This isn’t politics. This isn’t partisan. These are moments of sheer stupidity or ignorance or offensiveness or corruption or hubris. I tried to pick the most substantive ones I could remember, but man, you can’t get ‘em all, and you just can’t leave out that one about Frederick Douglass. Without further ado…
A little context to kick things off: the week before the inauguration, the White House canceled its ethics training. Then the rest of this stuff happened.
Four days after the nomination, Mr. Trump invited a group of Senators to the White House for dinner in his first meeting in his official capacity as President. During the dinner he told the Senators he won the popular vote but “three to five million people voted illegally.” The White House soon promised a federal investigation, and they tapped Vice President Mike Pence for the critical post. That investigation hasn’t gone anywhere… yet!
Trump’s first major defeat. A federal judge in Seattle—appointed by George W. Bush—blocked the “travel” ban on the constitutional grounds that it denied due process and infringed on religious rights. The court cited Trump’s own words (and tweets) as evidence. His campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country” is still on his campaign page. Also, his campaign is active, and he’s accepting donations. The second version of the ban got blocked too. Same reason, of course.
After the courts blocked the ban, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to try to undermine the authority of the judiciary branch. He also threatened the “so-called” judge who blocked his ban: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.” Neil Gorsuch, then the SCOTUS nominee said president’s attacks on judges were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”
Mr. Trump went after Nordstrom for “unfairly” pulling his daughter Ivanka’s brand off the shelves. The President composed this tweet about 20 minutes into his intelligence briefing. Nordstrom said it pulled Ivanka’s products because they weren’t selling and that it told Ivanka about the decision a month before.
The Trump White House leaks constantly to the FAKE MEDIA, revealing and probably causing a lot of infighting. The Daily Beast seemed to confirm this with its headline, “Steve Bannon Calls Jared Kushner a ‘Cuck’ and ‘Globalist’ Behind His Back.” Mr. Trump also leaks to the media, specifically to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. Whenever you see a Haberman story cite an anonymous “senior administration official,” odds are it’s Trump.
“Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.” Mr. Trump has discovered there’s only about $20 million in funds available for building the wall. The wall will cost more than a thousand times that amount: around $21 billion. That’s more expensive than funding NASA for a year.
The EPA headed a press release championing an executive order with this: “President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand.” The EPA said it was sorry and it had sent an “internal draft.” Make of that what you will.
In a taped speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, given in front of the country’s most eminent clergy a few weeks into his presidency, Trump went on a rant about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on Celebrity Apprentice: “I want to just pray for Arnold … for those ratings.” At one point he said, “To hell with it,” and also spoke at length about ISIS “chopping off heads. The reason Mr. Trump mentioned the “cutting off of heads” was because he was using the national prayer breakfast as a venue to vaguely threaten the religious liberties of Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism.
As he tweeted about a week ago.
The night after he told the Senate over dinner that he’d won the popular vote, Mr. Trump decided over dinner to launch a special ops ground raid in Yemen. This was the largest special ops “package” since the Obama raid that took out Bin Laden and the first U.S. ground mission in Yemen in two years. But according to NBC, the generals’ winning argument was simply telling Mr. Trump “they doubted that the Obama administration would have been bold enough to try it.”
The Yemen raid resulted in the deaths of somewhere around 40 people: 23 civilians (nine of them under the age of 13, including a four-month-old girl); 14-16 al Qaeda militants; and one U.S. Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William Ryan Owens. According to ten senior military officials the raid hasn’t yielded any actionable intelligence.
Mr. Trump then blamed the military for the raid’s failure and Owens’ death: “This was something they wanted to do. They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do—the generals—who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.”
FWIW, the morning after Owens died in the raid, the first thing Mr. Trump himself did was tweet about The New York Times: “Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!”
And get this. A few days after the raid, Mr. Trump gave up responsibility for making decisions as commander-in-chief. He passed all the decisions about any future raids to his generals and wants nothing to do with it. And yet…
That’s right. If you thought Trump was going to keep us out of the Middle East, check this out: he removed Obama’s caps on troop levels in Syria and Iraq. He said in an interview last week we’re going to be going in. But because Trump has no coherent policy, our government now has no idea what to do in the long run. Yes: we’re sending more troops into Syria. The Trump Doctrine is: everything. Buckle up.
Mr. Trump promised he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act “immediately.” He couldn’t get a bill to the floor though, because the great dealmaker couldn’t reach a deal with his own party. This was, in part, because he verbally threatened Republican congressmen. Just as well: the bill they came up with would have left around 24 million Americans uninsured—many of them Trump voters.
In the middle of a rally, Trump called a superfan (who had been waiting since 4 a.m. to get into the rally) up on stage to testify while Trump walked around approving of the good things the guy said about his dear leader. After the rally, the fan took an interview with CNN, during which he spent a full 18 seconds talking about how he would salute a “cardboard box” of the President “every single day.”
“Every single day I do that, I salute the President, except he’s cardboard, heh heh.” He ended the interview by telling CNN to be “nicer” to the President.
Trump opined on Fredrick Douglass during a Black History Month event, calling him “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and he’s being recognized more and more, I noticed.”
Mr. Trump said “nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated” during his meeting with state governors to discuss details of the new healthcare plan.
Mr. Trump said in a Reuters interview last week that the presidency was much harder than he believed it would be. He’d also printed out copies of the “latest” electoral maps and handed them out while discussing his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Mr. Trump said in an interview last week that when he called NATO “obsolete” during the campaign, he didn’t know anything about NATO. Now that he’s been Presidenting for a few months, he says he knows more and NATO is no longer obsolete.
The rollout of the expanded “global gag order”—which cuts off eight billion dollars to groups who offer abortions, abortion information, or counseling, has been delayed because the Trump administration hasn’t been able to clarify exactly what the enormous ban would include. Both Democrats and Republicans are against the order, which limits funding to globally popular AIDS prevention programs. Under other Republican administrations, the order cut approximately $500 million in US aid funding.
On the second day of his Presidency, Mr. Trump gave a speech at the CIA where he said his inauguration crowd was “a million, a million and a half people.” This was wrong. He then dragged Sean Spicer out to defend the claim. This went on for weeks.
President Trump also told the CIA that “God looked down and he said, we’re not going to let it rain on your [inauguration] speech.” Mr. Trump then lied about it not raining on him while he spoke, and said it was “really sunny.” That’s fucking crazy, folks.
In his first call with the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Trump boasted about the size of his inaugural crowd and electoral victory—again—but was surprised to learn the US had an agreement with Australia that we would take 1250 of the 2500 refugees held for years without trial on the island of Nauru. Trump told the PM, “This is the worst deal ever”; that Australia was sending the US “the next Boston bombers”; and that if Trump accepted the refugees, it would “kill him politically.” But Trump’s own “travel” ban included language specifically referencing this agreement. After the call, Trump took to Twitter to tell the world he was going to “study this dumb deal” that he knew nothing about even though he signed a law specifically accounting for it and bragged about how great that law was for days.
American taxpayers have so far paid about $20 million in order for our President, a self-professed billionaire who pays no taxes to the country he’s now running, to take vacations to a resort he owns. More importantly, he hasn’t divested himself from his businesses, so technically, yes, he’s making money off trips that in three months have cost you and me four times as much as Trump paid for the place to begin with. Mar-a-Lago has doubled its membership fee since Trump was elected.
This is a mini-saga. While Trump was having dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago, North Korea carried out an intermediate-range ballistic missile test. Trump and Abe conferred in the dining room, holding phones to light up secret documents and taking phone calls about an international emergency within earshot of club members eating dinner.
Trump then headed to a wedding reception in the resort’s Grand Ballroom where he posed for some photos with the bride and bridesmaids and delivered an impromptu speech: “I saw them out on the lawn today,” Trump said of the lucky couple. “I said to the Prime Minister of Japan, I said, ‘C’mon, Shinzo, let’s go over and say hello.’” The President added, “They’ve been members of this club for a long time. They’ve paid me a fortune.”
The next morning Trump tweeted, “After two days of very productive talks, Prime Minister Abe is heading back to Japan. L [sic]”
That weekend, Mr. Trump’s friend Richard de Agazio, who pays the President hundreds of thousands of dollars, posted a picture of himself with the soldier who carries the nuclear football, whom Agazio named, on Facebook.
An NBC report cited “multiple senior military and intelligence officials” saying the US was considering a pre-emptive strike on North Korea ahead of an expected nuclear test. The Trump administration scrambled to correct the report. At the very best, different parts of the government weren’t on the same page about military action that could lead to nuclear war.
Mr. Trump also said we were sending “an armada” to protect the peninsula and reassure our allies in Asia that we’ve got their backs. At the time the carrier fleet was heading in the opposite direction. The White House defended itself saying the fleet was heading there eventually. By this logic, the “armada” is also currently heading to San Diego.
The official Twitter account for the President of the United States of America retweeted the following from Trump’s personal Twitter account:
- “I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!”
- “Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.”
- “The failing @nytimes writes total fiction concerning me. They have gotten it wrong for two years, and now are making up stories & sources!”
- “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person, always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
- And they retweeted all the president’s remarks about judges, including this one: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”
Mr. Trump signed an (illegal) order naming noted blogger Steve Bannon to the National Security Council without reading it. Mr. Bannon wrote the order himself.
Mr. Trump hires immigrants on work visas at Mar-a-Lago and Trump Vineyards. Trump Vineyards applied for those work visas in February. Even though Mr. Trump has gone after visa programs, he hasn’t gone after the H2-B visas. Surprisingly, these are the ones he uses to hire these employees.
Ever wonder why things aren’t moving smoothly? Mr. Trump has made 50 nominations for 500 positions in the executive branch. That’s ten percent filled. That’s 90 percent empty.
During his first speech in front of the military, Trump claimed terrorist attacks go “unreported” in the media. Sean Spicer clarified the President meant to say “under-reported,” then released a list of 78 “under-reported” terrorist attacks. PolitiFact found that only one of those 78 attacks didn’t have media coverage—and that attack (in Egypt, not one of Trump’s seven banned countries) didn’t kill anyone and has never been confirmed.
And now, ten incompetent moments in Trump-Russian relations.
The morning after Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigation dealing with Russia and the 2016 election, Mr. Trump launched a series of tweets accusing his predecessor, Barack Obama, of issuing illegal wiretaps on Mr. Trump’s “phones” in Trump Tower in the weeks before the election. Mr. Trump got the “scoop” from an article in Breitbart, which his chief strategist ran for five years. He still hasn’t provided any evidence and according to James Comey, House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, and anyone with a fucking brain, there isn’t any.
Mr. Trump took a twenty-minute cooling-off break after slinging baseless allegations that President Obama committed an impeachable crime against him, then took a potshot at Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In public testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the bureau was actively investigating whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. Comey also debunked Trump’s wild claim that Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower phones. Then the official @potus Twitter account tweeted that Comey said the hacking didn’t influence the election results. Comey, asked about it live on the floor a few minutes later, said that wasn’t true.
I don’t know where to start here, but Mr. Trump fired his National Security Adviser less than a month into his term. Michael Flynn was caught in a lie about having discussed sanctions with the Russian Ambassador during the transition. Trump reportedly fired him not for the phone call but for lying to the Vice President about it. Flynn also lied to the American people.
Flash forward: turns out Michael Flynn got paid by the Russian government for a speech in 2015, but he never reported it to the government or the transition team. Turns out Michael Flynn also got paid about $500,000 from Turkey a few months before the election. Turns out Michael Flynn didn’t register as a foreign agent until about a month after Trump fired him. Turns out The Associated Press reported the “Trump transition knew Flynn might register as foreign agent.” Turns out the Trump team blamed the Obama administration for giving Michael Flynn security clearance but had indeed conducted its own background check. Turns out Michael Flynn was hand-delivered a pro-Putin Ukrainian politician’s recommendations for lifting sanctions two days before he was fired. Turns out Michael Flynn lied to the U.S. government on his SF 86 national security clearance forms. Turns out Michael Flynn sneaked the Russian Ambassador into Trump Tower for a secret meeting with Jared Kushner. Turns out Michael Flynn offered to testify in front of Congress about the Trump-Russia investigation in exchange for immunity, but was denied that opportunity.
Michael Flynn, everybody!
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he had evidence “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” He got that info from, where else, the White House. The next morning, Nunes went back to the White House to brief Mr. Trump on the information he’d received from the White House. Then he told the media about it, and possibly revealed classified information about an ongoing FBI criminal investigation. Whoops! A few days later, Nunes recused himself from the Russia investigation, presumably because he couldn’t take “Intelligence” Committee jokes any more.
Mr. Trump gave the following responsibilities to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has no experience in government:
- Head the Office of American Innovation
- Improve healthcare for veterans
- Fight the opioid epidemic
- Head up Criminal Justice Reform
- Come up with plans for Iraq and ISIS
- Fix trade with China
- Improve Mexican relations
- Establish peace in the Middle East
Kushner and Michael Flynn were also revealed to have met secretly in Trump Tower with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Mr. Trump took office. The New York Times speculates that because Kushner “did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months,” he might be targeted by the FBI investigation into Trump-Russia connections.
Reuters reported that during Trump’s first phone call as President with Russian President Vladimir Putin, “When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was.” Trump, having then learned all about it, promptly called it a bad deal. Trump also talked about his own popularity again. At one point, Trump turned off the recording of this phone call.
Sessions got caught lying to the Senate about having contacts with Russia during the campaign—he’d met the Ambassador twice and had a phone call with him, one of the meetings was illegally paid for with campaign donations, and Sessions was the only member of the Armed Services Committee to meet the Ambassador in 2016. Mr. Trump said Sessions shouldn’t recuse himself from the Russia investigation. A few hours later, Sessions recused himself.
I bet you thought this entertainingly unqualified billionaire Secretary of Education who never went to public school was nominated because she and her family gave literally millions of dollars to Trump. Turns out her husband runs a company called Spectrum Health that, along with Russia’s Alfa Bank, were the only entities pinging a Trump Tower server that reportedly had been tapped by the FBI during the campaign.
Also, turns out Betsy DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, who ran Blackwater, met secretly in January with a Putin senior aide in the fucking Seychelles as part of “an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump.” I’m not making this shit up.
Here are a few people who have been fired from Team Trump: Chris Christie (replaced by Pence as head of the transition), Boris Epshteyn (special assistant to the President and suspect in Russia investigation), Gerrit Lansing (chief digital adviser), Anthony Scaramucci (director of the Office of Public Intergovernmental Affairs), Gen. Michael Flynn (National Security Adviser/Russia), K.T. McFarland (deputy National Security Advisor), Michael Flynn, Jr., (#pizzagate advisor), Katie Walsh (deputy chief of staff), Craig Deere (an NSC senior director), Shermichael Singleton (a senior adviser to Ben Carson, who got fired without Ben knowing about it). Lastly, counterterrorism advisor (and Nazi) Sebastian Gorka just got the jackboot—and guess what? He’s involved with Russia, too.
Trump changed his entire administration’s non-interventionist foreign policy in less than two days because he and Ivanka saw pictures of children killed in a chemical attack. (Assad had killed 500,000 people before then, including hanging 35,000 people at a single prison.) Mr. Trump launched missiles at a Syrian airfield, but he warned Russia about it before warning the US Congress. The next day, Syrian planes took off from that airbase and bombed the same town, and the Pentagon opened an investigation into whether Russians (who we knew were at the base because we warned them) were involved in the chemical attack. Mr. Trump then happily told Fox News the story of ordering the missile strike to avenge the “beautiful babies” while eating a “beautiful” piece of Mar-a-Lago chocolate cake with the Chinese President.
To bring this all back around, one really great way to get Assad back, Mr. Trump, would be to give the families he wants to kill a chance to live in the greatest country in the world.