A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 85th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

President Donald Trump speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A Complete Breakdown Of Donald Trump’s 85th Unpresidented Week As POTUS

Trump’s unfitness for office takes center stage, Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings do him no favors, and Obama makes a powerful return.

“The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.” — Anonymous Senior Trump Administration Official in The New York Times

Of all the quotes in the anonymous op-ed that shook the political world this week, this struck me as the most astute observation. But it didn’t go far enough. President Trump does have a defining principle, and it’s self-interest. And not only is President Trump amoral, his cynical worldview leads him to believe other people are as self-centered and amoral as he is. Let me explain.

After writing about every day of Trump’s presidency for nearly 600 days now, and diving deep into his personal and business history, it’s clear that Donald Trump has operated his entire life with this mindset.

From his time with Roy Cohn to his time in the Oval Office, President Trump believes life is a zero-sum game. For him to win, someone else has to lose. His foundational belief system is based on this winner take all philosophy. You see it in his trade policies. You see it in his domestic policy. You see it in his management style. And knowing Trump’s simple way of looking at the world, he tends to project his own belief system on others. Trump thinks most people are operating at this same amoral level.

It’s this amoral worldview that leads Trump to believe the Justice Department is truly out to get him personally, rather than protecting the rule of law.

It’s this amoral worldview that leads Trump to have such hatred for former President Barack Obama, who he thinks must have some ulterior self-serving motive other than promoting democratic ideals.

It’s this amoral worldview that led Trump to execute on the “zero tolerance” policy which led to the separation of immigrant families without anticipating the universal backlash.

It’s this amoral worldview that leads Trump to believe the media is anti-Trump rather than pro-truth.

President Trump simply cannot comprehend that there are people who dedicate their lives to upholding ideals that are bigger than themselves.

Compound his indecency with his authoritarian tendencies, impulsiveness, and lack of intellectual curiosity and you have a recipe for a profoundly unfit President of the United States.

There is one silver lining though. Donald Trump’s worldview has led him to not only underestimate the American people’s sense of decency, but their capacity to influence change.

I believe Donald Trump will be unpleasantly surprised by how ferociously the American people reject his worldview.

Let’s dive into week 85.

Labor Day Weekend

At Senator John McCain’s memorial service, Meghan McCain, former President Barack Obama, and former President George W. Bush were among the speakers who delivered powerful speeches praising American values and John McCain’s legacy.

These were seen as rebukes of President Trump.

In other news…

  • President Trump sent out some concerning tweets…

But then, he sent out a tweet that unintentionally bolstered the credibility of what would later become Mueller’s investigation.

Day 593: Tuesday, September 4

Kava-naw
Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., left, attempts to shake hands with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, right, as he leaves for a lunch break while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, to begin his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh did not shake his hand. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., left, attempts to shake hands with President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, right, as he leaves for a lunch break while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, to begin his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh did not shake his hand. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Lede: Day one of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to the Supreme Court was chaotic, to say the least. Right as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-IA) moves to begin, Democrats interjected and made motions to adjourn the hearing, pointing to the thousands of documents that have yet to be reviewed. This request was met with applause.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) continued to bring up the motion at various points throughout the hearing which was backed by other Democrats. Ultimately, of course, Democrats did not get their wish.

Nonetheless, Democrats successfully delayed much of the hearing with long-winded speeches blasting Kavanaugh on the merits of his rulings, writings, and beliefs. Presidential hopefuls like Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) especially shined. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) made salient points. Protestors also made multiple appearances that were impossible to ignore. Republican Senators fell in line behind Kavanaugh, but interestingly Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ)—who is not seeking reelection and has been a critic of President Trump—seconded Democrats concerns about Trump’s threats to the rule of law and democratic norms. For more on the specifics of the hearing, read this great piece from Vox.

One of the most revealing moments about Kavanaugh’s character that has gotten a lot of attention didn’t happen while the hearing was in session.

And later in the night, we learned even more…

The Context: Kavanaugh’s confirmation would tip the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation, and will have wide-ranging ramifications for women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, human rights in general, healthcare (pre-existing conditions), as well as the rule of law. The Supreme Court will likely have to make key decisions on the extent of presidential power, with rulings surrounding pardon power, compliance with subpoenas, and presidential immunity. Given how consequential Nixon v. United States was, this pick will likely determine the legal liability of President Trump. Given the fact President Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator in two felony counts, these are worthy concerns. For more on Kavanaugh’s record, including his time working on the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton, his thoughts on Roe v. Wade, and the fact he argued the President should be above the law, read this.

The Analysis: From the unrelenting protests to the fiery rhetoric from Democrats, this was widely seen as the most contentious Supreme Court hearing in recent memory. The Democrats showed up and showed their spines. Obviously, they do not have the votes to block this nominee but they’re putting up one hell of a fight. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stole this Supreme Court seat from Merrick Garland, many among the Democratic base have demanded that their elected leaders put up a fight no matter the odds. They got what they wanted. As for Kavanaugh, he’ll likely be confirmed. But that image of him denying the handshake of Parkland father Fred Guttenberg will haunt him throughout his career. And as for the rule of law, Roe v. Wade, healthcare, etc…the future in a post-Justice Kavanaugh world is uncertain.

In other news…

Day 594: Wednesday, September 5

The Anonymous Op-Ed
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, in Washington. Trump is en route to Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, in Washington. Trump is en route to Huntington, W.Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This was a paradigm-shifting day. Rantt’s Managing Editor Remy Carreiro covered it perfectly:

On Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed from an author only identified as “a senior official in the Trump administration” who claimed that they were part of a group of individuals who are determined to thwart the President’s “agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Yes, you read that right.

There is apparently an informal group of members of the Trump administration who recognize the danger the President poses to this country and have taken it upon themselves to minimize his effectiveness privately and secretly. This group is so aware of the cancer that is Donald Trump that they’ve gone as far as to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment, yet decided against it for fear of the constitutional crisis which would be sure to follow.

As the essay reads: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.”

For more on this op-ed and the case for the 25th Amendment, read the full piece.

President Trump responded as expected, further bolstering the claims made in Bob Woodward’s upcoming book and the anonymous op-ed.

In other news…

Day 595: Thursday, September 6

I Am Spartacus

On Thursday, a truly remarkable moment in the US Senate occurred. The Democrats showcased how prepared they were to make a spectacle of this hearing. Senator Booker risked expulsion from the Senate in order to release Kavanaugh emails that Republicans classified without basis. Other Democrats followed suit.

In other news…


This is hilarious:

  • Plaid shirt guy, who you’ve likely heard of by now, dominated the internet. Also, a bit was revealed about how the Trump administration may go about engineering their rallies.

This story got much darker from what we learned over the weekend…

Day 596: Friday, September 7

The Return Of Barack

Former President Barack Obama returned with a fiery speech. In it, he delivered his strongest direct rebuke of President Donald Trump since he’s taken office, and didn’t mince words when it came to the Republican Party:

On the GOP and Russia:

“What happened to the Republican party? Its central organizing principle in foreign policy is the fight against communism and now they’re cozying up to the former head of the KGB?!”

On voter complacency:

“When there’s a vacuum in our democracy, when we don’t vote, when we take our basic rights and freedoms for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention and stop engaging and stop believing … the politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment takes hold.”

On the economy:

“Let’s just remember when this recovery started. I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on… suddenly Republicans are saying it’s a miracle.”

In other news…

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism