His “sleepy news dump” was a sleazy ploy. Outrageous, but not surprising.
The 45th president was plenty busy at the end of the day before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Among other things that evening, he told the Pentagon to ban transgender people from enlisting and awarded a pardon to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt of court.
It’s not unheard of for elected officials to do a “sleepy news dump” i.e., to make potentially unpopular moves on a Friday evening when many people aren’t paying attention. But as The Washington Post put it, this Trump dump was “a flagrant attempt to hide a series of politically fraught (but base-pleasing) moves under the cover of an August Friday night hurricane.”
Here’s how a Democratic state representative from Arizona responded to this craven act:
“President Trump is a coward,” Rep. Ruben Gallego told The Washington Post. “He waited until a Friday evening, as a hurricane hits, to pardon a racist ex-sheriff. Trump should at least have the decency to explain to the American public why he is undermining our justice system.”
(Don’t hold your breath, Rep. Gallego.)
Executive vs. judicial
Maybe Trump thought reporters really would be too busy covering the hurricane to focus on his Friday-night antics. Or that in the event that newsgatherers did pay attention, he’d still have plausible deniability with his core followers:
“Hey, folks, I was worried about the Texans in harm’s way because of the hurricane. But did the lying media care about those good people? Of course not! They were too focused on attacking me with their fake-news reporting to do their job where the REAL news was!”
Trump has never had much respect for the law. Remember when he complained that an American-born judge with Mexican heritage couldn’t be fair in his Trump University case, or when he threatened to break up the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals?
(It’s all in our book, “101 Indisputable Facts Proving Donald Trump Is An Idiot.” You can read it here on the site for free, but we hope you’ll also buy a copy on Amazon to share with a friend, or to give to your annoying conspiracy-theorist uncle. It’ll give you lots to talk about over Thanksgiving dinner!)
So yes, we’re not surprised that he’s thumbing his nose at the judicial system by pardoning a man who willfully disobeyed a court order to stop violating the constitutional rights of Arizona residents. What’s particularly sad about this pardon is that it’s for a man who shows zero remorse or regret for arresting and detaining people based on nothing more than the color of their skin.
Once again, it’s Trump doing whatever he pleases, without thought to rule of law.
The Discriminator in Chief
As for the ban on transgender military enlistment, this seems to be another appeal to his base – but with a convenient loophole.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump’s directive stipulates that Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis will be the one to decide about the estimated 2,450 transgender men and women already serving in the U.S. military. He also says that his policy will remain in effect unless the Secretary advises him “at any time” that it’s necessary to change it.
Boy, does that give 45 some convenient wiggle room. Suppose the Secretary of Defense ultimately decides to implement President Barack Obama’s July 2016 order allowing transgender individuals to serve. Trump would be able to tell his fans that it’s not his fault that the Secretary went over his head.
Of course, he probably hoped that all this would blow over, so to speak, due to Hurricane Harvey running interference on Friday night. Hey, the sleepy news dump used to work for other presidents! But it’s no longer that simple, as GOP strategist Alex Conant pointed out on Twitter.
“Controversies now grow over the course of days, as outrage builds on social media & people are forced to take positions,” he tweeted.
“If you’re going to do something unpopular, you’re now often better off selling it & owning it.”
Fat chance. Trump will never admit he could be wrong. He just doubles down on the delusion that he’s the smartest guy in the room.
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