If you don’t think that Donald Trump and his Administration threaten our country’s basic values, traditions and laws, then you haven’t been paying attention. Of course it’s hard to keep up with the news and provide for your family’s needs during a pandemic.

First published in May 2020.

What is happening is not normal and a second term only would free him from whatever bonds may bind him right now.

News runs by our eyes so quickly that we don’t take the time to see the different stories and how they look taken together.

Among the news items you may have missed just last week, the White House pulled back its document laying out for states and businesses what a safe return to business as usual would require. Among the prerequisites on the list prepared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was that the location go 14 days without an increase in Covid-19 cases. That’s out the window now along with many other sensible health requirements.

The White House just tossed those last week with the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying that the head of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, had not signed off on them. That was a lie. Redfield did sign off on the list based on internal emails obtained by the Associated Press. The order to shelve the guidance, according to the AP, came from the “highest levels of the White House.”

Also last week, Attorney General William Barr announced his department is dropping its case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn claiming, basically, that procedure wasn’t properly followed. In effect he’s saying that the investigation should not have been started, and thus Flynn was interviewed about an investigation that shouldn’t be happening so his lies don’t count. Remember, Flynn twice admitted to prosecutors and the court that he lied during the investigation. In pleading guilty in court Flynn said, “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany addresses her remarks at a White House press briefing. / The White House | 12 May 2020

So far, no one can find a precedent for Barr’s action. President Trump was likely to pardon Flynn but Barr’s action removes that from Trump’s to-do list, thus protecting the president from issuing Flynn a pardon which definitely would have been a big campaign issue this year.

Waiting in the wings is Roger Stone, a very close ally of Trump’s for decades. Stone has been sentenced to more than three years in prison after being convicted in November of, among other crimes, lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Barr’s Justice Department charged and prosecuted Stone. And Barr had agreed with the prosecution. Now Barr is looking into whether Stone’s sentence was over the top. The betting is Barr finds that it was too harsh especially after Trump said after the announcement of the Flynn charge withdrawal that there was “more to come” in what he claims was a “hoax” investigation into Russia ties to his 2016 campaign. By the way, after Barr announced his intent to have Flynn’s charge withdrawn, the White House announced Trump had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed the development. Why he did that is unclear but minds may wonder about it. Staff said other issues were discussed also.

In Flynn’s case, the judge needs to rule on whether the charges can be dropped. The judge is Emmet G. Sullivan. Precedent from the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia District leaves Sullivan little room to do anything but grant the government’s motion to drop the charges. (While I believe judges are not influenced by political issues or parties, Sullivan last two appointments came from Republican presidents.)

These two developments trump (pun not intended) another activity that occurred that is begging for investigation.

Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and a senior White House advisor, has been behind Project Airbridge, which the Administration has touted as part of a historic mobilization “moving heaven and earth” to find and deliver medical supplies from other countries to U.S. hotspots. In exchange for taxpayer-funded flights (which have cost nearly $1 million per trip), the agreement states that the companies will deliver half of the cargo to administration-identified hot spots. The companies decide where they can sell the other half for profit, with the transportation fully funded by taxpayer dollars. Little reporting is available to determine where the equipment was delivered, neither the public half nor the private half.

Kushner is the family wunderkind who has been assigned to bring peace to the Middle East, reform the criminal justice system, build the border wall, be the primary White House liaison with his father-in-law’s campaign and more. He also established a rogue White House task force made up of his government allies, private sector business people and investor types which shadows the White House Task Force on the coronavirus led by the Vice President. Kushner’s task force makes requests around the government that cause confusion during a pandemic of who’s in charge and which requests get filled first, the Vice President-led task force, or the President’s son-in-law’s.

Jared Kushner. / Gage Skidmore | 23 July 2019

A side point to Project Airbridge: when the states begged for the federal government to lead the process for purchasing necessary medical supplies to short circuit states bidding against each other, Trump famously told the governors that the federal government is not a “shipping clerk” and would not do that. Apparently the President was wrong because now the Administration (over) hypes its shipping program as a huge success.

I say over hypes because many claim that the supplies delivered under this program have not been as many as the Administration claims, there are no public records of where they went and who requested them. Kushner has also forwarded equipment requests from Trump loyalists, including a couple of Fox News talking heads.

Another news story last week was speculation that Trump wants to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray. Trump apparently feels Wray is “disloyal.” Why? Wray was interviewed in 2019 by ABC News. In that interview Wray was asked about the FBI being part of a “deep state.” Wray said he thought that label is a “disservice to the men and women who work at the FBI.” Trump has referred to the FBI as part of the deep state which he believes is out to remove him from office.

Wray also said he did not feel the Trump campaign was unfairly targeted by the FBI investigation into ties with Russia. And he denied the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential elections, as Trump still maintains.

On top of all that, Trump also has fired a bunch of Inspectors General who exist to protect the public against waste, fraud and abuse by government agencies. A few had criticized Trump actions. They are gone. Trump is within his rights to fire those people but no President has gone unscathed by an Inspector General at one time or another. Firing them would have been considered retribution and I don’t recall any similar situations in the past. In Trump’s case, it clearly is retribution and continues his efforts to put loyalists into positions so he is not challenged, questioned nor is the public need served well.

Most of the above all happened in one week. It’s hard to keep track. It can be understood and forgiven if most citizens can’t keep it all straight, especially in the middle of a pandemic where everyone worries about their loved ones and themselves, and where unemployment stands at nearly 15 percent and will rise and men and women who a few weeks ago shopped in grocery stores are now waiting in long lines to obtain donated foods.

You may loathe or love Donald Trump. But you have to pay attention to what he’s doing that will cause nearly unrepairable harm to this country and all it has stood for.

Thanks to many of Trump’s policies and behavior, we have given up our status as the Leader of the world and other countries are moving in to try to provide that leadership. Also, many enemies are taking advantage of our backpedaling and positioning themselves favorably with countries that had been our allies.

And, Trump – intentionally or simply for self-preservation reasons – is ripping apart institutions that have held our republic together for centuries and which other countries were trying to replicate.🔷

[This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 13 May 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/The White House. - President Donald Trump. | 7 May 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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