Only January and Trump’s already “Knee Deep in the Big Muddy”
The Wolff book sheds light on why so many Trump aides, after being ushered into the White House by an unstable president, soon leave by the same door through which they first enter the West Wing. | Evan Vucci/AP

Fresh reports out have it that President Trump forced the White House Counsel last March into an attempt to reverse Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from all things Russia in the investigations of the president.

MSNBC, followed by other cable networks, reported last night and this morning that Trump said he “expected his attorney general to protect” him the way he claimed then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had protected President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s and the way former Attorney General Eric Holder had allegedly protected President Obama.

Those remarks by the president reflect a lack of understanding, of course, that under the law the White House Counsel is there to protect the institution of the presidency, not the particular person that may hold the office. The counsel is not there to be the president’s personal lawyer.

Another bomb exploding this week is the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has also been looking carefully at lies Trump dictated on Air Force One in response to the now-infamous meeting his top aides and his son Donald Jr. had with Russian operatives, including gangsters and a lawyer, at Trump Tower.

On top of this, the new book by Robert Wolff due out in a few days, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reports that the president’s top lawyer and some of his aides believed the lies dictated by the president for use by his son, Donald Jr., regarding that meeting were an explicit attempt to gum up the investigations and obstruct justice. Trump told his son to lie and say the meeting was about Russian child adoption policies. Wolff reported that the lie caused a top Trump aide who was on the plane that day to quit.

These latest developments, taken together with numerous earlier findings and indictments already handed down by the Special Counsel, are more than enough to impeach the president for high crimes and misdemeanors, including but not limited to collusion, obstruction of justice, and money laundering. The missing thing so far is the political will among congressional Republicans to impeach. They hope to continue using Trump to fulfill their agenda of tax cuts for the rich—paid for by cuts in Medicare and Social Security, among other things.

As if all of this were not enough, the Wolff book has now also caused a public rift between Trump and his long-time chief strategist, the fired right-wing media personality, Steve Bannon. The Wolfe book quotes Bannon as having a number of unkind things to say about the president.

Mainstream Republicans like Mitch McConnell could barely conceal their happiness about the rift yesterday, because they believe their approach of ramming through legislation in secret is more effective than Bannon’s style of open brashness.

The point for labor, its allies, and all progressives, however, is that all of them—Trump, Bannon, GOP “extremists,” and the “mainstream” Republicans—have the same anti-working class agenda and differ only in the way they project achievement of that agenda.

George Lakoff, a well-known communications scientist and writer on right-wing political tactics, has been saying that the drama in Trump daily provocations, including his Twitter storms, is basically nothing more than a tactic to control the agenda and divert the movements from the fight for their own issues.

“Trump uses social media as a weapon to control the news cycle,” Lakoff said.

He noted that with some tweets, Trump defines what everyone will be talking about. With others, where it looks like someone else is achieving that first, “he attacks the messenger.”

Tweets, of course, get re-tweeted and by getting them out widely, Trump aims to control public opinion.

“The media think that by reacting in shock and challenging the president that they are fighting him when in reality by reacting to every little tweet they are making Trump bigger than life.

“Imagine,” Lakoff said, “if we took a different approach to Trump’s tweets. Imagine if we put them in a small box in a small corner of the newspaper or only at the end of a newscast as a minor throwaway. Imagine if we took control, and we decided what the agenda is.”

Sounds like a good start. It might help get over that old feeling Pete Seeger used to sing about.

Every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We’re waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

CJ Atkins contributed to this story.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.