Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “It is now time to focus exclusively on properly running our great Country!” Meaning, let’s get back to threatening to close the U.S.-Mexico border, cutting aid to three Central American nations, proposing to scrap Obamacare, calling into question the legitimacy of Democratic victories in the 2018 elections, and suggesting that wind turbines cause cancer. That’s what Trump would prefer to talk about rather than allegations of misdoing.
Not so fast. Here were four top Post headlines on the evening of April 3:
Yup: The four top stories on the Post homepage were on Trump scandals. That’s not, as Trump and his followers imagine, because the “fake news media” have it out for him. It’s because he presides over one of the most unethical and inept administrations in history. Ergo, we are guaranteed to read allegations of Trump misdeeds as long as he remains in office — and probably long afterward.
The way that the Trump administration tried to spin the end of the Mueller investigation was a sign of its unscrupulousness and ineptitude. Having Attorney General William P. Barr issue a four-page summary of Mueller’s nearly 400-page report, purporting to clear Trump, must have seemed like a good idea at the time. But it now looks like a clumsy cover-up that is blowing up in Barr’s face, doing serious damage to the reputation for integrity that he has spent a lifetime cultivating.
Following up and expanding on a New York Times scoop, The Post reported that “members of Mueller’s team” are griping “that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was ... much more acute than Barr suggested.” The Mueller team members are also expressing disappointment that Barr chose not to release the summaries they had prepared for each section of their report — “done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself.” Instead, Barr chose to put his own exculpatory spin on the investigation, even though the Mueller report “does not exonerate” Trump.
That Mueller’s team members are now leaking for the first time in 22 months is an indication of how upset they are — and how seriously the attorney general blundered. These revelations increase the pressure on the administration to release the full Mueller report — a prospect that Trump once claimed to welcome but now seems to dread. It’s almost as if the report does not actually exonerate him.
Meanwhile, the normal witches’ brew of administration scandals continues to simmer along. We have just learned that the “senior White House official” who was initially denied a security clearance as per a document released by a White House whistleblower was none other than Jared Kushner — and that security professionals cited as reasons for their denial “concerns about foreign influence, private business interests and personal conduct.” Trump, of course, proceeded to give his son-in-law a clearance anyway and then lie about having done so.
We have also learned that Trump has been tolerating serious security lapses in his eagerness to profit from his Mar-a-Lago resort. One of those admitted to the president’s resort, and subsequently arrested, was a Chinese national “carrying four cellphones, a laptop and a thumb drive with malicious software.” The New York Times noted: “The normally tight-lipped Secret Service was so disturbed by the breach that it issued an unusual statement that effectively blamed the Mar-a-Lago staff for not tightly tracking the comings and goings of guests.”
We have yet to learn what is in Trump’s tax returns or even whether he is genuinely under audit. But we took one giant step closer to unraveling that mystery when the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee wrote to the IRS on Wednesday to demand, as his right under a 1924 law, access to the last six years of the president’s tax returns. Clearly, Trump has something to hide, otherwise he would not have refused to release his returns. The only question is whether he is hiding something relatively innocuous (e.g., a net worth lower than claimed) or something more sinister (e.g., tax fraud or financial dependence on foreign powers).
Mind you, these are only one day’s headlines. There is not a “hoax” among them. Whether the president broke the law — or, more accurately, whether investigators can find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he broke the law — remains to be determined. But, by now, there can be no serious doubt that Trump has violated ethical norms, sullied his office and betrayed the trust of the American people.