Trump’s VERY Bad Week
After Comey testimony, president ends White House Pride support for LGBT to placate GOP base.
June 8 was one of the worst days in Donald Trump’s 140 day old Presidency. In a much-anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, former FBI Director James Comey labeled Trump a liar who had defamed him and the FBI.
Comey’s testimony followed a series of bad days for Trump which began with three days of the president attacking London Mayor Sadiq Khan after the June 3 London Bridge terrorist attack that killed 8 and injured several dozen.
Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
A series of articles describing Trump as angry, agitated, self-isolating and out of control further antagonized the intemperate president, leading him to Twitter to malign the "fake news" media. Again.
The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
And then, more defensively:
Sorry folks, but if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
Comey blindsided Trump and his attorneys by releasing a detailed statement to the Senate the day before the hearing, derailing any attempts by Trump to spin whatever Comey might say in the June 8 hearing.
Comey testifies; VIA CNN
And what Comey did say was nothing short of devastating. He opened his testimony explaining why he had chosen to testify: because, he said, the president had lied about him and worse, in his perception, about the FBI.
"Although the law requires no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader," Comey said in his opening remarks to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a hearing room on Capitol Hill.
"Those were lies plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI work force had to hear them and I am so sorry that the American people were told them," Comey said.
There were other damning details revealed by Comey in the hearing, half of which was open and broadcast to the public on C-SPAN and half closed. The closed session was because the details Comey discussed involved both the ongoing investigation into the interference in the 2016 election by Russia and any collusion between the Trump administration and Russia to effect that result.
Comey’s testimony presented a president who was more like a mobster—demanding loyalty oaths and requesting that Comey stop investigating his friend and confidant, Gen. Mike Flynn, who Trump had initially hired as is National Security Advisor.
Comey said he had pleaded with Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump, but Sessions had refused. After the closed session ended, members of the committee told the press that Sessions was still under investigation because he had failed to inform the
Senate and FBI that he had met with the Russians on three separate occasions.
Most damning for the president was Comey’s assertion that he could not discuss the dossier prepared by a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele. When asked about the dossier by Sen. Richard Burr, co-chair of the committee, Comey was succinct–there was an ongoing criminal investigation regarding the details within the dossier.
Months earlier several news outlets had published many of the incriminating allegations, leading to a series of salacious memes on social media.
Trump’s attorney had previously asserted that the dossier had been "debunked," but such is obviously not the case. That dossier alleges, among other things, that Trump was compromised by the Russians because of engaging in deviate sex acts with Russian sex workers.
In his June 7 statement, Comey related a March 30 phone call from Trump. Comey said the President denied some of the details in the dossier. Comey said, "[Trump] said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia."
It is unclear from the written testimony who chose the word "hookers," but given Trump’s vernacular that we have become altogether too familiar with, it would seem it would be his, not Comey’s. (I am using the preferred term, sex worker, except when quoting directly.)
The exhaustive hearing did not lead directly to obstruction of justice charges against Trump, but the Democrats in the hearing and some in the House expressed to the press post-hearing that it seemed that was indeed on the table.
What was unequivocal was the determination that Russia did indeed interfere with the 2016 election, that such interference is ongoing and that the 2018 election is quite possibly at risk. Comey refused to address whether or not the Russian interference altered the final vote, but one of my longtime sources in Washington said they believed the FBI was currently looking at hacking of Hillary Clinton’s analytics: Hacking into those would have led the Clinton team to believe certain states that had previously voted blue were "safe" and lead her to attempt to reel in other red states like Florida., rather than going to Wisconsin and Michigan.
Trump was silent throughout the day, despite a very light schedule. There was no tweeting, no statement. Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, issued a statement in which he asserted that Comey’s testimony "vindicated" the president, a false reading of the day’s events.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders; VIA CNN Money
In a contentious press briefing, Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "I can definitively say, the president is not a liar."
Trump has repeatedly been caught in lies and regularly contradicts himself on Twitter. So Huckabee Sanders’ statement is definitively false.
Trump has attempted to deflect from the Comey hearing all week. Monday he held a signing, replete with many people in attendance just as he does for executive orders, but he was actually just signing a letter—a memo, really—to address privatization of air traffic controllers.
The news broke two days later than it was a fake news event in the Oval Office, adding to Trump’s bad week.
June isn’t just Trump’s worst month in office so far, however. It’s also Pride Month and for the first time in years, there has been no proclamation from the White House in support of LGBT Americans, despite Trump’s assertion he would be best for LGBT people when he was running for president.
His daughter Ivanka has been the only one in the family to address Pride month publicly.
I am proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 2, 2017
That campaign pledge Trump made to honor LGBT Americans was further sundered while Comey was testifying. Although not listed on his official schedule, the president was speaking to the virulently anti-LGBT "Road to Majority" conference.
The extremist evangelical conference is hosted by the homophobia Faith and Freedom Coalition which has compared lesbians and gays to pedophiles and criminals. Trump is the first president to speak at their event.
Trump told the group that "we're under siege" but will emerge "bigger and better and stronger than ever."
Trump has recently claimed evangelical Christian leanings, though he does not belong to a church.
Vice President Pence, who had cancelled interviews after Comey’s statement was released Wednesday, was also in attendance. Pence and other members of Trump’s Cabinet are virulently anti-LGBT.
Trump asserted, "We will always support our evangelical community and defend your right and the right of all Americans to follow and to live by the teachings of their faith."
The president told the group of religious freedom activists who have been pushing anti-LGBT "religious freedom" laws nationally "And as you know, we're under siege, you understand that. But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You watch," Trump said. "You fought hard for me and now I'm fighting hard for all of you."
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
Trump is not fighting for is LGBT Americans. One of the president’s first actions was to remove the LGBT page from the White House website on Inauguration Day. Since then he has signed onto numerous anti-LGBT "religious freedom" issues as well as promoting anti-trans discrimination. On June 7, Trump revived the fight for the GOP health care plan, AHCA, which will impact LGBT people.
Trump’s appearance at the Road to Majority conference was yet more evidence that he intends only to speak to his base. Gone are the rainbow flags and the White House lit with the rainbow as it was during the Obama Administration.
June 11 The Equality March for Unity and Pride is expected to bring thousands to Washington, DC. But Trump has made no statement about the event, about Pride or even about the first anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre June 12. That terrorist attack was the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
As the nation takes in the testimony of James Comey and the Congress debates what the next steps will be in its own investigation—Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner is now scheduled to testify and Flynn turned over documents to the Intelligence Committee Thursday night—Trump continues to scapegoat the most vulnerable Americans to pander to his base, LGBT people among them.
Comey’s testimony proved Trump is not on the side of America. And his speech at the Road to Recovery proved he is not now, nor ever was, on the side of LGBT people.
Trump is president of all Americans. When he will begin to act like one is the question no committee seems able to answer.