Today’s Roundup of Washington DC in the Trump Era


Looking for news you can trust?Subscribe to our free newsletters.

I don’t know how obvious this is, but I try not to spend too much time on what I think of as the Trump soap opera. You know: every tweet, every lawsuit, every piece of evidence that Trump is a moron, every news report that he’s going crazy, every rumor about the Mueller investigation, etc. etc. There have to be better things to do with our lives, right? Still, some days practically beg for at least a roundup. So here goes.

The Republican Congress, in an act of almost superhuman duplicity, brought yet another balanced budget amendment to the floor of the House. They didn’t actually want it to pass, and it didn’t. Maybe next time Democrats should all vote for it just to screw with their minds.
James Comey says that during dinner in 2017, Trump was absolutely obsessed with the “pee tape.” I guess that means we should all update our priors about how likely it is to actually exist.

According to the Washington Post, Comey also writes in his new book that “Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.” More importantly, says David Corn, is the revelation that neither Trump nor any of his aides seemed to care about possible Russian interference in the election. The Post describes it this way: “Comey recalls being struck that neither Trump nor his advisers asked about the future Russian threat, nor how the United States might prepare to meet it. Rather, he writes, they focused on ‘how they could spin what we’d just told them.’ “
Trump’s personal attorney/bag man, Michael Cohen, noted in a court filing today that he might plead the Fifth Amendment on certain subjects.
In other Cohen news, it turns out that Cohen apparently had a habit of recording conversations. All of them. “If you are looking for evidence, you can’t do any better than people talking on tape,” Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, told the Washington Post. Such recordings “would be considered a gold mine,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University who specializes in legal ethics.
You already know that Trump suddenly decided to look into rejoining the TPP. He also suddenly decided to order a report on the Post Office’s finances, presumably hoping to somehow prove that Amazon is getting a sweetheart deal.
Kevin Chmielewski, a longtime Trump supporter, was Scott Pruitt’s deputy chief of staff until Pruitt fired him in March. Chmielewski met with several congressional Democrats recently, and they wrote a letter today about what Chmielewski told them. I could summarize it for you, but really, you need to read it for yourself. The true flavor only comes through if you read (and read and read) about the astonishing number of sketchy activities that Pruitt engaged in. He apparently thought he’d been appointed pope, not EPA administrator.
The Wall Street Journal says that Trump is planning to “ratchet up” the pressure on China over trade. I guess there must be an election coming up.
The media went crazy over a story about the National Enquirer paying off a former doorman at a Trump building who said he knew of a secret Trump “love child.” The feeding frenzy wasn’t so much about the love child story itself, but about the news that the AP had the story last August but decided not to publish it. They did so today, and it turns out that lots of other outlets knew about it too—and hastily went to press after the AP story dropped. Here’s the New Yorker version, written by Ronan Farrow.

I’m probably missing a few things, but it’s dinnertime here in California. I’m going to go eat.