The Week on Planet Trump: Arpaio and Russia Create Another Storm for the "Winning" President

Monday: Trump’s Shut Down Gamble

“Democrats have made clear we will not support funding for President Trump’s misguided, ineffective border wall,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, told The Hill last week. “If President Trump and Republicans insist on wasting taxpayers’ money, they will be to blame for any government shutdown.”

For all his bravado, Trump knows he has not delivered the “winning” that he promised his base. That is why he held the Phoenix rally so quickly after Charlottesville. The latest polls show Trump losing swing votes in key states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan.

So, now we find out if Republican voters will abandon Congressional Republicans in order to stand by a man who sees himself as bigger than the GOP: Trump.

Let the fall games begin.

Juan Williams, The Hill

Tuesday: Pay Heed to Climate Science

Climate change cannot be definitively blamed for Hurricane Harvey, but it likely did make the storm more powerful. Global warming did not conjure the rains that flooded the nation's fourth-largest city, but it likely did make them more torrential. The spectacle of rescue boats plying the streets of a major metropolis is something we surely will see again. The question is how often.

The relationship between climate and weather is undeniable but never specific. Tropical cyclones do not batter Siberia's arctic coast and heavy snowfalls do not blanket the beaches of Barbados because the climates are different. But no one blizzard or hurricane can be attributed to climate change beyond the shadow of a doubt -- which opens anyone who raises the subject at a time like this to the accusation of "politicizing" a disaster.

The science explaining climate change is clear, however, no matter what deniers such as President Trump choose to believe. And it will be political decisions that determine how often we witness scenes of devastation such as those in Houston.

Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

Wednesday: Trump’s Terrifying Pardon

By pardoning someone with Arpaio's history of illegally targeting racial minorities, Trump endorsed the use of policing practices to deprive people of color of their rights under the Constitution. Furthermore, by pardoning Arpaio for the specific crime of defying a court order, Trump announced his intention to free his cronies from accountability for lawbreaking, raising the possibility that he will discourage his campaign associates from providing evidence in the Russia investigation with the promise of pardons if they are held in contempt of Congress or the courts.

That is precisely the opposite of how things are supposed to work in a country that adheres to the rule of law, in which the rules are supposed to apply to even those with the most power and connections. The U.S. system of checks and balances is designed to constrain the power of elected officials. But Trump appears prepared to use his pardon power to make an end run around the judiciary, gutting its ability to enforce its orders that the Constitution be obeyed. The pardon power is broad, but if Trump is going to use it to obstruct justice, Congress needs to stop him.

Bridgette Dunlap, Rolling Stone

Thursday: Hurricane of Conservative Hypocrisy

Disaster relief is premised on an old-fashioned “there but for the grace of God go I” solidarity. We are happy to see government give a hand to our fellow citizens facing sudden catastrophe today and assume that they will help us if we face comparable challenges tomorrow.

This is why it is entirely appropriate to call out the hypocrisy of Texas conservatives who voted against assistance for the victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey but are now asking for federal help on behalf of their folks. They broke this basic rule of solidarity in the name of an ideology that, when the chips are down, they don’t really believe in. Of course we should help all the areas devastated by Harvey. I’d just appreciate hearing our Texas conservative friends, beginning with Sen. Ted Cruz, admit they were wrong.

Call me a liberal (I won’t mind) but I do believe in using government’s taxing powers reasonably to direct help toward people who really need it, and in regulations to protect the environment and prevent catastrophe. But I also believe it is vital to stand firm when government officials violate constitutional rights, which is what Sheriff Arpaio was found to have done with Latinos in Arizona and why pardoning him is so dangerous.

We can certainly debate where government compassion becomes overreach. Unfortunately, we’re not anywhere close to such a measured and civilized dialogue.

E.J.Dionne, The Washington Post

Friday: At War With His Generals

During his campaign for the White House, Donald Trump took the highly-unusual step of blasting America’s top generals, arguing in one debate that they’d been “reduced to rubble” and later threatening to fire them if they didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. If elected, Trump promised to put top generals into key jobs — and then to give them the freedom to fight America’s wars without micromanagement from the White House.

True to his word, Trump has surrounded himself with a trio of well-respected current and retired generals: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine general best known for a successful tour through one of the bloodiest parts of Iraq; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general who served three tours in Iraq, oversaw Guantanamo Bay and was a top aide to two secretaries of defense; and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, a three-star general in the Army with a celebrated Iraq war record of his own.

The three men’s prominence, and their long history of distinguished service, has led manyinside and outside the White House to see them as the adults in the room who would be guiding Trump toward a calmer, more stable, more rational foreign policy than what he alluded to during his campaign.

The three men, in turn, have spent months traveling the globe to reassure allies that Trump hasn’t meant what he said when the president threatened a preemptive strike on North Korea (which terrified Japan and South Korea) or talked about pulling out of NATO and cozying up to Russia (which terrified much of Europe).

But seven months into his term, that conventional wisdom is looking increasingly shaky. Trump is openly at odds with many current and former military leaders in his administration on issues ranging from Afghanistan (the generals want more troops than he’s inclined to send) to his proposed ban on transgender troops (the Pentagon opposes the move).

Phillip Carter, Vox

Saturday:  Managing Trump

Like every other new sheriff in town Mr. Trump has hired to turn things around at the White House or in his presidential campaign, Mr. Kelly has gradually diminished in his appeal to his restless boss. What is different this time is that Mr. Trump, mired in self-destructive controversies and record-low approval ratings, needs Mr. Kelly more than Mr. Kelly needs him. Unlike many of the men and women eager to work for Mr. Trump over the years, the new chief of staff signed on reluctantly, more out of a sense of duty than a need for affirmation, personal enrichment or fame.

“It is inevitable that a guy who will not be contained and does not want to be handled or managed was going to rebel against the latest manager who wanted to control him,” said Roger Stone, the longtime Trump adviser, who believes Mr. Kelly represents a kind of management coup by “the triumvirate” of two powerful retired generals — Mr. Kelly and Jim Mattis, the defense secretary — and one general who is still in the Army, the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

Sunday:  How Long Can the GOP Ignore Russia For?

Most Republicans on Capitol Hill, presumably fearful of angering Trump’s right-wing base, have resisted Democrats’ calls to aggressively investigate the president. As if to prove the extent of GOP loyalty, House Republican Ron DeSantis, of Florida, unveiled a measure this week that would block Mueller’s funding after a six-month period, and would bar him from investigating any matters prior to June of 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign.

But Mueller continues to move forward aggressively, last month ordering a raid on the suburban Virginia home of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and this week issuing subpoenas to Manafort’s spokesman and to his former lawyer. Mueller is also reportedly investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. And Trump, far from thanking the GOP leaders who are giving him cover, has taken to openly attacking his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The Russia probe holds dangers for Democrats, too, who risk being accused of overreach if they push too hard for Trump’s ouster—just as House Republicans were when they impeached President Clinton in 1998. But when it comes to midterms, the fortunes of the party in power are invariably tied to those of the incumbent president. Congressional Republicans who fail to take the allegations against Trump seriously may soon find that they cannot escape the fallout.

Eliza Newland Carney, The American Prospect

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