Too Many Lies to Keep Track Of

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and the president in happier times.Handout/Planet Pix via ZUMA

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Today is beyond nuts. The president’s lawyer has admitted that the president paid off a porn star to keep her quiet during the campaign and has been lying about it ever since. He also admitted that the president fired the FBI director because he had refused to publicly state that the president wasn’t under investigation. He also thinks that pretty much everyone in the Justice Department should be fired in order to bring the current investigation of the president to a halt. And they should probably all be investigated themselves. Oh, and we also learned that the president’s bagman/fixer has been under a wiretap for at least the past several weeks, which might explain some of the panic emanating from the White House. [UPDATE: It was a pen register, not a wiretap. In other words, just a record of incoming and outgoing calls, not recordings of conversations.]

Meanwhile, the president’s most corrupt underlings are engaged in a brutal war of all-against-all. Over at the Atlantic, Elaina Plott reports that an aide to Scott Pruitt tried to push a damaging story about Ryan Zinke in order to get the spotlight off of Pruitt’s own massive corruption problems:

In the last week, a member of Pruitt’s press team, Michael Abboud, has been shopping negative stories about Zinke to multiple outlets, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the efforts, as well as correspondence reviewed by The Atlantic….The stories were shopped with the intention of “taking the heat off of Pruitt,” the sources said.

….Abboud alleged to reporters that an Interior staffer conspired with former EPA deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski to leak damaging information about the EPA, as part of a rivalry between Zinke and Pruitt. The collaboration, Abboud claimed, allowed the Interior staffer to prop up Zinke at the expense of Pruitt, and Chmielewski to “get back” at his former boss.

….It is unclear the extent to which Pruitt was aware of these events. Even so, the message from PPO, according to the senior official, was: “Basically, y’all are in trouble.” A White House official with knowledge of the events added: “Absolutely nothing Scott Pruitt did would surprise me.” Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for Interior, and Raj Shah, a spokesman for the White House, both declined to comment.

In case you’re confused, the story is that Zinke planned to leak damaging information about Pruitt. So Pruitt then leaked that story in order to damage Zinke.

As for whether Pruitt was aware of these events, give me a break. Hell, it was probably his idea. Pruitt is now at the center of so many corruption allegations that I can’t even keep track of them, and his defense for every one of them has been that it was somebody else’s fault and he had no idea what was going on. Nobody with two brain cells to rub together believes him. Why believe him this time?

But wait. I forgot. Let’s get back to the president for a minute. The president’s lawyer also said that he opposed having the president talk to the special counsel because he didn’t want the president walking into a perjury trap. But a perjury trap only works if the target has done something wrong and gets blindsided during an interview. That’s how Ken Starr bagged Bill Clinton. It doesn’t work if either (a) the target has done nothing wrong or (b) the target knows a perjury trap is coming. Since Donald Trump insists he’s done nothing wrong and his lawyer has obviously warned him about a perjury trap, then he should have nothing to worry about.

Just a wild guess here, but I’m thinking that Trump has not only done something wrong, but he’s done so many things wrong that he can’t even keep them straight. Thus a perjury trap remains a live possibility.

Anyway, it’s kind of funny that Republicans are so disturbed by perjury traps these days. They seemed to think they were great fun back in 1998.

Oh, and one other thing. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was so affronted at being called a liar at the WHCD last weekend, has been lying about Stormy Daniels all along too. Or maybe Trump has been lying to her. Who knows? In any case, she’s refusing to comment about it. I think this is probably a smart move.


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