This story from the AP this afternoon, about a Trump political fixer booted from Main Justice, literally banned from the building, is part of a fascinating, much broader and highly significant story. Across the government, the agencies, departments, even in some cases Trump’s own appointees are becoming more resistant to his direction and power. I basically guarantee you that showing this woman the door at the DOJ does not happen before President Trump’s defeat.
We’ve seen this already most clearly at CDC, NIH and FDA. Fauci is back making statements from the White House. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC official who sounded the first real alarm about COVID back in February, suddenly piped up again last week after eight months of silence. The FDA is showing more outward resistance to President Trump’s demands over its vaccine approval process. Scott Atlas suddenly got the boot. But with the health care bureaucracy the process is a bit more complicated because Trump seems largely to have lost interest in COVID after the election. There’s resistance. But aside from his pet issue of emergency approvals for “his” vaccines Trump really doesn’t seem to care about COVID anymore. At the Justice Department and the Census Bureau developments Tierney Sneed has been covering we see the broader story: Donald Trump’s power as President is disintegrating.
It is such an uncanny period in the COVID pandemic. Many of us are now for the first time thinking concretely, realistically about what we’ll do when this is over. We have good reason to think it’s not that far off. Where will we go? Who will we spend time with? And yet amidst that optimism and anticipated relief we are also in the midst of the very worst of the crisis. Judged by death toll yesterday was the worst day in the history of the epidemic. 2760 deaths were recorded, exceeding the 2752 deaths recorded on April 15th. While some part of that number may still be a reporting backlog from the holiday weekend there is every reason to believe that record will be exceeded again and again over the coming weeks and possibly months. All the evidence suggests it will get worse, quite likely much worse, and stay worse at least into February.
The drama over Trump threatening to fire Bill Barr is so surreal, so absurd, so dark inasmuch as it is really just the pitiful acting out of a terrified, impulsive man raging against the dying of his vast and untrammeled power. We can focus on the craziness of Trump’s turning on Barr, who has abused his office so willingly and fulsomely on Trump’s behalf. But the reality is it simply doesn’t matter. Even that is irrelevant at this point. The administration is over. Barr is just there in a caretaker role. The people have already fired all of them.
A bizarre, hilarious and maddening story out of Georgia. A Florida Republican lawyer from Bay County, Florida is caught on tape encouraging Florida Republicans to claim phony residence in Georgia to vote in the run-offs. He says he’s registering at the address of his brother who lives in Georgia. When local reporter Nicole Carr asked the lawyer, Bill Price, about the video he said that it was all a joke and that of course he didn’t make a bogus registration at his brother’s address.
But she checked and he had registered. Now Price is being investigated for vote fraud by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
After the joke excuse didn’t pan out Price apparently changed his story and insisted that he made the fraudulent registrations to prove how susceptible Georgia’s voting system was to fraud.
Here’s something I didn’t know about in the annals of Trumpist mania and bad acting. You’ve probably seen the name Lin Wood come up. From my recollection, prior to his Trumpist incarnation, Wood was what you might call a regionally known celebrity lawyer. He was involved in a lot of high profile cases and was very successful. I don’t know how respected he was as a lawyer per se. And I don’t think he was known for supporting coups or being unhinged or evil.
More recently he was the lawyer for Nicholas Sandmann – the kid from Covington Kentucky involved with that incident with the Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial – suing media organizations for defamation. He took on the case of alleged terrorist shooter Kyle Rittenhouse with funding from high profile Trump supporter Mike Lindell (the MyPillow guy). And now since the November election he’s been at the forefront of some of the wildest and most lurid pro-Trump fraud conspiracy theories and demands for overthrow of the government.
Last night, fresh off his pardon for past crimes, retired General Mike Flynn endorsed a call for President Trump to suspend the constitution and declare martial law. It came in a tweet in which Flynn tweeted and endorsed a manifesto calling on President “to immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.”
This situation with Joe DiGenova saying whistleblower (in the informal sense) Chris Krebs should be “taken out at dawn and shot” deserves our attention for a few reasons. The first, of course, is the sheer unacceptability and outrageousness of it. But it’s also a window into the permissive and transgressive far-right/Trumpist ecosystem.
You’ve probably noticed that my posts have been perhaps a bit more reflective than usual in recent days. Biden not only won and Trump is leaving but now Trump gets it and knows he’s leaving, even as he labors to manufacture a narrative in which he won but is being deprived of office by a conspiracy against him. Like TPM Reader MM below, there is a certain relaxing of muscles and tension. This really is over. And despite Trump’s still fairly successful efforts to project a reality in which he remains a presence past his presidency, I suspect it’s really over to a degree greater than we quite yet suspect.