Individually they may not be a big deal. Even collectively they do not rival President Trump’s domestic and foreign policy demolition derby for the most pressing issues of our time. But Trump’s moral depravity and attack on democratic norms remain critically important, as does the pushback which is thankfully coming with more frequency and rigor than ever before.
The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump “did disrespect my son” with remarks in a condolence telephone call.
Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. Johnson’s mother also stood by an account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Johnson’s widow that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”
“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Jones-Johnson said.
Trump lashed back. He denied Wilson’s account in a Twitter message Wednesday. He said he had “proof” that the exchange did not go as Wilson had described. Trump did not elaborate, but the claim again raised questions about whether the president tapes calls and conversations.
Later Wednesday, Trump expanded on his denial.
Sgt. Johnson’s mother, his wife and Rep. Wilson all confirm that Trump was disrespectful, if not cruel.
“Wilson went on to say Trump “was almost like joking. He said, ‘Well, I guess you knew’ — something to the effect that ‘he knew what he was getting into when he signed up, but I guess it hurts anyway.’ You know, just matter-of-factly, that this is what happens, anyone who is signing up for military duty is signing up to die. That’s the way we interpreted it. It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid.”
“[His widow] was in tears. She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’”
Trump’s hideous lack of empathy and determination to lie when he’s caught behaving inappropriately cannot be allowed to pass. His word cannot be trusted, his conduct must be repudiated.
Principle: The country needs to collectively come to grips with Trump’s unfitness — and remember that voting for a miserable human being for president isn’t justified because he’ll sign a tax cut or appoint a judge. Those who have enabled him deserve our scorn.
Next, Trump has spent ridiculous amounts of time and effort to stir the pot on the NFL kneeling protests. The NFL has now officially decided to tell him to butt out. Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear the NFL will not require players to stand for the anthem.
“NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change,” he said. “We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together. Asked if the owner would demand players stand, he answered, “We did not ask for that.”
Trump threw a fit on Twitter, but once again Trump got stepped over and ignored by the NFL. (He was the failed owner of the New Jersey Generals of the now-defunct USFL.)
The principle: Trump isn’t going to tell people how to protest, or companies how to run their businesses.
Then there is his attack on the “disgusting” First Amendment. A Federal Communications Commission member and then the chairman (a Trump appointment) rebuffed the president. “The FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment,” Chairman Ajit Pai said this week. “And under the law the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast.” Even more emphatically, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel over the weekend said: “History won’t be kind to silence. I think it’s important for all the commissioners to make clear that they support the First Amendment, and that the agency will not revoke a broadcast license simply because the president is dissatisfied with the licensee’s coverage.”
The principle: Trump cannot trample on free speech, chill opposition and expect to be given a free pass. Indeed, his utterance(s) become part of the case for his unfitness to hold office.
And let’s not forget his grotesque conflicts of interest, self-enrichment and alleged violation of the Emoluments Clause. The Center for Responsibility in Washington was in federal court in New York today arguing to halt Trump’s receipt of monies received from foreign governments. In a press release following oral argument, CREW said that “the American people must be confident that the president is acting in our interest, not being influenced by payments from foreign governments, state governments, or the federal government.” The statement continued, “We and our co-plaintiffs Eric Goode, Jill Phaneuf, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center United are glad to have had the opportunity today to tell the Court why we are the right parties to bring this important case and why it is right and appropriate for the president to be held accountable for violating the Emoluments Clauses, which were intended to protect this country against the risk of significant corruption.” A decision is expected within 30 to 60 days.
The principle: Trump’s financial abuse of his office cannot become the new normal; if Democrats ever win the House the universe of his financial dealings (conflicts of interest, nepotism, emoluments receipt) can for the basis for impeachment, or at the very least, hearings with subpoena power.
Finally, new evidence arises every day suggesting the president is totally incapable of performing his duties. In a response to Trump’s on-again/off-again/sort of on-again support for the Obamacare compromise worked out by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor: “President keeps zigging and zagging, so it’s impossible to govern.” After recounting the contradictory statements in public and private Schumer said, “[Trump] doesn’t know what the bill is. We should have a President who actually knows the facts of bills that he talks about. . . . [H]he’s totally inconsistent. For it one day, against it the next day. You can’t govern, Mr. President, you cannot govern a country, you cannot keep America great if you don’t know what’s in the bills and don’t have a consistent policy about them. But he keeps zigging and zagging, our only hope it maybe tomorrow he’ll be for this again.” Shorter: He’s overwhelmed and unable rationally to perform his duties.
The principle: Trump may in fact be reaching the point at which the 25th Amendment becomes a consideration. In the future, we must never, ever elect someone as intellectually, temperamentally and morally deficient as Trump. He remains a menace to the country.