Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Just Stand Back

Via the Washington Post:

The White House’s bifurcated and disjointed response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry has been fueled by a fierce West Wing battle between two of President Trump’s top advisers, and the outcome of the messy skirmish could be on full display this week, according to White House and congressional officials.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has urged aides not to comply with the inquiry and blocked any cooperation with congressional Democrats. Top political aides at the Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney once led, have fallen in line with his defiant stance, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the behind-the-scenes developments.

Mulvaney’s office blames White House counsel Pat Cipollone for not doing more to stop other government officials from participating in the impeachment inquiry, as a number of State Department officials, diplomats and an aide to Vice President Pence have given sworn testimony to Congress.

Cipollone, meanwhile, has fumed that Mulvaney only made matters worse with his Oct. 17 news conference, when he publicly acknowledged a quid pro quo, essentially confirming Democrats’ accusations in front of television cameras and reporters. Cipollone did not want Mulvaney to hold the news conference, a message that was passed along to the acting chief of staff’s office, according to two senior Trump advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A Mulvaney aide said a team of White House lawyers prepared him for the news conference and never said he should not do it.

Neither Mulvaney nor Cipollone has broad experience navigating a White House through such a tumultuous period. But their actions have contributed to the White House’s increasingly tenuous response to the impeachment inquiry, in which public hearings are set to begin Wednesday in the House. Despite the high stakes, the White House moved slowly to hire a staff specifically dedicated to working on the impeachment issue, a concern that was expressed to the White House by multiple GOP senators, Capitol Hill aides said.

“This will be the toughest political fight this White House has faced. They need to be sure they are totally focused and that all their fire is pointed outward — not at each other,” said Michael Steel, a GOP strategist who was a top aide to former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Okay, now we’re getting to the fun stuff.  So far this White House hasn’t been able to coordinate a one-car parade, making it easy for the Democrats — who usually excel at dithering — to just stand back and watch.

The problem for the Trumpers isn’t so much their inability to come together.  It’s two-fold: First, they’re trying to defend the indefensible actions of their boss, who has already stood in the driveway and said, “Yeah, I did it, and I’d do it again, and I’ll keep doing it. You want it on tape?  Okay!”  Second, they’re trying to coordinate their own defense to keep from being questioned or indicted because, unlike Trump, they know that they are exposed to liability for obstruction of justice or impeding prosecution.

At some point, they’re going to come down to making the choice between saving Trump’s ass or their own.  Based on the caliber of people that have been put to work in the White House, that’s not going to be a hard choice for them, and that’s when the shit will hit the fan.

Speaking of infighting, it’s even trickling down to the next generation.

Donald Trump Jr ventured on to the University of California’s overwhelmingly liberal Los Angeles campus on Sunday, hoping to prove what he had just argued in his book – that a hate-filled American left was hell-bent on silencing him and anyone else who supported the Trump presidency.

But the appearance backfired when his own supporters, diehard Make America Great Again conservatives, raised their voices most loudly in protest and ended up drowning him out barely 20 minutes into an event scheduled to last two hours.


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