You Are There
Back in the 1950s there was a CBS TV series called You Are There. It took historical events and dramatized them as if there was television at the time and news teams covering them. Several of the networks actual reporters were involved, and Walter Cronkite was the host. He would begin each show setting up the event and then wrapped up the importance of it all with the traditional opening that was along the lines of -- "What kind of a day was it? A day like all other days. Except...You Are There."
That's the way I feel about living in the Time of Trump. And yesterday was just another one of those normal days we've come to expect. Not normal in the greater sense in American history, but a Trump administration day. What kind of a day was it?, you find yourself continually asking. A day just like any other day during the Trump administration. Except...We are all there, living through it.
Yesterday, it was reported that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had told associates that his client never repaid the $130,000 hush money Cohen had paid the porn actress on Trump's behalf. We learned that Christopher Steele had written an additional memo saying that Russia told Trump not to make Mitt Romney Secretary of State and instead hire Rex Tillerson. A New York Times news story reported that the State Department is yet to spend the $120 million that Congress has authorized to combat Russian attempts to attack U.S. elections. The Trump name was taken off a hotel in Panama and the Trump Organization is removed from managing it over a commercial dispute. Reports surfaced that the Special Counsel is now investigating Jared Kushner for illegal dealings with Turkey. A White House official had to correct an earlier statement by Trump who had relayed a phone conversation he had with North Korea -- except it turns out the call he got was from South Korea (Note: there's a difference), so that exchange never took place.
And none of this dominated the news because former Trump political adviser Sam Nunberg was on his National TV Meltdown Tour going to at least four television news shows, a local New York radio station and the Washington Post saying -- oh, I don't know, you figure out the mess. But among many other things it was that he's pretty sure Trump was involved with doing something illegal with Russia, the press secretary is a liar and should stop, Roger Stone and Steve Bannon are great guys who never did anything wrong, and he is not going to respond to a subpoena from the Special Counsel, no way, not ever he wouldn't change his mind, and believes it's hilarious that anyone thinks he would go to jail for that. And no, he hasn't spoken to his lawyer, who he isn't sure even represents him any more. And then in the evening, after saying this all day over and over and over, he then said he’ll cooperate – though only sort of. (I’m sure what happened is that his lawyer finally did speak to him, and also his family. And they all said, “ARE YOU NUTS??!! You will go to jail!!!! For 18 months!!” Further, I suspect that at some point, Mr. Nunberg will drop the “only sort of” part and fully cooperate, because as prosecutor Maya Wiley did her best to warn him on Ari Melber's MSNBC show, "I think your family wants you home for Thanksgiving.")
By the way, lost in all the coverage of Sam Nunberg is when he said to Katy Tur on MSNBC how if he had still been with the Trump campaign when they had the presidential debates he'd have brought "Bill Clinton's illegitimate black child" to the debate. Ms. Tur's look of exasperation was palpable, and as politely but bluntly as possible told him to knock it off and then got the story back on track. She soon after cut off the interview and said how this whole thing was "remarkable," adding wearily "It's all remarkable." But hey, what do you expect from a guy who kept saying how Roger Stone (trained by Roy Cohn, arguably the most disgraceful lawyer of the 20th century) was his "mentor." And "like a father to me." The good news in all of this, by the way, is Mr. Nunberg showing his subpoena and the world seeing that Roger Stone is being investigated.
What kind of a day was it? A day like all other days. Except...You Are There.
(Mind you, my favorite story of the day was a far lesser one than all these, but one that perhaps put it all in perspective. It was an article in Washingtonian that said single Republicans in Washington D.C. were complaining that if they worked on the Trump campaign, or sometimes just because they were conservative, they're having a hard time getting dates because young women in D.C. won't go out with them. Ahhh, Lysistrata strikes again! The ancient Greek play about women going on a sex strike to stop a war. So, gee, it turns out that there's a downside to waging War on Women. And the battle is taking casualties. Who'd have figured?)
And this was ALL yesterday. It doesn't include the stories over the last couple days of Trump praising Chinese president Xi Jinping for removing term limits and basically making himself dictator for life -- which Trump quipped he'd like to look into that here in the U.S. at some point. Or that Trump friend and former presidential adviser Carl Icahn, already under investigation for insider trading from his time in the White House, dumping $30 million in steel and aluminum stock just before Trump said he'd be putting tariffs on steel and aluminum. Or the three-month ESPN investigation of the UCLA basketball shoplifting scandal that showed, among other things, Trump had absolutely nothing to do with the resolution for which he had showered himself with praise, that by the time he called China it was settled, the players had their passports, and plane tickets back to the U.S. No, no, those are from the last few days. They don't count. All this above was just yesterday.
And this doesn't even include the admitted-rumor last night from GOP strategist, the reasonable, respected Mike Murphy, who told Lawrence O'Donnell that a trusted business connection told him that he'd been informed that Robert Mueller has in his possession a Memo of Understanding between Trump and Putin from the early days of the 2016 campaign. Murphy emphatically acknowledged he had zero knowledge if such a thing was even remotely true, though said his friend is a credible person. And no, I'm not making this up --
But as outlandish a total, unsubstantiated rumor as this is, on any other day in any other administration, such a story like that -- bizarre as just a rumor as it is -- would be banner headlines. Yesterday, like most days in the Trump administration, it didn't even count, come back to us when you have something more to to back it up.
Because what kind of a day was it? A day like all other days. Except...You Are There.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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