In the current battle between Congress and Trump on the question of oversight, Trump just blinked.
It was reported earlier today that former White House personnel security director, Carl Kline, would answer questions for a Congressional investigation of security clearance issues next week. The White House has blocked, or said it would block, the appearance of administration officials before Congress since the Mueller Report became public, setting the stage for a (another) Constitutional crisis.
One key witness is former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who features in the Mueller Report around a potential charge of Obstruction of Justice. The Washington Post reported, when the report came out that McGahn’s “ubiquity in the report’s footnotes laid bare his extensive cooperation in chronicling the president’s actions,” prompting Trump to dispute McGahn’s assertions and talk of blocking his appearance before Congress. In particular, the Mueller Report points to Trump’s dislike of note taking, as the Post reported:
“Some of the report’s most derogatory scenes were attributed not only to the recollections of McGahn and other witnesses but also to the contemporaneous notes kept by several senior administration officials — the kind of paper trail that Trump has long sought to avoid leaving.”
Another part of the paper trail that is escalating the fight with Congress is the request for Trump’s tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused to turn them over to Congress, as required by law, and the deadline has passed. This action (or inaction) could put Mnuchin in jail for 5 years.
On several fronts, Congress is now engaged in a paper chase with the administration, so join the pursuit with a Paper Chase cocktail. Via Kindred Cocktails, this is a very tasty riff on the Paper Trail cocktail I wrote about a year ago.
1.5 oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Aperol
.75 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina
Stir with ice, strain onto a large cube and garnish with a lemon twist
Despite Attorney General Barr’s best impression of Kevin Bacon in Animal House today, all is not well in Trumplandia®.
Barr cannot move everyone along past the Mueller report because its contents — even redacted as they are — will not be easily dismissed.
As details of the investigation filter out, one thing above all is clear: the report is certainly not the end of the Trump/Russia matter. If it signifies the end of anything, it is the end of the beginning in getting to the bottom of what happened in 2016.
There are more questions today than there were yesterday. A key question has always been how so many Republicans could skip their patriotic duty and protect Trump. Some clarity is coming to that (looking at you Sen. Grassley) and bringing new questions.
The revelations of the report will spill out for a couple of days. Then the analyses and interpretations and speculation of what has been redacted will take center stage for a while. Then the hearings — Mueller, Cohen, others — will consume countless hours of air time (before, during and after the hearings).
Since we are just getting started, it is time for an apéritif. I suggest La Première from Rebekah Peppler’s book Apéritif. La Première is, according to Peppler, like taking the Italian aperitivo Americano and dropping it in the middle of France. Bonal replaces the Campari and Italian (sweet) vermouth is replaced by French (blanc, in this case) vermouth. It is:
1.5 oz Bonal
1.5 oz blanc vermouth
2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters (I used Orinoco bitters)
In an ice filled lowball glass, combine the Bonal, vermouth and bitters. Top with a splash of soda water, stir gently, finish with the lemon peel
Nominating Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve Board is what you get when the president is the King of the Internet Trolls.
At this point, Trump has simply said he plans to nominate the certifiable nut-job former Republican presidential candidate Cain. Nevertheless, it has had the desired effect as a storm of distraction has blown up around the idea, displacing stories of leaks from the Mueller investigation team unhappy with Attorney General Barr’s summary of the report.
Is there anybody who still doubts that Trump is basically trolling America? Dominating news cycles is the only consistent policy objective he has. In addition to the Twitter bots, he can rely on the help of Congressional troll minions in the GOP — from the annoying likes of Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes to the truly dangerous impacts of Mitch McConnell — to wear us all down with a flood of nonsense.
Because a good portion of that nonsense is damaging to the US and democracy in general, it gets harder and harder to stay focused on what is important. This may be why MSNBC ratings went down in the immediate wake of Barr’s letter on the Mueller report. Many of us saw it for the BS it was and were too weary to put up with all the pointless talk around it, knowing we’d get to where we are now with confirmation of the trolling.
To deal with Trump’s trolling and frequent tweet storms, sometimes you have to come in out of his Kingdom of Rain. To help dry off, have a Storm King cocktail.
The Storm King is a Rob Roy variant from Damon Boelte (Grand Army, Brooklyn). A good break from the political is also to listen to Damon and @CreativeDrink Sother Teague on Wednesdays for The Speakeasy podcast. The Storm King is:
2 oz Blended Scotch (Black Bottle, which I got from listening to The Speakeasy)
.5 oz Nocino (Nux Alpina)
.25 oz Bénédictine
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, cherry garnish