Reprinted with permission from Creators.
Every day, another onslaught of crazy out of this administration.
Pick a day. Any day.
Wednesday, let’s say.
Before 7 a.m., President Trump was pretending he’d never heard of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who first started covering Trump in the late 1980s and came out with a book last year titled The Making of Donald Trump.
Trump made this claim — on Twitter, where else? — after Johnston joined Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night brandishing two pages of the president’s 2005 federal tax return.
Let us pause here and bow our heads — and that includes you atheists, because c’mon, you know you want this, too, so hedge that bet just this once:
Please, God, may we see a quick end to the necessity of introducing so many presidential quotes with these two words: Trump’s tweet.
Amen. And amen.
Back to Trump’s tweet: “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”
I have a number of questions for our president on this one, but I’ll keep it at one right now: How is this “fake news” — sorry, “FAKE NEWS!” — when the White House confirmed that Johnston and MSNBC had in their possession Trump’s partial tax returns for 2005?
Make that two. I have a second question.
Mr. President, if you’ve never heard of David Cay Johnston, how come you ring him up at his house — and talk to him, even?
As Johnston explained in an interview with Democracy Now just last year: “He’s (that’s you, Donald Trump) had my home number for years. He’s called me at home in the past.”
This is me looking at you, Mr. President, while drumming my fingers on my desk. Ignore the Wild Thing T-shirt. (Go, Tribe.)
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday. Before noon, the Justice Department announced that it was charging four people — including two Russian intelligence officers and a Russian hacker — for breaking in to 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014.
Say it with me:
Who’s distracted by Trump’s Twitter tantrums?
Not us, that’s who.
From acting Assistant Attorney General Mary B. McCord, in a statement: “The criminal conduct at issue, carried out and otherwise facilitated by officers from an FSB unit that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cybercrime matters, is beyond the pale.”
Translation: This is bad — really bad. Say it like C.J. Cregg and you’ll feel it.
Less than three hours later, another round of breaking news alerts flooded my inbox. How I miss the days when those used to be about mergers of companies I’d never heard of and sightings of celebrity baby bumps. I’ll never make fun of those again; I swear it.
The trigger for this round of alerts came from the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.
Nunes said he had seen no proof — not even Republican-style proof, which often starts as a shared quote from a Fox so-called News morning show and escalates into a hearing by noon — that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump’s phones in Trump Tower.
You may recall that on March 4, President Trump tweeted (Are you hearing me, God?) that Obama had wiretapped his phones.
No, Nunes said.
No, that didn’t happen.
“We don’t have any evidence that that took place,” he said. “In fact, I don’t believe — just in the last week of time, with people we’ve talked to — I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”
The New York Times story added: “If Mr. Trump’s Twitter claim is to be taken literally, Mr. Nunes said, ‘then clearly the president is wrong.'”
It’s that “taken literally” part that gets me every time, as if we’re supposed to cherry-pick when to take the president at his word.
Or, as press secretary Sean Spicer put it waaay back on Monday: “He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. … The president used the word ‘wiretap’ — in quotes — to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”
So when should we take President Trump at his word?
I vote never.