Last night, President Trump tweeted this teaser: “Something very big has just happened!” This morning the president held a 45-minute press conference, describing in lurid detail the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after a U.S. raid on his hiding place. “I got to watch it!” the president declared more than once in his remarks. “Absolutely perfect—as if you were watching a movie!” During the Q&A that followed his announcement, he said that among the other countries who had helped with this, “Russia treated us great.” He mused that ISIS had mastered the internet better than anybody except “maybe Donald Trump,” and lauded his Muslim ban. He expressed his desire to get his hands on the oil in the region and argued that this was bigger than the killing of Osama bin Laden, adding that he had predicted the attack on the World Trade Center—“I don’t get any credit, but that’s okay. I never do.”
If this event threatens to eclipse other recent developments, let us remind you of some things that also happened this week. On Tuesday, former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker took to the Fox News airways and declared that when it comes to Trump, “abuse of power is not a crime.”
On Wednesday, a Trump attorney was asked by Federal Judge Denny Chin about the limits of presidential immunity. The president’s lawyer asserted, with a straight face, that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, even if he commits the now-infamous act, as mentioned during Trump’s 2016 campaign, of standing on Fifth Avenue and shooting people.
In Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the president declared, “We’re building a wall on the border of New Mexico, and we’re building a wall in Colorado. We’re building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works that you can’t get over, you can’t get under.” (Does Trump think that New Mexico is actually a part of Mexico? Caught out, he later said he was joking, but let’s go the videotape—there is every indication that he was deadly serious.)
On Thursday, the White House urged all federal agencies to stop subscribing to the New York Times and the Washington Post, because, the president said, “They’re fake.” As one irreverent senior White House official put it, Trump doesn’t want to hear any news that doesn’t “make him feel beautiful and powerful.”
But can you blame the president and his band of apologists if they have their knickers in a collective twist? On Tuesday, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified before the House committee investigating impeachment. According to sources in the closed hearing, Taylor’s 15-page opening statement was so explicit, so shocking, that it elicited “sighs and gasps” inside the room. As CNN reported, “Taylor said he had been told by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that ‘everything’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wanted, including a White House meeting and military aid to the country, would be held up until he publicly declared investigations sought by Trump. Taylor’s statement undercut the White House’s defense that there had been no quid pro quo offered on the call.”
In order to distract the public from all this—look over here, shiny object!—Republicans cooked up a bizarre plot. On Wednesday, a bunch of them stormed the impeachment hearing room to demand transparency—even though a number of the GOP intruders are actually on the committee. They allowed TMZ to film this frat-boy stunt; they ordered pizzas. Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, who was set to testify that day, had to wait five hours to talk, until the pizza was consumed, and the invaders toddled out.
But testify she did. Which is the whole problem for the president—call your opponents human scum, as the president tweeted on Wednesday, but truth will out. For the record, Taylor is hardly a left-wing radical or a deep-state operative. Instead, this “human scum” is a West Point graduate who was deployed for six years as an infantry officer in Vietnam, worked at NATO and as a State Department diplomat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, and Ukraine, where she was first appointed ambassador by George W. Bush.
In other news, on Thursday, Attorney General/faithful servant William Barr ratcheted up his ludicrous campaign to uncover the nefarious origins of the Russia probe, or in Trump’s oft-repeated words, investigate the investigators. It is now a criminal probe.
On Friday, a federal judge ruled that the House Judiciary Committee can view secret grand jury evidence in the Mueller report. (Congress usually isn’t permitted to view such evidence, but in 1974, they were allowed access to material that related to the Nixon impeachment.)
Also on Friday, a lawsuit filed by an attorney for two close aides of the president who have been subpoenaed in the impeachment inquiry—one of them being notorious right-wing nightmare and Former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton—has asked the court to rule on whether his clients must testify, since the president has invoked something called “constitutional immunity” to prevent them from doing so. “Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which branch’s command should prevail,” the suit said. Though the Dems could ultimately win, this legal maneuver will at least delay some of the hearing.
Oh, and two slightly funny things: Mitt Romney, the most outspoken member of that rare breed, the Republican critic of the president, revealed that he is the garçon behind the mysterious Twitter account with the nom de plume Pierre Delecto. (Why exactly are you doing this, Mittens?) And aren’t you glad you never hired Rudy Giuliani as your personal attorney? So bumbling is America’s mayor that he mistakenly butt-dialed an NBC reporter—twice. On the fuzzy audio, you can hear him reviling the Bidens, discussing overseas meddling, and saying he needs a few hundred thou pronto.
Lastly, welcome to North Korea! On Saturday, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, gave reporters this Pyongyang-worthy statement. She described former chief of staff John Kelly, who has lately dared to criticize Trump, as “totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue