Tuesday, October 20, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt thirteen)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

The upbeat messages from the administration continued. “We have it very much under control,” Trump told reporters on February 23. “Very interestingly, we’ve had no deaths.” The next day he tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” and added, “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

But on February 25, as Trump boarded Air Force One to return from a state visit to India, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, issued a stark public warning. Schools might have to close, conferences might be curtailed, and businesses may have to have employees work from hom. “The disruption to everyday life may be severe,” she told reporters. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

Some conservatives, including Rush Limbaugh, immediately jumped on Messonnier as part of a deep state conspiracy to use the virus to undermine Trump. They pointed out that Messonnier was the sister of Rod Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general, who had overseen the Mueller investigation and resigned in spring 2019.

Monday, October 19, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt twelve)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

Six days earlier, Attorney General Bill Barr had blasted Trump in a remarkable television interview, saying that Trump’s tweets were making it “impossible for me to do my job.”

Barr made the comments after Trump posted a tweet around 2:00 a.m. on February 11 protesting the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation of up to nine years for his political associate Roger Stone. The afternoon of February 11, the Justice Department filed a revised sentencing recommendation suggesting a sentence for Stone of three to four years. All four prosecutors withdrew from the case, one resigning from the Justice Department entirely.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt eleven)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

“Administration Elevates Response to Coronavirus, Quarantines, Travel Restrictions” ran the headline of the lead story in The Washington Post the next day, pushing impeachment aside. In The New York Times the news appeared below the fold, headlined, “Declaring Health Emergency, U.S. Restricts Travel from China.”

Despite the conclusive evidence that at least five people wanted the restrictions—Fauci, Azar, Redfield, O’Brien and Pottinger—in an interview March 19, President Trump told me he deserved exclusive credit for the travel restrictions from China. “I had 21 people in my office, in the Oval Office, and of the 21 there was one person that said we have to close it down. That was me. Nobody wanted to because it was too early.”

On May 6, he told me, “And let me tell you, I had a room of 20 to 21 people and everyone in that room except me did not want to have that ban.”

At least seven times, including a press briefing, a televised town hall, interviews on Fox News and ABC and in meetings with industry executives and Republican lawmakers, he has repeated versions of this story.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt ten)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

Trump said he told Kim when it came to denuclearization, “I know every one of your sites better than any of my people.” He reminded me again of his late uncle, Dr. John Trump, a physicist who taught electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1983. “He was at MIT for 42 years or something. He was a great—so I understand that stuff. You know, genetically.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt nine)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

The military always tells you the alliances with NATO and South Korea are the best bargain the United States makes, I noted, a great investment in joint defense.

“The military people are wrong,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t say they were stupid, because I would never say that about our military people. But if they said that, they—whoever said that was stupid. It’s a horrible bargain. We’re protecting South Korea from North Korea, and they’re making a fortune with televisions and ships and everything else. Right? They make so much money. Costs us $10 billion. We’re suckers.”

Thursday, October 15, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt eight)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

Speaking out didn’t seem to work, Coats said. Admiral Bill McRaven, who had led Operation Neptune Spear, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, had continuously mounted an aggressive, personal and public criticism of Trump. In an open letter to Trump published in The Washington Post in August 2018 after Trump revoked John Brennan’s security clearance, McRaven had written that the president had “embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us a nation.” He challenged Trump to revoke his security clearance: “I would consider it an honor.”

McRaven, a Navy SEAL, was one of the most celebrated military figures, a warrior scholar, bestselling author and now chancellor of the University of Texas system.

Trump had blasted back, calling McRaven “a Hillary Clinton fan” and suggested he should have captured bin Laden earlier. As best Coats could tell, McRaven’s gutsy stand seemed to have had no impact.

Mattis said they still had to consider stepping forward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

the last book I ever read (Rage by Bob Woodward, excerpt seven)

from Rage by Bob Woodward:

In a March 2020 opinion issued in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking the lifting of redactions in the Mueller report, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton, an appointee of George W. Bush, wrote that Barr “distorted the findings in the Mueller Report.”

Walton wrote that Barr failed to note in his letter that Mueller’s probe “identified multiple contacts… between Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government.” On the obstruction issue, Walton wrote, Barr “failed to disclose to the American public” that the reason Mueller determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment was because of the Justice Department’s policy against charging a sitting president with a federal crime.

“The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements,” Walton wrote in his opinion, “made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.”