The Trump presidency has been a collage of outrages.
The biggest outrage: It’s all been our tab.
Like the three-dollar glasses of water billed to us by Mar-a-Lago when Trump’s club raked in $37,500 hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Ahem. What did we pay for the oyster crackers?
In his four years in office, reports the Washington Post, Trump’s businesses have reaped $18.1 million in business from taxpayers and supporters.
If this offends you, or if it doesn’t, consider: The Justice Department has run up massive legal bills trying to get Trump out from under a defamation suit based on allegations of rape.
Former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll accuses him of that. Trump calls her a liar. The Justice Department asserts that he can’t defend himself and wants the federal government — you and me – to do that. A federal judge just nixed the idea.
Your tax dollars at work — enriching this man and buffeting him from accountability for an accused felony.
In fact, the whole of the Carroll defamation suit, and the Justice Department’s indefensible role in it – he was Private Citizen Trump when the offense was alleged — is analogous to this man’s presidency.
The whole four years have been a battle by his appointed loyalists to keep him from testifying under oath.
That’s a hefty chunk of the first of Bob Woodward’s two books on the Trump presidency.
It’s called “Fear,” which one assumes to mean a ruthless and wrathful leader. Instead, it should be called “Fear of a Subpoena.”
The fact is for someone so practiced at lying, Donald Trump is just not very good at it.
That’s why former White House Counsel John Dowd fought with every sinew of his creaking body to keep Trump from an under-oath conversation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Dowd, who resigned over disagreements with Trump over his legal strategy in the Mueller investigation, knew that the moment Trump opened his mouth he would break the law.
Dowd, a former DOJ employee and expert defender of accused white-collar criminals, finagled a chance for Trump to obfuscate via written responses to Mueller’s questions.
This helped the greatest liar in our annals to lie that he was “totally exonerated” of obstructing justice and colluding with Russians and their handmaidens at Wikileaks.
Two years before Woodward reported that Trump also lied to this country about the severity and danger of the pandemic now ravaging the country, here’s how Woodward ties up “Fear” in describing the frustrations of Trump’s lawyer:
“In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying ‘Fake News,’ the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to tell the president: ‘You’re a (bleeping) liar.”
Woodward does not expurgate that. The record affirms that.
Notice how weakly Trump responded to the report that he called war dead “suckers” or the intelligence about Russians placing bounties on the heads of U.S. troops. He defended not visiting the gravesites of fallen U.S. soldiers at a cemetery outside Paris by saying the weather prevented him from going. For someone so practiced at lying, you’d think he'd be better at it.
Instead, he's come to realize that his cult following doesn’t care about those things. He might as well be standing before them wearing a ram’s head and asserting command of moon and stars. They’re fine with it. They’re believers.
Right now, however, a lot of Republican office holders are losing their religion. They face riding his coattails into oblivion.
One of them is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who figures in one of Woodward’s most telling anecdotes.
Graham was in the room at the White House, and expressed offense, when Trump referred to mostly black nations as “shithole countries.”
The next day, the story having become an object of national conversation, Graham and Trump were on the golf course.
Trump said he didn’t say what was reported.
Graham said, “Yeah, you did.”
Trump pivoted, “Well, some people like what I said.”
True. Some people – we are about to see how many — like a practicing liar and viper in the White House.
Vote for Trump if chaos, hatred, and dishonesty are also your values.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.