A Complete Analysis Of Donald Trump’s 88th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. (AP/Reuters)

A Complete Analysis Of Donald Trump’s 88th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

In the most emotional week since the height of Trump's immigrant family separations, the two sides of America were displayed in a stark contrast as the power of the #MeToo era took center stage.

The image above epitomizes this week’s hearing. Although many media outlets have opted for symmetrical, side-by-side photos of the two, we opted for a more accurate depiction. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford not only appeared to give a more honest testimony than Judge Brett Kavanaugh (who lied on several occasions), she loomed larger than him by every measure.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was emotional, yet composed. She was scarred by trauma, yet brave. She was visibly rattled by the weight of the moment, yet meticulous in her scientific descriptions of how memory works and careful with her words. As survivors of sexual assault around the world watched her testimony, they felt her pain because it was also their pain.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, on the other hand, was entitled, enraged, temperamentally unstable, and not nearly as careful with his words as he concocted a Clinton conspiracy theory and failed to be truthful about the simplest of things, such as whether or not he watched Dr. Ford’s testimony. In spite of his dishonesty, pundits lauded him as credible. From my personal experience with a loved one who suffered from alcoholism, Kavanaugh’s alleged authentic performance was all too familiar. It appeared to be the anger of a tortured alcoholic who has never taken responsibility for the abuse he’s committed while drunk. Angry, ashamed, and defensive when confronted with wrongdoing.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) echoed Kavanaugh’s entitlement in an angry rant that can only be perceived as an audition for President Trump’s Cabinet. The Senate was breaking apart at the seams.

Just as this photo of the hearing embodied the moment, the hearing itself served as a metaphor for the current state of our union.

Decency vs. depravity. Truth vs. deceit. Female empowerment vs. a culture of misogyny.

At the end of this roller coaster of a week, there was a glimmer of hope. In a testament to the power of #MeToo, two brave survivors of sexual assault may have changed the course of history when they confronted Senator Jeff Flake. One of the women was 23 years old, and this was the first time she had ever spoken publicly about her assault. If her showing of courage isn’t a sign of the times than I don’t know what is.

In the aftermath of the delayed vote and the ordering of the FBI investigation, reports indicated it might be too limited in scope to yield results as the White House meddles in the process. Needless to say, focus should be placed on pivotal Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) and red state Democrats Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND). The week ahead will be another one for the history books.

Polling indicates women are turning away from the GOP and Kavanaugh’s support is at a historic low for a Supreme Court nominee. Women are watching. Women are angry. Women are running.

These Senators need to recognize that come November; they’ll also be voting.

Day 613: Monday, September 24

The Rosenstein Fire Drill
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2018, on Justice Department and FBI actions around the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2018, on Justice Department and FBI actions around the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Rod Rosenstein Has Submitted His Resignation

Rod Rosenstein Is Heading To The White House Expecting To Be Fired

These headlines threw the media into a frenzy this morning, as the fate of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation appeared to be hanging in the balance.

First, it was Jonathan Swan at Axios who reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Then, several other news organizations began to report that Rod Rosenstein had not submitted his resignation but was expecting to be fired.

This report that Rosenstein has resigned came after last week’s New York Times report which claimed Rosenstein mused about wearing a wire when talking to President Trump and suggested invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office. However, numerous other news organizations reported that their sources claimed Rod Rosenstein was actually being sarcastic. The Times report appeared to suffer from the same affliction Swan’s report did: relying too heavily on Trump administration sources without being wary of their motivations.

As my colleagues at Rantt and I began to parse through the developments, it became clear there were too many conflicting narratives. It was far too soon to report on this.

The Comey letter comparison is relevant because, in the immediate aftermath of James Comey releasing his letter about the discovery of emails relevant to the Clinton server investigation 11 days before the 2016 presidential election, the media went wild jumping to conclusions. The same thing happened here, with the exception of NBC’s Pete Williams.

It was later revealed, as we suspected, that Rod Rosenstein will not be fired today.

And even further, this leak may have been a distraction.

One of Rantt’s guiding principles is that getting the scoop is not nearly as important as getting the story right. After we saw what happened in the 2016 election, we’ve prided ourselves on waiting until stories fully develop before writing about them. This way, we never get caught up in pushing the White House’s narratives.

Below is context and analysis I had previously written in preparation for Rosenstein’s firing. You can read it to see why it’s important for him to stay on as Deputy Attorney General, what would happen if he were to be fired, and why it would be politically foolish for Trump to fire Rosenstein ahead of the midterms.

The Context: For over a year, President Donald Trump has been eager to fire Rod Rosenstein. Trump has been obsessive in his efforts to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in American democracy and their potential conspiracy with the Trump campaign to win the 2016 election (which Rosenstein oversees).

From their false FISA surveillance scandal to their hearing with FBI Agent Peter Strzork to the effort to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump, House Republicans, and conservative media tried to thwart the Mueller probe, which the President is a subject of. This effort has expanded into a broad initiative to discredit the DOJ, FBI, and the U.S. Intelligence Community as a whole.

The investigation Trump has been trying to undermine, which President Trump called a witch hunt on the world stage, is a multi-faceted counterintelligence investigation that probes Russian interference, the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia, and potential obstruction of Justice on the part of President Trump. It also probes financial crimes on the part of Trump’s associates as well as international corruption involving Russia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc.

All five of Trump’s associates who have been charged with crimes during his presidency have now pleaded guilty and cooperated with federal investigators. Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea implicated Trump in two campaign finance felonies.

President Trump is plagued by multiple federal investigations and lawsuits.

  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.
  • The Southern District of New York’s investigation into Trump’s former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen
  • The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the Trump Organization
  • The New York Attorney General’s investigation into the Trump Foundation
  • Emoluments clause lawsuits
  • Stormy Daniels and Summer Zervos lawsuits

The Analysis: President Trump’s endeavor to obstruct justice spans several months and includes efforts to fire Mueller as well as Rosenstein. Noel Francisco, who has some noteworthy thoughts on executive power and the President’s authority to fire officials, would be set to act as Deputy Attorney General. However, he has a conflict of interest given his representation of the Trump campaign.

This is key because due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, the Deputy Attorney General has the power to intervene and challenge Mueller’s actions, prematurely end the probe, and/or limit its scope. The Deputy AG has power over Mueller’s report. After Mueller completes his obstruction of justice and conspiracy reports, he’ll then hand the reports over to the Deputy AG, who will then choose whether or not to release publicly and/or refer to Congress in the form of an impeachment referral.

The Senate previously crafted legislation that would give added protections to Mueller if he were to try and be fired, but it didn’t go far enough to protect Rosenstein or put protections in place for Mueller if his replacement meddles in the probe. Needless to say, this bill must be expanded and passed. Put it on President Trump’s desk and force him to veto it.

How a Rosenstein firing would play out politically is another matter entirely. President Trump’s war on the Department of Justice and Special Counsel Robert Mueller has become a centerpiece of his political platform. Trump spends more time bashing the Mueller investigation than he does promoting his policy agenda. We now have multiple polls that tell a similar story. His attacks on Mueller are backfiring. There was already evidence that indicates the Republican Party itself is shrinking, and now we have evidence that Trump’s base is shrinking down to his most staunch supporters.

With Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and President Trump’s meeting with Rod Rosenstein, Thursday will be interesting.

In other news…

Day 614: Tuesday, September 25

The Laugh Heard Around The World

At the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump had an embarrassing performance as the world did to him what he falsely claimed they did to President Obama: laugh. As Trump embellished and exaggerated his administration’s accomplishments, world leaders let out a great guffaw and mocked the president.

President Trump continued his “America First” posturing throughout the meeting of the world leaders, which is truly just “America Alone.”

In other news…

  • The political ramifications for the GOP began to set in, but nevertheless, they persisted.

Day 615: Wednesday, September 26

The Affidavit

In an affidavit made public by her attorney Michael Avenatti, Julie Swetnick made the most damning allegation against Brett Kavanaugh yet. Swetnick alleges that between 1981-1983, Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge were known for spiking women’s drinks and luring them into gang rapes, where multiple men would wait in line to participate.

Swetnick also alleges that she was a victim of one of these gang rapes and that Kavanaugh and Judge were both “present,” but she does not make clear whether or not they participated.

Judge Kavanaugh denied these allegations and proclaimed his character was being assassinated.

President Trump attacked Michael Avenatti on Twitter.

Avenatti responded.

In other news…

  • President Trump held one of the most unhinged press conferences he’s ever conducted (It’s only his fourth official one so it didn’t have much competition). President Trump told a female reporter to sit down, repeatedly interrupted other female reporters, claimed Geroge Washington may have had a bad past, and attacked Kavanaugh and his own accusers. You can read a play-by-play in this excellent thread from Rantt Co-Founder Adam Al-Ali, or watch it in full here.

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked her magic.

Day 616: Thursday, September 27

The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing

The day had finally arrived. The moment Americans had anxiously been waiting for. Expectations were high, but no one could’ve predicted the emotional roller coaster that they would endure.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman opened up the hearing by complaining about the process and how appeared to make it seem as if this hearing was an inconvenience to a Supreme Court seat the GOP feels entitled to.

In stark contrast to Grassley, Senator Dianne Feinstein used her opening remarks to speak about why survivors don’t immediately come forward, call for an FBI investigation, outline Kavanaugh’s other allegations, and also call out his dishonesty about his past.

Then came Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s opening statement. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s recounting of her assault is one of the most human, honest, and heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. It was pure bravery and is reflective of the painful experience millions of other survivors go through when they speak up. She said with “100%” certainty that Kavanaugh was the perpetrator. And she came off credible. Even Fox News couldn’t bash the testimony.

And then came Brett Kavanaugh, who as I explained in the intro, showed his political partisanship and lack of temperament to the highest degree. Kavanaugh also lied every time he said that the witnesses said the assault never happened.

And Lindsay Graham matched that as well.

If only Samuel L Jackson was in the room (one of the funniest videos you will ever see):

The vote was set to occur the next morning. At the end of the day, survivors felt demoralized, but the battle wasn’t over.

In other news…

Day 617: Friday, September 28

Flake’s Maverick Moment

It was a moment that can only be summarized with these four words: two women changed history.

Ahead of the 9:30 am vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee to move Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released a statement announcing he would vote yes. Flake was a key vote because, with 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the committee, he could tip the scales. After the statement was released, he was stopped at an elevator by two women who were survivors of sexual assault, one of them just now speaking about her assault for the very first time.

Flake was rattled. He arrived to the Senate Committee with is head bowed. After his friend across the aisle Chris Coons (D-DE) spoke calling for an FBI investigation into Dr. Ford’s allegation, Flake declined to speak when it was his turn. He then stood up, tapped Coons on the shoulder and they walked out of the room.

Flake huddled with Democrats and then came back with a demand that can only be compared to the moment Senator John McCain gave that epic thumbs down on the Obamacare “skinny repeal.” Flake called for an FBI investigation and to delay the floor vote for a week. Flake had the backing of key votes Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

The advanced the nomination through to the floor vote which would be held the following week after a very short FBI investigation of one week. It was a moment of hope, but over the weekend, it was revealed the White House was meddling int the scope of the probe.

President Trump disputed it but NBC doubled down on it after their reporting.

The fight continues.

In other news…

Unpresidented // Brett Kavanaugh / Donald Trump / News / Supreme Court