Can you imagine what it’s like to be Donald Trump? It’s your second Christmas as president of the United States, and instead of spending it down at your beloved Mar-a-Lago in warm, sunny Palm Beach with hand-picked, dues-paying rich “friends,” you’re stuck in the White House in cold, rainy Washington D.C. surrounded by the hostile forces of the media, the deep state, and Robert Mueller’s spelunkers, who have been roping themselves down every horrid rabbit hole you’ve ever dug.
Not only that, but your “advisers” made you take an endless flight to visit the troops in Iraq to boost your PR over the holidays, which of course turned into a gigantic bust. Even forcing a government shut-down and putting a quarter of the deep state on the dole over Christmas didn’t do you any good. The market continued its steep downhill ride, and polls put the blame for the shut-down on you, not Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.
It’s so unfair! Nobody does what you tell them to do! You exchanged your second-to-the-last general for an ex-congressman who looks like he just swallowed a whole grapefruit, and still you get no respect! Half your goddamned staff has either resigned in disgrace, resigned in disgust, been fired, or got lost on the way to work and never seen again, and nothing happens! Oh, my goodness, you’re even reduced to tweeting “poor me!”
Poor him indeed, because if he thinks 2018 was a nightmare, just wait until he sees what 2019 has in store for him.
Number one is Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House. Committee chairmen all over Capitol Hill are rubbing their hands together and heating up their printers, getting ready to spit out subpoenas and summon witnesses. What are they going to be investigating? Oh, I don’t know . . . let’s just take a wild guess and say . . . Trump’s tax returns?
Bingo! Representative Richard E. Neal, who will chair the all-powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has said that he will file a demand to the Treasury Department to release Trump’s tax returns. Neal told the Washington post that “he could obtain the returns using a 1924 law that gives heads of the congressional tax-writing committees the right to request any American’s tax returns. The panel could then make them public with a simple majority vote.”
Over at the House Intelligence Committee, with White House Waterboy Devin Nunes out and MSNBC Rockstar Adam Schiff in, Democrats aren’t going to sit idly by waiting for Robert Mueller to issue is big report on his Russia investigation. Gone are the days when Nunes scampered around the White House looking under dusty desks for evidence of “unmasking,” whatever the hell that was. Schiff plans on issuing subpoenas to witnesses he believes may have lied to the committee when Republicans were yawning their way through their “investigation,” and he wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed that he plans on looking into “allegations the Russians may possess financial leverage over the president, including perhaps the laundering of Russian money through his businesses.”
If that’s not enough to wake Trump up tweeting at dawn, how does lifting the skirts of the Trump inaugural committee’s fundraising and expenditures sound to you? The House Oversight Committee, soon to be chaired by Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, took an Ambien while Razor-cut Trey Gowdy was chairman over the past two years, passing up chances to look into why Trump yanked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, or the circumstance surrounding his firing of FBI director James Comey. But the Wall Street Journal reported recently that prosecutors are looking into how Trump managed to raise a record $107 million for his inauguration, and how that money was spent. And the FBI is reportedly looking into the some of the Russian oligarchs who appeared at inaugural events.
Some of that inaugural cash was spent . . . you guessed it . . . at the Trump International Hotel, so Representative Robert Garamendi might warm up his subpoena-printer over at the House Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over government buildings, and have a look at why hotel ballrooms were rented out to the inaugural committee at exorbitant prices (The Trump International rents the old U.S. Post Office Building from the federal government). And while at least two lawsuits wend their way through the courts alleging that Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, Garamendi’s committee might have a look at how many foreign governments have put up their diplomats at the hotel, and how much they paid into Trump’s private business coffers in the bargain.
Meanwhile, the 17 investigations — yes, you heard that right! 17! — by various prosecutors in Washington D.C., Virginia, New York and elsewhere are proceeding apace. Wired magazine has compiled a handy guide for the president, if he’s looking for a random subject to tweet about. Talk about reasons to be up at night with your thumbs flying! Here are a few of the investigations, chosen here at random, that should be enough to send Trump into a daily tweetstorm starting this week when everyone comes back to work.
Trump campaign and transition contacts with Russians: At least 14 individuals associated with Trump’s campaign and transition had personal contacts with Russians, according to the Washington Post. And if that’s not enough for you, The Moscow Project has produced a list of 97 specific contacts between Trump associates and Russians. Starting with Michael Cohen’s efforts on Trump’s behalf in 2015 to jumpstart the Trump Tower Moscow project and running straight through Erik Prince’s meeting with Russian banker and Putin ally Kirill Dmitriev in the Seychelles Islands in January of 2017, the list is a stunning recitation of an unprecedented phenomenon in American politics: agents of a Republican candidate for president of the United States apparently had more contacts with Russians during a presidential campaign than they did with county chairmen of the Republican Party.
I mean, let’s reach back into the old memory bank and pull out a few gems. Remember George Papadopoulos? He was the Trump campaign “foreign policy adviser” who was running around Rome and London meeting with such unlikely characters as “Professor” Joseph Mifsud, who he happened to run into in a coffee shop in Rome, and a “female Russian national” introduced to him as a cousin of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Papadopoulos had not less than 23 separate contacts with his Russian pals during the course of the campaign.
But even if Papadopoulos did nothing more than get drunk with Australian ambassadors at bars in London, there was so much action back in the USA it was head-spinning. Paul Manafort was on the phone and meeting in person with Konstantin Kilimnik. His pal Rick Gates was meeting with “an unnamed official” the FBI says had ties to Russian intelligence. Donald Trump Jr. was in contact with WikiLeaks and meeting with Russians at Trump Tower, along with Jared Kushner. Sessions was meeting here and there with Kislyak. Roger Stone was in contact via Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, now identified as a Russian intelligence agent who has been indicted by Mueller. Alleged Russian intelligence agent Maria Butina was having cocktails with Trump campaign national security aide J.D. Gordon. Kushner was meeting in Trump Tower with Kislyak and Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, a close ally of Putin. And just about this time in 2016, Trump national security aide Michael Flynn was texting and calling Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak not once, not twice, not three times, but seven times over a two-day period.
So how about them apples, tweeter-in-chief? You think Schiff and Cummings and Garamendi and Mueller and prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, in the Southern District of New York, and the New York Attorney General’s office will have enough to do in 2019?
I don’t know exactly how, or exactly when, but this year is the beginning of the end. By this time next year, MAGA is going to stand for Make America Gleeful Again.