Sunday, July 30, 2017

Two Big Questions About Trump

Question One: Is Trump REALLY That Stupid?

What are we to make of Donald Trump's insistence on nuking the filibuster? In the past two days he has tweeted about getting rid of it five times as the means by which Republicans could pass a health care bill. But this isn't the case--in none of these events was the GOP bill filibustered--they all failed because they could not reach a 50-vote (+Pence) majority to pass at all.

So why is he harping on this?

Some Possibilities

  1. He Doesn't Know - The worst case scenario is that Trump just doesn't understand the process and thinks that the filibuster is being used. This is what his tweets sound like. But could he really be that uninformed? Does anyone know what they're saying about this on Fox & Friends?
  2. He Means The Repubs Should Produce A 51 Vote Bill That Doesn't Require Reconciliation - The best case scenario is that Trump thinks ('knows') there is a solution that everyone in the GOP would sign on to if the bill wasn't weighted down by reconciliation. In this scenario McConnell nukes the filibuster and then passes a non-Recon bill with 51 votes. Okay--but no such bill exists that we know of.
  3. He Wants His Base To Blame The Democrats - In this scenario he is using his Twitter bullhorn to try to make his base believe that the Obamacare reform is being filibustered by the Democrats so they blame them. The problem is that he's hitting McConnell as much as the Democrats and ordering McConnell to do something that, as it will not help, he isn't going to. That's going to backfire and direct the anger of the base at McConnell . . . Which brings us to--
  4. He Wants To Pressure McConnell - As Trump keeps pressuring McConnell, it could be that Trump is sort of threatening him with base-retaliation if he doesn't pass this thing. By ordering McConnell to do something he won't (and won't help if he did it) he is trying to force McConnell to do something--anything that might work. The problem here is that McConnell already did that. It failed dramatically by a John McCain.

What The Omnivore Thinks

The Omnivore thinks that it's a combination of 1 and 4. Trump, we hope, understands the actual process of what happens--but does not understand all the Senate rules (and can't be taught). As such, he doesn't realize that the Vote-A-Rama that we went through Thursday and Friday was an attempt to degrade the process as much as possible to pass a bill no one wanted passed in order to either (a) get it on Trump's desk for a victory signing or (b) show they did everything they could in an attempt to placate Trump.

As Trump doesn't realize that this was basically McConnell selling himself (and all the Senators who voted YES) out for Trump's ego, Trump's retaliation is hideously ungrateful. It's also, we know,what to expect from Trump: He will degrade you. He will betray you.

Question 2 - The Sessions Shuffle

The second question is whether the firing of Priebus was designed to create a space to swap Sessions in to DHS and then someone (Rick Perry) in to Attorney General--in order to fire Mueller. This maneuver, in the broad strokes, works like this:

  1. Trump cannot fire Mueller (only the AG can) and Rosenstein won't--so he needs a new AG.
  2. If he fires Sessions then he has to appoint a new AG and congress probably won't do that for him. It would take a long time, anyway.
  3. BUT, there is an act that potentially allows Trump to fill the space if it otherwise "opens up" (for example if the current AG cannot fulfill his duties) and it can be filled with a person from elsewhere in the administration.
  4. While this is possibly legally iffy (The Omnivore is no lawyer--but understands it's iffy), if he uses someone already confirmed by the Senate then it removes a potential downside.
  5. Someone (and the @TeaPain poster on Twitter came up with Rick Perry--a good choice) who was both confirmed and sycophantic enough to fire Muller would need to be swapped in--okay--but also--
  6. Conservatives and the Senate would need to NOT feel Sessions got fed to the woodchipper or else Trump would face a revolt. Making Sessions head of DHS still lets him do his immigration magic so that might mollify people.
This is the Sessions Shuffle. The question is: Is Trump going to do it--and could he get away with it?

What The Omnivore Thinks

The Omnivore isn't sure--but since there is zero point in writing a blog post and not guessing, The Omnivore is going to lay out a scenario. This isn't "what The Omnivore Thinks Happened" exactly--but it's the argument he's making here--for your pleasure.

  1. Trump Did NOT Collude - The Omnivore will postulate that while the Russians clearly went to bat for him, the contact was limited to that one meeting. It's enough to make trouble for him and Don Jr.--but not enough to sink the administration. BUT . . . 
  2. Trump Has Bad Stuff In His Earlier Financials - There's a reason Trump hasn't shown his tax returns and said that Mueller looking outside of Russia would be a red line. So there is one. He doesn't want his shady dealing coming out. SO . . . 
  3. Trump Has To Shut This Whole Thing Down - Trump can't have an over-empowered Mueller with his sniper-team of forensic accountants going through his finances so he's got to stop Mueller. The first answer is YES. The insulting Sessions was an attempt to get him to quit (which would also trigger the swap condition). That having failed, he's now going to do a DHS swap. When this lands, the Senate has to figure out if he gets away with it AND . . .
  4. He Does Not - The problem with the Senate shrugging on this is that while they might like to, (a) there's not enough of them that just-plain-won't-care, (b) this looks SO BAD that everyone concludes there was Russian Collusion anyway--and the only way to shout them down is to say "here's all the classified evidence--no collusion--but lots of dirty dealing 5-10 years ago." In any event, right now the Senators (and House members) can comfortably back the president saying "Let Mueller do his job." Once Mueller is gone, though, the ball is uncomfortably in their court. THIS . . .
  5. Marks The Beginning Of The End - Trump either gets impeached or there's just open warfare with congress and everyone loses.

Now, let's be clear: This chain of events would be one of the stupidest sets of decisions ever made by a  powerful human. However, if we presume there was no collusion then the firing of Comey was already catastrophically stupid. If we assume that Trump's finances are fine then he should not touch Mueller--so why is it reported he's thinking about it? That already stupidly hurts him for no gain.

So that's your scenario--tell The Omnivore why he is wrong.


  1. Let's consider for a moment the theory that Trump did collude with Russia, personally and explicitly. If he did it and knows he did it, don't all of his actions make a lot more sense?

    1. Oh, sure--take the EASY way out.
      -- The Omnivore