At a Norfolk, Virginia ceremony today, President Trump commissioned the new aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.
There are manifold ironies afoot here.
One ship sets sail as another conceivably sinks. Is that sinking ship the Trump presidency or our American democracy?
We have a naval vessel, honoring an honorable public servant, launched by someone who’s something less than that.
At the ceremony, Trump declares that the warship will cause America’s enemies to “shake with fear,” even as he confoundingly cozies up to arguably our main adversary, Vladimir Putin.
On some level, we all saw it coming. Courtesy of The Washington Post, today’s Trump scandal news is that the president’s attorneys are exploring pardons for his family, aides and even himself. What’s more, they’re looking for ways of discrediting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s disrupting our democracy.
A key passage from the story:
[Trump] has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns…
You’ve probably read about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016 meeting to discuss Russian
orphans sanctions collusion with his dad’s campaign. If you want a good summary of why this is so important, see this Nicholas Kristof column.
Here’s one aspect that could become increasingly crucial: Consider the sources.
As Josh Marshall points out at his superb Talking Points Memo mega-blog, the New York Times cited five White House advisers – not law enforcement officials or other outside actors – as sources for its groundbreaking article on the meeting. He accordingly wonders whether the leaks for the story spring from the many splits within President Trump’s inner circle. The Washington Post points out that Trump aides are themselves pondering that possibility:
According to this New York Times story, last June Donald Trump Jr., presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The key take-away from the article: “The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.”
A TANGLED WEB
The article and related reporting goes on to make matters murkier and potentially more incriminating. Trump Jr.’s inconsistent responses have flowed from first insisting that the meeting was mainly about adoptions to later, after the Times story appeared, asserting that he was fooled into seeing the lawyer because she claimed she had dirt on the Democrats and Hillary. According to Junior, that claim was a Russian ruse, for after briefly offering some nonsensical accusations against Clinton, she moved on to her real agenda: lobbying against a U.S. law that blacklists certain corrupt Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses, a law that has triggered Putin’s retaliation of barring Americans from adopting Russian kids.
A Lesson from a Tragedy
With so much nasty stuff dominating the headlines, it’s hard to find some solace in the news. But one very sad story has a sort of silver lining.
It’s this article, about the seven sailors who died Saturday when their Navy destroyer collided with a container ship off the shores of Japan. Amidst this tragedy, one salient aspect is how diverse and inspiring their backgrounds were, including “an immigrant from the Philippines whose father served in the Navy before him; a poor teenager whose Guatemalan family came north eager for opportunity; a native of Vietnam hoping to help his family; a firefighter’s son from a rural crossroads in the rolling green fields of Virginia.”