As of this writing, a President accused of rape is pushing hard for the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee accused of rape. Just hours ago, another accuser stepped forward. Presumably Kavanaugh this Sunday night is sitting in the dark, fingers clenched around a tumbler of Jameson’s, trying not to hear the sobbing behind his locked bedroom door. And Trump is throwing furniture at the walls.
But that’s not the point, but background. The accused-rapist President whose every waking moment is consumed by antipathy for Fake News—especially the failing New York Times—is apparently on the verge of firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over a report in the very same failing New York Times to the effect that in the spring of 2017, Rosenstein was so panicked by Trump’s firing of James Comey that he offered to wear a wire in conversations with the President so as to gather evidence for a bid to invoke the 25th Amendment and install Pence as Acting President.
Several other outlets, including the Washington Post, have already reported that people who were actually in the room—as opposed to the NYT sources who were briefed by people in the room—thought that Rosenstein’s remarks were sarcasm. Which is actually pretty obvious.
The tinfoil-hatted Q-Anon Deep State conspiracy fuckwits in the Trump camp believe that a brand new Deputy AG, on the job a few weeks, a Republican and Trump appointee by the way, would take it on himself to start building a case against a new President whose party controlled both houses of the legislature. To invoke a Constitutional mechanism never before employed and understood poorly, if at all. But not just the true believers at the trailer park—the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times.
What makes the whole story so laughable is the fact that Rod Rosenstein is not only a good lawyer, but a good lawyer with thirty years at Justice under his belt. Thus he has presumably read the Constitution. Specifically the 25th Amendment.
The Amendment was adopted in 1967—surprisingly, in response to the Kennedy assassination. In its aftermath many realized that if Oswald hadn’t been such a good shot Kennedy could have lived on as a vegetable—and President, because hitherto the Constitution had had no mechanism for the removal of an impaired chief executive. And there were recent precedents supporting that concern—Wilson had spent his last years in office completely debilitated by stroke, leaving the country to be run by his wife and a few chums, without Congressional knowledge or consent. Thus the 25th provides that the Vice-President and a majority of the cabinet can advise both houses in writing that the President is out of it, and the Veep assumes his duties as Acting President.
Whew, right? Not so fast. The Amendment also provides a mechanism that allows the President to contest that certification. And if two thirds of both houses don’t agree he’s lost his fastball, he’s back in office. And I must say, woe unto those who signed off on the letter to Congress.
What’s immediately apparent from that brief summary is that the 25th Amendment bar is actually higher than impeachment—only a one-vote majority of the House needed for the latter, but two-thirds for the former. In other words, any idiot could see that it was utterly impossible given the GOP edge in the House, unlessTrump was actually walking around the West Wing naked saying “I am Jesus, drink my blood.” And maybe not even then.
The purpose of that long disquisition was this: No serious person can ever have imagined that Trump was vulnerable to removal under the 25th Amendment. Including Rod Rosenstein.
Yet this is the second piece the Times has run claiming exactly that.
The author of Anonymous was a “senior official;” the sources for the Rosenstein slam were “persons briefed.” If you accept the proposition that deployment of the25th Amendment is the happy-talk fantasy of me and mine on the left, then it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that any story incorporating the assertion that it is being taken seriously in government is palpable fantasy. So both Times stories are bullshit.
So who benefits from the leaks on which the editorial and the story are based?
Well, one theory would be Trump. Though he obviously lacks the maturity to conceive and endure a stratagem in which he briefly looked bad, whatever the benefit, persons acting in his interest could. The Anonymous Op-Ed would plant the seed that Deep State conspirators within the administration were considering the 25th; the Rosenstein bombshell would confirm it, and more importantly, give the President cover to rid himself of this troublesome priest.
Too obvious? Well, maybe the Democrats, then! Six weeks to go before the midterms, the Kavanaugh nomination imploding, Manafort and Cohen singing, Stormy talking about his midget mushroom of a penis—what better time to goad the Fat Man into doing something truly crazy?
Both theories fail. Who truly benefits from both stories is Russia. Our attention daily consumed by the Shriner clown-car pileup of the Trump Administration, our sensibilities hardened by his casual crudities and constant whorehopping, we forget—as we are intended to—that we are under attack my a foreign power. The objective of the continuing Russian cyberwar campaign was not to install a puppet in the White House—that was a sundae cherry they could not have hoped for in their wildest dreams—but rather to sow discord and discredit the institutions of a democracy.
The “25th Amendment” narrative twice reported by the Times—despite its facial absurdity— merely lends credence to deep state conspiracy theories so beloved by hillbillies with internet access. In other words it serves only to energize the base and deepen the cleavage between it and consensus reality. It may benefit Trump; it may benefit the Democrats; it certainly benefits Russia.
The Russian disinformation war against America and the West didn’t end with the 2016 election. It continues to this moment. The Times may have been a tool more powerful than Facebook.