A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
“My weirdometer is broken”
Maybe this is what we need as a navigational aide in this age of nonstop news: a “weirdometer.”
The idea is inspired by NPR’s Susan Davis, who tweeted on Thursday, “How weird is it that the president hasn’t nominated a new Defense Secretary yet? Not that weird? Super weird? My weirdometer is broken.”
I think my meter is broken too. But Thursday was pretty, pretty weird. And Friday is shaping up to be weird, too.
– As KFILE pointed out here, Trump “once called executive action on immigration dangerous, unconstitutional and impeachable…” But now he’s taking executive action on immigration to the tune of $8 billion. It’s “national emergency” time.
– Truth-tellers on the left, the right and the sidelines are pointing out that there is no “national emergency” at the border, but Trump is going ahead anyway. He will hold a Rose Garden event at 10 a.m. Friday…
– The NYT’s Charlie Savage says this is “likely to go down as an extraordinary violation of constitutional norms — setting a precedent that future presidents of both parties may emulate to unilaterally achieve their own policy goals.”
– In other weird news, a new book by Andrew McCabe says Trump didn’t believe US intel reports about a North Korean missile launch because “he thought that N.K. did not have the capability to launch such missiles. He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”
– Every day is weird: McCabe’s book says “people do not appreciate how far we have fallen from normal standards of presidential accountability.”
The real emergency: Trump’s “political difficulties”
Anderson Cooper began Thursday night’s “AC360” by reading from the Constitution. (Video here.)
The president “today turned his back” on the Constitution and his own words. “Whether you want to call it his inability to fulfill a campaign promise, that Mexico would pay for the wall; or to negotiate with Congress; or merely dissatisfaction with the outcome; he’s just made his own political difficulties over the border and the budget into a national emergency…”
CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted, “Trump tomorrow: Declares national emergency in the morning, heads to Mar-a-Lago in the afternoon.” David Tabacoff, formerly the longtime exec producer of Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show, replied, “That is some kind of emergency. Eighteen holes of golf scheduled for the week-end in the midst of the emergency, no doubt!”
Conservatives sounding the alarm
Cool heads are looking pretty hot right now. Case in point, Bush speechwriter turned Javelin co-partner Matt Latimer’s column for Politico Mag.
“By now,” he wrote, “we’ve all become numb, alarmingly so, to the nutty ideas the president of the United States has floated or in some cases enacted to undermine the basic norms of our democratic institutions: firing FBI personnel on various pretexts, discounting election results he doesn’t like, befriending vicious dictators, claiming judges are biased based on their ethnicity, alleging massive voter fraud without evidence, ignoring intelligence findings he doesn’t agree with, and on and on and on. But as bizarre and dangerous as these have been, his plan to declare a national emergency is by far the absolute worst.”
More weird things that happened today
– The W.H. put out some basic info about Trump’s recent physical, but didn’t disclose many of the details that medical experts would like to know. “The public deserves greater transparency,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner told Erin Burnett…
– Matt Schlapp tweeted that Friday “will be the first day that President Trump will have a fully operational confirmed Attorney General. Let that sink in. Mueller will be gone soon.” What does he know that we don’t know? His wife Mercedes is a top W.H. aide…
McCabe’s book tour is beginning
“The Threat” comes out next Tuesday. CBS released clips from Scott Pelley’s “60 Minutes” sit-down with McCabe on Thursday’s “CBS This Morning.” The first adaptation from McCabe’s book came out on The Atlantic website at the same time.
“The president has stepped over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he has encountered them,” McCabe asserts. “Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants.”
All day long, cable news commentators pointed out that McCabe’s credibility has been questioned. But the honest ones also pointed out that McCabe’s main claims line up with previous reporting about Trumpworld. For example, McCabe confirmed the NYT’s story from last September about 25th Amendment talk within the DOJ.
>> Greg Miller reviewed “The Threat” for WaPo… He said one of his takeaways is that the Trump admin’s reputation “for baseness and dysfunction has, if anything, been understated and too narrowly attributed to the president.”
FOR THE RECORD
– One day after the NYT published its story about Ryan Adams, a law enforcement source told the paper that the FBI “is looking into” whether the singer-songwriter “committed a crime by engaging in sexually explicit communications with an underage fan…” (NYT)
– “Prosecutors investigating R. Kelly are looking into a newly surfaced video featuring the R&B superstar, lawyer Michael Avenatti told CNN.” Sara Sidner viewed the VHS tape, and describes it here… (CNN)
– A few hours later, this story by Jim DeRogatis: Prosecutors “are moving to indict R. Kelly, after the discovery of another video tape…” (The New Yorker)