What a horrifying week of dog-whistles and mass murder. In New Zealand, a white nationalist killed 50 Muslims at prayer in two mosques, and injured 50 more. Asked about this horrific tragedy, and whether he thought racist ideology is an increasing threat around the world, President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge the burgeoning peril, declaring, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. . .” He also tweeted, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. …” (Is it just us, or is best wishes an odd sentiment under these circumstances?)
On Monday, White House press Sarah Sanders finally condescended to meet with reporters, her first press conference in 42 days. When CNN’s Jim Acosta brought up Trump’s incendiary rhetoric—“Whether it’s talking about Democrats, the media, immigrants. . . should we just plan on hearing the president use the same kind of language that we heard in 2016, and all through the first couple years of this administration?”—Sanders responded by taking a page from the Roy Cohn playbook. (The notorious right-wing attorney and Trump mentor always advised punching back hard when confronted with an ugly truth.) Turning up the volume and deliberating ignoring the facts—and Acosta’s question—she offered, “I think that the real shame in all of this is that Democrats are perfectly capable of coming together and agreeing on the fact that they are comfortable ripping babies straight from a mother’s womb, or killing a baby after birth, but they have a hard time condemning the type of comments from congresswoman Omar.”
As if the above isn’t chilling enough, in an interview published Wednesday, the president told Breitbart News: “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump—I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” On Friday, he provided a link to this sentiment on Real Donald Trump, but he hastily removed these musings on “tough people” after the New Zealand attack.
Still, even the bleakest dungeons can sometimes let in a wan beam of light: On Wednesday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to end U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition’s war in Yemen. On Thursday, 12 Republicans in the Senate joined Democrats, for the first time, to overturn Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. (The president quickly vetoed this legislation, and at this point there are not enough votes to overrule him.) Also on Thursday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bi-partisan bill urging that the Mueller report, when it is finally released, be shared with the public. Alas, this legislation will not even reach the Senate—Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blocked that body from taking a vote.
In other news: Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign manager, won’t be getting out of jail any time soon. This week he was sentenced to additional time in the federal pen, bringing his total term to over seven years. Even if Trump pardons him, the State of New York is licking its lips to indict this felon for mortgage fraud and other crimes. (And may we remind you that the president has no power to pardon these scoundrels if they are convicted on state charges.)
And lastly: you are not the only one who is sick of Jared and Ivanka. A new book, “Kushner Inc.,” by Vicky Ward, argues that the president himself wanted to send this dynamic duo back to Manhattan. The New York Times reports that Trump went to former chief of staff John Kelly and told him, “Get rid of my kids; get them back to New York.” But as fate would have it, Kelly instead has left the room, and the two grifter-relatives remain ensconced in their West Wing hideaway. At least for now.