VP Pence Rushing Home Thursday. Can We Look at the 25th Amendment and Wonder Why?

As The Hill puts it:

Pence’s office said the vice president was returning to Washington on Thursday night instead of Friday morning to attend the president’s meeting at Camp David. Those meetings are expected to focus on North Korea.  

Pence deputy chief of staff Jarrod Agen also said the vice president’s other weekend plans had been canceled in case the president needed any follow up.

Pence’s office said the vice president was returning to Washington on Thursday night instead of Friday morning to attend the president’s meeting at Camp David. Those meetings are expected to focus on North Korea.  

Pence deputy chief of staff Jarrod Agen also said the vice president’s other weekend plans had been canceled in case the president needed any follow up.

With an administration this transparent, this should explain it all, but, as the 25th Amendment says in part:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. (Bold added; remainder of section text describes resolution process.)

So, you have to wonder about those plans, particularly since N. Korea is supposed to be cooled down.

You also have to wonder if the lack of cabinet resignations displays a support of Trump, or an awareness that the action moment is approaching, and that for cabinet members staying now makes more sense both personally and for the country.

More info and analysis on the 25th here.

 

 

 

 

Enough Already — Move on to The End Game

I am tired of hearing talking heads tell us how terrible Trump is.

The discussion has to move on to legal removal processes strategies, and how to hold accountable those Republicans who continue to enable by silence, acquiesce, or worse.  Clock on the categories for discussions by type.

 

Did Trump Spontaneously Add the Problem Words to His Charlottesville Statement?

Most of the problems in Trump Charlottesville statement come from the phrase “amny sides.”  In fact, if you watch it, here, you see you will see that the phrase, actually repeated, at the 16 second mark, is delivered very differently from the rest of the statement.

The phrase is emphasized, by tone and repetition and it is underlined by an arm wave (an old rhetorical trick).

manysides

To me, the whole thing only makes verbal and non-verbal sense as a spontaneous addition by Trump.  In other words he wanted and needed to weaken and qualify an originally more powerful statement.

Note that at the beginning, he is clearly reading something, but at this critical point he looks up, not needing to be guided by the previously drafted statement and his body argue changes.

Moreover he similarly does not look at the written statement when referencing his name and that of Obama, and when he talks of how long the hated has been going on.  It might well be that this additional dilution by time is also added personally by him.

I would urge news organizations to do all they can to get the original draft, although when you look at this in this light, it all makes sense, even without knowing the written text.

If I am right, this is an additional insight into his soul, if any were needed.

Update, August 15.  Now confirmed.

 

 

Speculation and Manafort’s Change of Lawyers

I want to draw your attention to the some specific language in the Politico story on Paul Manafort’s change of lawyers, quoting a Manafort spokesman (see especially my bold language):

A spokesman confirmed the change. “Mr. Manafort is in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation. As of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort,” Jason Maloni said in a statement.

Now I have absolutely no factual knowledge of the situation.

However, I can not help but notice this.  Apparently, the process of moving back representation to prior counsel was not, at least at the time of the statement, complete.  But, “as of today,” WilmerHale is out of the picture, and apparently it has become important that this is made clear immediately.

Now all the media coverage has focused on the possibility that this change reflects realization of the newly serious situation Manafort faces.  But what strikes me is the apparent speed and finality of the change — so fast that the statement is issued before the retaining of new counsel is complete.  This is in direct contrast to changes made in representation of others caught up in this scandal.  Of course, in a fast moving case, in which the prosecutor has already  shown a willinness to push hard, going even an hour without a lawyer can be very risky.

As a totally general matter, it is an open secret among lawyers that “getting off a case,” is often triggered by disagreement about testimony, or representations made by counsel to legal bodies. Sometimes this can be related to prior testimony or such representations.  More specifically often the problem is the reluctance of counsel to become embroiled in knowing (emphasis added) that testimony is false.  (One might speculate that in such situations, timing can be of the essence.)

Regardless of whether any of my speculation is accurate, you can be sure that Mueller’s staff are already going through everything they have to try to figure out where any problem might be, and to then adjust their strategy.

Not good news for any of those potentially implicated.

Note:  This post appeared initially in my access to justice blog.

 

What Goes Around, Comes Around, Trump Edition

Today, we hear that the Secret Service has moved its Trump Tower Command Center out of the Tower itself, apparently because of contract disputes.

While it is possible that the real motives were understandably aesthetic, could it be that someone at the Secret Service read that Government employees charged with protecting those in their care have been told not to be too careful , “Don’t be too nice.  .  .  .  I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,’”  In other words, do not do your job, or follow your oath.

Did the Secret Service decide not to be “too nice” too?

Almost impossible to imagine.

 

I have the Perfect Title For the Best Book on the Trump Presidency: One Million Minutes

While the exact number is subject to change when the nightmare ends, the concept is clear.  The book would begin something like this:

The now concluded Trump Presidency consumed one million minutes, five thousand presidential tweets, 100 million dollars in investigations, and ten cabinet firings or resignations.

Those minutes were perhaps the most fragmented, fast moving, chaotic, destructive, shocking, confusing and testing minutes in our nation’s history.

The damage done to nation, planet, international system and human beings will take decades to assess fully. 

Above all, the story of those endless minutes is the story of the ultimate resilience of our institutions, notwithstanding the weaknesses and failures of so many who were to play roles in those institutions as they faced the test.

I am less confident of exactly how the book will end, but I am confident that the ultimate resolution will put us on the road to recovery.

 

Murdoch Turns on Trump — an Inflexion Point?

This story, on CNN, has not gotten nearly enough attention.

Basically, Rupert Murdoch has had it with Trump, with editorials in his papers like the Wall Street Journal, trashing him.  As reported by CNN:

Murdoch’s most prestigious outlet, the Wall Street Journal, ran an eye-popping editorial in its conservative-leaning opinion pages on Tuesday.

Titled “The Trumps and the Truth,” the editorial scolded the president’s family for withholding information about Russia-related meetings and discussions.

It said the political realities of Washington “will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe. They don’t have much more time to do it.”

The editorial also said that “denouncing leaks as ‘fake news’ won’t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President’s base, as Mr. Trump’s latest 36% approval rating shows.”

It was the latest in a series of eyebrow-raising editorials. Last week Murdoch’s New York tabloid, the New York Post, labeled Donald Trump Jr. an “idiot” and “criminally stupid.”

Here, by way of reminder, is the Guardian’s 1997 story reporting on Murdoch’s endorsement of Blair and Labor in that election.

The Sun tells its readers today to vote Labour, switching sides after more than 20 years of unswerving support for the Tory party.

In a front page article headlined ‘The Sun Backs Blair’, the paper, which has a daily readership of more than 10 million, says Tony Blair should be the next prime minister.

The Labour leader is the ‘breath of fresh air’ that Britain needs, the editorial says. The Tories are ‘tired, divided and rudderless’ and no longer deserve support.

The paper declares: ‘This is the election for the millennium. In six weeks’ time, Britain will vote for a government to take it into the 21st century.

‘The people need a leader with vision, purpose and courage who can inspire them and fire their imaginations. The Sun believes that man is Tony Blair.’

Editor Stuart Higgins said last night: ‘This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We consider Mr Blair has all the qualities of leadership required to take this great country forward. The Tories are tired, divided and need a good rest to regroup.

No prizes for remembering who won that election, after a long Labour drought, or for noticing the current relevance of the phrase “tired, divided and need a good rest to regroup.”

If this is a precursor of where Fox News is going to go, it’s all over for the Donald.