Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Weak As Always

While the (Attorney General William) Barr hearing proceeds in the Senate Judiciary Committee, our minds explore the ways in which Donald J. Trump is a full-blown liar and would-be traitor. Treason requires giving aid and comfort to an enemy, and Russia is not at war with the USA and is not even on the federal government's terrorist list, so there is that.

But let us not forget that Donald J. Trump is a weakling, a rough facsimile of a coward. A couple of weeks ago we learned

In the summer of 2017, President Trump told Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to have then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions thwart Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to the special counsel’s report. Trump also told Lewandowski to fire Sessions if he refused a meeting to talk about the issue, the report says.

The report details a meeting between Trump and Lewandowski, which came just two days after Trump met with former White House counsel Don McGahn and asked him to have Mueller removed. In the meeting, Trump “brought up Sessions and criticized his recusal from the Russia investigation,” the report says.

Trump's former campaign chairman pushed the job off to deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, who told him it would be taken care of, but who understandably didn't perform the task. A private citizen, Lewandowski was not even a member of the Administration, accountable to the President. Yet Trump was trying to get him to do the dirty work of the President.

Lewandowski was not the only Trump associate with enough sense to defy President Trump.  On Monday, The Hill reported

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis declined to carry out orders from President Trump or otherwise limited his options in various attempts to prevent tensions with North Korea, Iran and Syria from escalating, The New Yorker reported Monday, the latest account of Trump’s own officials trying to check his worst instincts.

"The president thinks out loud. Do you treat it like an order? Or do you treat it as part of a longer conversation? We treated it as part of a longer conversation," a former senior national security official told The New Yorker.

"We prevented a lot of bad things from happening."

Oh, like maybe World War III or a nuclear war, though more likely an invasion of South Korea by North Korea. The article continues

In 2017, following a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests, Trump ordered the Pentagon to begin removing the spouses and children of military personnel from South Korea, where the U.S. military has a base. An administration official told the magazine that "Mattis just ignored" the order.

In another instance in the fall of 2017, as White House officials were planning a private meeting at Camp David to develop military options for a possible conflict with North Korea, Mattis allegedly stopped the gathering from happening. He ignored a request from then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster to send officers and planners, according to a former senior administration official.

The accounts, included in a profile of national security adviser John Bolton, reveal that the former Marine Corps general routinely sought to downplay any potential conflicts across the globe.

Mattis resigned from his Pentagon position last December, one day after Trump announced that he would withdraw troops from Syria, a decision Mattis opposed.

A confrontation in the Mideast between major world powers was not out of the question, either. Continuing:

The defense chief also sought to ward off possible conflicts in the Middle East.

As Iraq was preparing for parliamentary elections in late 2017, McMaster was worried about any meddling from Iran and asked the Pentagon to give options to counter such a move.

A former McMaster aide said Mattis later sent a Pentagon official to the White House without any options in hand.

"I asked him what happened to the options," the former aide told The New Yorker. "He told me, 'We resisted those.' You could feel everyone in the meeting go, 'Excuse me?'"

Mattis also reportedly prevented Gen. John Nicholson, then head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, from meeting Trump.

After Bolton replaced McMaster, he asked the Pentagon for multiple options in April 2018, after Syrian President Bashar Assad dropped chemical weapons on civilians in a suburb of Damascus. Mattis gave only one option, a limited strike with cruise missiles, which angered Bolton.

Administration officials told the magazine that Mattis was likely attempting to limit information to Trump so he could not make ill-advised decisions.

Evidently, people around Donald Trump realize this is not a normal man and not a normal presidency. Therefore 

"There are a lot of people in the administration who want to limit the president’s options because they don’t want the president to get anything done," a former senior administration official said.

Management 101, Donald: when you're in charge (supposedly) and underlings are ignoring your demands, fire them. It's a tried-and-true tradition and shouldn't be that difficult. Fortunately, there are individuals in the federal government who know they can ignore this fraud of a man repeatedly and face no consequences.

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