Tuesday, December 22, 2020

'As he descends into the fever swamps' Trump no longer governs

Heather Cox Richardson reports on the president’s deteriorating state of mind in the December 21, 2020 letter edition of Letters from an American. Excerpts follow.

In the past two days, stories in major papers have focused on the president’s deteriorating mental state. The Atlantic ran a story by Peter Wehner titled “Trump is Losing His Mind.” It describes “Trump’s descent into madness.” Politico ran Michael Kruse’s story titled “Is Trump Cracking Under the Weight of Losing?””[T]he actual fact of the matter,” it said, is that “Trump is a loser.” Kruse points to Trump’s uncharacteristic absence from the public eye to wonder if he is breaking down mentally.

“His fragile ego has never been tested to this extent,” Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told Kruse. “While he’s creating a false pretense of strength and fortitude, internally he is angry, depressed and manic. As each day ends, Trump knows he’s one day closer to legal and financial troubles. Accordingly, we will all see his behavior deteriorate until it progresses into a full mental breakdown.”

CNN reported that senior White House officials are worried about what Trump might do in the next month as he spends more and more time with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is under active investigation by federal prosecutors; conspiracy lawyer Sidney Powell; disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn; Steve Bannon, who has recently been indicted for fraud; Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser; and now Patrick Byrne, the founder of the Overstock retail website.

As he descends into the fever swamps, Trump has largely given up any pretense of governing. His public schedule remains empty, and his private meetings appear to focus on how he can stay in office. Today we learned that Russian hackers broke into the email system used by the leadership of the Treasury Department, but the cyberattack from Russia has gone unaddressed except to the extent the president tried to blame the attack on China (although he has made no move to retaliate against China for the attack). He has made little attempt to shepherd any sort of an economic relief bill through Congress. And, most crucially, he is silent about the epidemic that is killing us. As of this evening, more than 18 million Americans have been infected with the coronavirus, and at least 319,000 have died.

Consider this to be a sign of things to come after January 20th. Trump and his sycophants will face legal actions (and even criminal ones) for their misdeeds

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that is investigating the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic today released documents showing that Trump appointees in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tried to “alter or block” at least 13 of the reports written by CDC scientists. Appointees messed around with the CDC’s traditional “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports” and edited reports on the use of masks, the dangers of Covid–19 in children, and the spread of the disease. They also tried to delete emails revealing political interference in scientific assessments. Some of the emails from science adviser Paul Alexander calling for the administration to speed the spread of coronavirus in order to achieve herd immunity have sparked outrage.

Chaired by Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the select subcommittee today issued subpoenas to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar and Director of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield for all documents “relating to efforts by political appointees… to interfere with scientific work conducted by career officials.” It had requested the documents earlier this month, but HHS and the CDC declined either to cooperate or to permit Redfield to testify about political censorship to the committee.

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