Even by Donald Trump’s standards, this past week has been certifiably insane.
It began on Monday with the FBI raid of the home and office of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen (the other one). We learned that Cohen kept secret recordings of his phone calls, is taking the Fifth Amendment in the defamation lawsuit with Stormy Daniels, and is being investigated for wire fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
President Trump responded to this turn of events by delivering an unhinged rant from the White House Cabinet Room while surrounded by the nation’s top military leadership; musing about firing Robert Mueller; and then seriously considering canning Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which would spark a constitutional crisis. Meanwhile, the head of the House Intelligence Committee thinks Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be impeached.
Meanwhile, the current House speaker, Paul Ryan, announced that he won’t seek reelection, which provides compelling evidence that Republicans are fully aware that they are likely to lose the House in November.
While all this mayhem was going on, the saga of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continued. It was reported this week that Pruitt, aside from all his other glaring ethical issues, asked his staff to find reasons for him to travel after deciding on particular destinations he wanted to visit; regularly stayed at expensive hotels rather than those with better security standards, even though the reason he has claimed that he frequently traveled first class was for security; and silenced or removed EPA officials who questioned his profligate spending. Also, Pruitt is apparently the world’s worst houseguest.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, the state’s Republican governor was accused of sexual assault but refused to step down. Back in Washington, a Trump judicial nominee couldn’t tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that Brown v. Board of Education, which ended school segregation, was decided correctly. Also, Mike Pompeo, the president’s nominee to be secretary of state, declined to say whether he thinks gay sex is a perversion — a position he’s previously taken. He’s likely to be confirmed.
In addition, the president told senators that he’s changed his mind on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he spent much of the 2016 campaign railing against and pulled out of a few days after becoming president. He also issued an executive order reviewing the finances of the US Postal Service, which is really a veiled effort to go after Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which has upset Trump because of its coverage of his presidency. Finally, and for no obvious reason other than the likelihood he wants to send a signal to other witnesses in the Russia investigation, Trump reportedly plans to pardon former Dick Cheney aide, Scooter Libby, who was convicted of perjury and leaking classified information.
Oh, and did I mention that the president may launch a military attack against Syria for its use of chemical weapons?
As if that isn’t enough, former FBI Director Jim Comey is out with a new book that calls the president ethically challenged and a threat to democracy, and revives discussion about the infamous “pee tape” from the Steele Dossier. In response to all that, Trump called Comey “an untruthful slimeball.”
Keep in mind: all this happened . . . just . . . this . . . week. Forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but: None of this is normal. America is on the cusp of launching strikes in Syria, we could be nearing a constitutional crisis over the Mueller investigation, the lawlessness and political corruption of the Trump administration continues unabated, and the president of the United States is taking to social media to call political rivals juvenile names.
On a more positive note, at least it’s Friday.Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.