As someone who spends every day researching and writing about history, I often think about how our era will be judged by future historians. And I can’t help but think that this particular week will be seen by people of the future as a major turning point in 2017. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the past seven days will get an entire wing dedicated to it in the future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library.
In the era of Trump, a week can feel like an eternity. So let’s take a quick look at everything that happened since Monday, May 8th.
Last week started out relatively quiet for the Trump regime on Monday, with the White House purging all of the Trump campaign’s old press releases. The purge came on the heels of reporters asking questions about the rationale for the Muslim travel ban, something that Trump campaigned on with the unambiguous announcements from December 7, 2015 like:
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.
Purging your old press releases, many of which are currently being cited in the courts that have struck down your executive orders, would have been seen shady as hell during normal times. But with Trump in the White House, it barely made the news.
By Tuesday, shit hit the fan, after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The Trump regime was reportedly caught off guard by the fact that people were outraged by the firing, a testament to the fact that many of the people surrounding Trump are just as clueless as the man himself.
Comey was leading the investigation into possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign—like former campaign advisor Carter Page and now-disgraced national security advisor Michael Flynn, among a host of others—and the Russian government.
“The need for a special prosecutor is now crystal clear,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said on Tuesday night. “President Trump has catastrophically compromised the FBI’s investigation of his own White House’s ties to Russia. Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken. The only way to restore faith in a non-political, non-partisan FBI is to appoint an independent special prosecutor.”
By the end of the night, Sean Spicer was hiding “among the bushes” in an attempt to avoid reporters who wanted to know why Comey was fired. Spicer assured reporters that Comey was fired on the advice of the new Deputy Attorney General of the Justice Department Rod Rosenstein, and that Trump was simply following the advice of those below him.
Trump’s surrogates claimed that the entire reason Comey was fired was because of the way that Comey conducted himself during the 2016 election campaign and his mistreatment of Hillary Clinton—an absurd lie.
Despite the fact that the White House’s assurances made no sense, Trump’s lackeys continued to insist that Trump only fired James Comey “based on the clear recommendations” of Rod Rosenstein. White House Press Secretary was absent from his usual position in the White House briefing room due to Naval Reserve duties, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (daughter of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee) took Spicer’s place.
Huckabee Sanders insisted during Wednesday’s press briefing that many people inside of the FBI were happy that Comey was gone and that Trump was simply taking the advice of Rosenstein. Huckabee Sanders stated over and over that Rosenstein had been confirmed by a bipartisan group of senators, 94 to 6. The implication was that there was absolutely nothing partisan or suspicious about the firing and that Democrats should back off.
Amazingly, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in the White House on Wednesday. American press were barred from even taking customary pre-meeting photos, but Russian media were allowed inside the Oval Office.
The Trump regime says they were duped by the Russians about the photographer who was permitted into the Oval Office, a move that was seen by former members of the intelligence community as a major threat to national security.
“We were not informed by the Russians that their official photographer was dual-hatted and would be releasing the photographs on the state news agency,” a Trump regime official told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
The cherry on top of this shit sundae was Thursday’s interview that President Trump gave to Lester Holt of NBC News. It’s frankly just astounding and needs to be watched in full.
Trump said that he had made up his mind to fire Comey long before Rosenstein’s recommendation, and that no matter what Rosenstein suggested, Trump was going to fire the FBI Director anyway.
President Trump even went further and said that he was thinking about the FBI’s investigation into his campaign when he decided to fire Comey.
“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’” Trump admitted to Lester Holt.
It was a stunning admission that clearly points to obstruction of justice. And that doesn’t even include the many bizarre lies that Trump told about asking Comey whether he was under investigation and supposedly being told on three separate occasions that he was not. People close to Comey say this simply isn’t true.
By Friday morning Trump was sending out barely veiled threats against former FBI Director Comey, implying that there might be “tapes” of their conversations.
The inconsistent messages between what Trump’s lackeys were saying between Tuesday and Thursday about Comey’s firing were impossible to reconcile. Trump surrogates who had previously said that the decision was completely impartial and not related to the Russia investigation were now spinning, attempting to somehow allow Trump’s admission and their previous denials make sense. Very few people were buying it.
Also on Friday, Trumps lawyers released a letter pinkie-swearing that Trump had no “income of any type from Russian sources” albeit “with few exceptions.” The phrase “with few exceptions” became and instant meme, and people pointed out that the letter didn’t mean anything.
Firstly, the press wasn’t allowed to look at any of the documents that the lawyers were citing as evidence that Trump has no income from Russian sources. And most importantly, Trump has still refused to release his tax returns.
Nothing the Trump regime said could distract from the massive red flags that had emerged from Trump’s own mouth and Twitter account.
What was described as a “parade” of potential candidates for the vacant FBI Director position streamed into the Department of Justice on Saturday. At least eight people were reportedly interviewed for the position.
“These are outstanding people that are very well known, highest level,” President Trump told a group of reporters on Air Force One on Saturday. “So we can make a fast decision.”
Saturday Night Live did its usual parodies of the week’s insanity, with one particular segment that resonated a little too much. In a parody of the Lester Holt interview with Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin (playing Trump) makes a damning statement that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.
“Wait, so did I get him?” SNL comedian Michael Che, playing Holt, asks. “Is this all over? No I didn’t? Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore.”
Political reality in the year 2017, it seems, is beyond parody.
On Sunday Trump played golf at his private golf club in Washington, D.C.—the Trump National Golf Club. It was the 21st time he’d played golf since being sworn in as President on January 20, 2017.
The Sunday morning political TV talk shows were completely absent of any official White House representatives, but at least one Republican grew half a backbone to say that if Donald Trump is taping conversations inside the Oval Office, he should hand them over.
“You can’t be cute about tapes. If there are any tapes of this conversation, they need to be turned over,” Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
By Monday, the story of James Comey’s firing wasn’t going away, and during the evening there was an even more explosive revelation: Donald Trump had revealed classified information to Russian officials during his meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
The Washington Post first broke the story:
President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.
The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.
White House officials like national security advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued carefully worded statements that President Trump hadn’t revealed sources and methods.
“There’s nothing that the president takes more seriously than the security of the American people. The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false. The president and the foreign minister [Sergey Lavrov] reviewed a range of common threats to our two counties, including threats to civil aviation,” McMaster told reporters.
“At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known,” McMaster said.
But that wasn’t what the Washington Post story had reported. The story, confirmed, by multiple unnamed witnesses inside the White House, was that Trump had revealed high level classified info, not that he had revealed sources and methods.
By later that night, other major news sources like CNN, Reuters, and Buzzfeed, had confirmed the information that Trump had leaked incredibly sensitive information—information that the US doesn’t even share with its allies—to the Russians.
In these strange times it almost feels necessary just to run down the list of recent events as though they were historical. Each day’s news seems legitimately surreal and almost necessary to protect as something that we have to remember. The scandals are happening too quickly to even keep up.
What will happen today, Tuesday, May 16th? I have no idea, but it’s already getting weird. President Trump has already started tweeting this morning, defending his disclosure of classified information to Russian officials.
It seems it can only get worse from here.