* All politicians love props. From kids to military to minorities. From selfies to framed, campaign-rally backdrops. President Donald Trump is, obviously, no exception. He just ups the ante on hypocrisy and self-service. As a result, no one is precluding the possibility that a campaign rally could very well include, if not feature, Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who had been incarcerated for violating the military’s rules of conduct before being pardoned by Trump. A rally warrior-prop in exchange for a pardon? There is quid pro quo precedent.
* Republicans for the Rule of Law–remember them?–is running an ad about the impeachment hearings that slams the White House for not allowing key witnesses to testify. “These witnesses must testify,” it says. “What is Trump afraid of?” How about the rule of law?
* During his NATO visit to London this week, President Trump attended a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. This has all the trappings of a “Saturday Night Live” cold opening.
* So who does President Trump nominate–after a three-year vacancy–to be undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights? Marshall Billingslea, an official involved in the Pentagon’s post-9/11 use of harsh interrogation techniques. The controversial choice of Billingslea might not matter much to the Republican Party or the Trump base, but whoever holds the top human rights post in the State Department is well noted by those assessing America’s commitment to human rights abroad.
* Food for thought: Used to be that price supports for farmers were the domain of Congress. No longer. Trump just sent some $20 billion in aid to farmers. It’s what happens when a trade war wreaks havoc and the wreaker-in-chief believes in the usurpation of powers.
* “I believe the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press. A free press ensures the flow of information to the public … ensuring the vitality of a free and independent press is more important than ever.” That’s not some idealized progressive rhetoric. That was VP Mike Pence’s take on the role of the press vis a vis government a few, pre-Trump years ago.
* It had to be awkward when “Triggered,” the anti-left screed by Donald Trump Jr., debuted at No.1 on the New York Times Best Seller non-fiction list. It was a PR coup at the expense of the “failing New York Times.” Ironically, it has since dropped back to No. 2, replaced by “A Warning” by Anonymous, whose sales were not ginned up by campaign-related bulk sales.
* How dare Republicans still claim that theirs is the “Party of Lincoln,” unless they’re referring to George Lincoln Rockwell.