Just Asking!

Who’s Talking to Trump? Mind Your Own Business, Says His White House

Why drain the swamp when you can just put a tarp over it, and sell time shares like so much shady Florida real estate?

So now this news about the White House visitor logs. Of course the Trump administration won’t release the logs. What did you expect? They face “grave national security risks”! Love that “grave.” Can’t you just hear Spicy saying that?

Let’s start with the obvious question: What are they hiding? A few guesses:

1. Ambassador Kislyak or some other son (or daughter) of Mother Russia.

2. A few Roger Stone visits.

3. A few Paul Manafort visits.

4. Some heretofore unknown (to me at least) Russian cut-out.

5. Some old and unsavory associate of Trump’s.

6. Lots of people from the Heritage Foundation, starting with bossman Jim DeMint, and other conservative organizations that would reveal who’s really driving policy in this White House, to the extent that anyone can be said to be driving policy.

7. More Devin Nunes entries than we know about, although he’s old news now, but still.

8. Several Richard Burrs and zero Mark Warners—in other words, a series of meeting with the Republican senator running the Russia investigation and a simultaneous freezing out of the ranking Democrat.

9. A regular visitor who would offend the alt-right base.

10. Conversely, an actual flesh-and-blood alt-righter or worse. Richard Spencer!

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Hey, I’m just playing around here.

Of course it could be worse. With Trump it could always be worse.

Yet at the same time, the answer to the “what are they trying to hide” question could also be: Nothing. Trump just thinks it’s none of our damn business, and if Barack Obama did it one way, he’s going to do it another way.

The Beltway ethics watchdogs pounced. Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), which forced this action, immediately issued a statement blasting the White House: “It’s disappointing that the man who promised to ‘drain the swamp’ just took a massive step away from transparency by refusing to release the White House visitor logs that the American people have grown accustomed to accessing over the last six years and that provide indispensable information about who is seeking to influence the president. The Obama administration agreed to release the visitor logs in response to our lawsuits, and despite the Trump administration’s worry over ‘grave national security risks and concerns,’ only positives for the American people came out of them. This week, we sued the Trump administration to make sure they would continue to release the logs. It looks like we’ll see them in court.”

And the conservative Judicial Watch said…wait. Um, I’m sure they must have said something. They said they were going to be just as tough on Trump as they were on Obama and the Clintons.

Well, as of 3 o’clock Friday afternoon, I see no statement on JW’s web site. In fact, if you to JW’s home page, you’ll see that the chief targets right now of their disapprobation are Democratic House members Adam Schiff and Jackie Speier. You will additionally see that Judicial Watch:

• is trumpeting new Obama-IRS documents;

• is warning 11 states to clean up their voter registration files;

• is suing the ATF over its reclassification of a type of bullet as armor-piercing;

• most swashbucklingly of all, is suing the EPA to disclose communications made by career bureaucrats on encrypted software early in the Trump term (remember that two-day mini-scandal) to see if said bureaucrats were trying, as the Washington Examiner put it, “to undermine President Trump’s environmental agenda.”

So in other words, it appears from the group’s own website that everything Judicial Watch is doing right now is aimed at Democrats and bureaucrats, in the EPA instance directly in defense of Trump’s interests. Tigers of nonpartisanship!

I went off on this tangent for a reason. As I’ve written before, the most striking thing about these first Trump days is the realization about the enormous amount of power the right-wing propaganda/media network had in driving scandals and “scandals” while Obama was the president. Judicial Watch, though not media per se, was a crucial cylinder in that engine, in that all the Hillary email stuff originated in their legal briefs, and then fanned out to a ravenous base and a credulous mainstream press through talk-radio and Fox News and so on.

There is no such finely-tuned machinery on the liberal side, and as a result so many of the things this White House has done that would have been enormous controversies if Obama had done them (to pick one off the top of my head: not citing Jews in the Holocaust remembrance) just die. So it wouldn’t shock me to see this one die, too.

But there is CREW. CREW has teeth. Norm Eisen and Richard Painter, the bipartisan (Democrat and Republican, respectively) heads of the organization, mean business. So CREW, go do the voodoo that CREW does so well. Then we’ll see what the Trumpsters are hiding.