Unless you spend full-time keeping up with the news, you might not know which one of the following half-dozen events did not occur in the United States of America this last week.
1) An American reporter, armed only with a smartphone, was arrested in a public building for repeatedly asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price whether domestic violence might be considered a pre-existing condition under Trumpcare. After getting no response, the journalist called, “You refuse to answer? Tell me ‘no comment.’ ” At which point he was handcuffed and charged with one misdemeanor count of willful disruption of governmental processes. He spent eight hours in jail before his news agency finally paid the $5,000 bond. The criminal complaint says he’s accused of “causing a disturbance by yelling questions.”
2) The day after President Donald Trump fired the man overseeing the FBI investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians in trying to influence the election in his favor, he laughed it up in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador at the center of the probe. Though American journalists were barred from covering their confab, we can see with our own hoaxin’ eyes that it was a regular yukfest, as documented by the Russian state news agency, TASS. White House officials expressed surprise that the Russian officials had posted the photos, along with a video of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov joking about James Comey’s ouster. “They tricked us,” an “angry” White House official told CNN.
3) Even as loyal Trump aides insisted that only a crazy person could seriously think the Russia investigation had anything to do with Comey’s firing, Trump suggested on television that yeah, that is why he did it. “(R)egardless of recommendation,” the president told NBC’s Lester Holt, “I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.” So yeah, crazy.
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4) The president also volunteered that he had on more than one occasion asked Comey point-blank whether he was under investigation. In response to Comey’s version of events, that the president had summoned him to dinner and then asked him to pledge his loyalty, Trump raised the possibility that he might have the same sort of White House tapes that brought down Richard Nixon: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Oh, and as if worried that someone might miss the connection, he had Henry Kissinger over for a chat and photo op.
5) In other tweeted Trump news, the president threatened to stop holding White House briefings and suggested that what his spokespeeps have to say is not always correct anyway: “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!”
6) Trump’s support among Republicans has been holding steady, though, and as long as that’s the case, it’s unlikely that congressional Republicans will seriously challenge him on any of the above. His approval rating among those in the GOP remains in the mid-80s, and an NBC-SurveyMonkey poll released on Thursday showed that three-quarters of Republicans approved of Comey’s firing. During the campaign, Trump bragged that he could shoot somebody on Madison Avenue and lose no support. And in an interview with the Economist, Trump claimed to have just coined the phrase, “getting away with murder.”
(Yes, it’s No. 6 that’s only partly true; the expression the president actually claimed to have only recently invented is “prime the pump,” vis-a-vis the economy. And yes, we’ve come a long way since Al Gore lost standing over misleading reports that he’d claimed to have invented the internet.)