Thursday, January 12, 2017
I'd like to draw your attention to the staging--there were props. (He has used props before.) The above file folders are supposed to represent all the paperwork involved in turning his business over to his sons. No journalist was able to look at them, and they are probably just filled with blank paper because this is obvious bullshit. The Chief of the Office of Federal Ethics has derided the scheme as "wholly inadequate". Trump thoughtfully provided his lawyer to take questions regarding the set-up, but she is not a constitutional lawyer and seems to be under the impression that "emoluments" is something more like gifts or profits and not just payments in general from foreign interests. Just owning his business is a problem--especially since you can't miss assets that have his name on a big sign overtop of them. And do we really expect him not to talk shop with the lads? Also, because this is Trumplandia, his lawyer's firm won Russia's law firm of the year. It just feels wrong not to point that out as a weird coincidence, even if its significance is sketchy.
You want transparency? Meh. He's not giving up tax returns, and if you want to know whether any of his campaign or transition staff have ties to Russia, you're either history's greatest monster or something from Nazi Germany. And in light of the media's coverage of the dossier regarding his potential compromised position by Russian intelligence, he's not really copacetic with the press right now, anyway--as in, well, had he been during his campaign?
Trump has demonized the press for just covering him and quoting him accurately. His campaign on occasion outright banned certain outlets from coverage. His rhetoric and the zeal of his supporters against journos is highly worrisome--a threat to freedom of speech and to the lives and welfare of people who are just trying to cover the news. In his presser, Trump struck out at Buzzfeed, who published the dossier, and CNN, for reporting about it. Chillingly, Buzzfeed was advised that they would "suffer the consequences" for reporting. Jim Acosta, of CNN, was threatened with ejection by Sean Spicer, who has opted to behave like a newly-hired nightclub bouncer trying to impress the boss.
So much of this would be viewed by folks like me as pretty hostile and not at all a great indicator of how well Team Trump is going to manage dealing with the press, handling ethics issues, or responding as if Trump was not actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of Putin Enterprises LTD. (His protestations of "NO LINKS!" did not, actually, distract from the previous "hell yes, links" coverage previously uncovered. ) Also, Trump being unhinged, he revealed something that sounded exactly creepy--he assumes that in hotels, there are cameras everywhere. He owns a mess of hotels! And there were reports he was bugging guests at Mar-a-Lago. (What is he trying to say--are his own properties some kind of Orwellian Total Information thing? Should one worry one's own stay might result in kompromat?)
No good communication happened. Trump had paid staff cheer and clap for him to create an atmosphere where he could seem to be "winning", even if a close review of what was actually happening didn't look positive at all. Maybe they were also there to audit who the "good ones were" amongst the paid ink-daubers? But the laughing of his paid audience, the empty files that make it look like he offered transparency, and the reflexive anti-media bias atmosphere he created made this circus satisfying for his fans. This is what they wanted. He reinforced their biases--he made himself appear the victim of a vicious news media that destroys people for just being conservative. (Poor Orange Snowflake!) He even ended the performance with the catchphrase of his reality tv show'' he implied that if his boys didn't manage his business well, he would be telling them "You're fired!" It was a show. A put-on.
Tragedy and farce are seldom so entwined.