By Stump Connolly

         Well, the problems stacked up pretty fast for Donald Trump after he gave that Save America speech and incited a riot in the Capitol. His Twitter account was cancelled, the PGA yanked its golf championship from Bedminster, Mitch McConnell stopped talking to him, Deutsche Bank said it won’t do any new business with him, and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he should call Joe Biden to show “unity.”

         Not to mention, Nancy Pelosi has all her ducks in a row for impeachment tomorrow. Vice President Mike Pence, who was once as close to Trump as a leach, is missing in action, probably off in his special place asking God whether to invoke the 25th amendment, thus declaring the President a nut case. (At 10 PM, Pence issued a statement. God said no.)  And there are still eight days until Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Breaking News

         Out of an abundance of caution, I’ve been watching all this unfold at home on a cable channel that gives me a quad-split of the live feeds from CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and the BBC. I stay away from it in the morning, but at noon, I try to catch Breanna Keiler’s Breaking News to get the lay of the land.

         In bullet-point fashion, she reported:

         * The House was buttoning up an impeachment resolution they would pass if the President didn’t resign.

         * President Trump was flying off to Alamo, Texas, to inspect his wall. Lindsey Graham, his off-again-on-again, best and/or last friend, was going along as the adult day care, as former Senator Bob Corker once put it. (Thank you, Chuck Todd.)

         * Mike Pompeo suddenly called off his visit to NATO allies, “something you wouldn’t do unless something was up,” Breanna said.

         * The FBI sent out a bulletin warning of right-wing militias rallying in state capitals, seizing government buildings, surrounding the Capitol and otherwise disrupting the inauguration. “This is an organized group that has a plan,” Rep. Conor Lamb said. “We’re talking about thousands of people, with published rules of engagement.”

         * On Fox, there’s a video clip of the runway presser Trump did on his way to Texas. Trump explains that his remarks leading to the attack on the Capitol were “totally appropriate.” On impeachment, he said, “It’s really a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics. It’s ridiculous . . . I think it will cause tremendous anger.”

         Mike Huckabee, now a Fox commentator, interpreted that for his audience. “Impeachment shows tremendous disrespect, not only for Trump, but for the 75 million people who voted for him. The Democrats are making a big mistake, this is a time for unity,” he added.

Treading Water

         After that first hit of breaking news, the cable channels usually start treading water in the early afternoon while they wait to see whether anything they predicted comes true. That gave MSNBC a chance to check in with their White House correspondent, Shannon Pettypiece, to see how it was going over there.

         “The White House right now feels like a poorly run startup company. It is just chaos,” she reported. “Plans are being made and cancelled. No one has clear answers to things. Last week we were told the President was going to Camp David, then we were told he wasn’t going. Yesterday, we were told there could be some remarks coming around 7. There were no remarks. Again today, there’s some sort of hastily organized trip where the local authorities weren’t notified. We have no idea what’s on the President’s schedule for the rest of the week.

         “This is how things are ending in the Trump administration. This is what the last week looks like.”

All Hat, No Cattle

         The President’s plane landed in Texas around 2 PM. He stepped to a lecturn and read from scripted remarks.

         “Free speech is under assault like never before. Now is the time for our nation to heal. It’s time for peace and calm.”

         Then he said what he really came to say. “We’ve done a great job on the vaccines. You know it’s tough to make a vaccine. . . They said it would take years and years, but we delivered it. They’re calling it a medical miracle . . .

         Click.

         The only channel carrying Trump live was Fox, and they cut him off like a loose fingernail. All the other channels were carrying an FBI press conference about what really happened in the Capitol, and Fox couldn’t wait to get there. Trump was alone now, all hat and no cattle. The focus was no longer on him. The focus was on the wreckage he left in his wake.

Insurrection

         I’ve been calling it a riot, but as the FBI made clear, it was a lot more than that. It was an organized assault, according to reports coming into the FBI, by right-wing militants, exchanging rules of engagement in encrypted chat rooms, for the purpose of keeping Donald Trump in office. It was brutal, dangerous, and likely to happen again.

         Over 70 people have been arrested, and hundreds of others are under investigation. The potential charges range from trespassing to murder to sedition. The FBI was combing the internet for clues of a conspiracy, aided by over 100,000 pieces of digital evidence sent in by people watching the video clips on TV. There would be more to come, much more.

The Ebb and Flow of News

         At 4:14 PM, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman posted up their own breaking news in The New York Times online.

         “Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party,” they reported.

         “At the same time, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s most steadfast allies in Congress, has asked his conference whether he should call on Mr. Trump to resign.”

         “Mr. Trump has shown no trace of contrition, telling reporters on Tuesday that his remarks to supporters had been “totally appropriate,” and that it was the specter of his impeachment that was “causing tremendous anger.”

         By 5:30 PM, all that ebb and flow on the cable news channels gets funnelled  into a 4-minute “package” on The Evening News – where normal people get their news.

         The nightly package on NBC paired McConnell’s softening on impeachment with the announcement by Republican House leader Liz Cheney she would vote aye to show the impeachment juggernaut was gaining steam. As many as a dozen House Republicans were now thinking of signing on.

         “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a statement. “Everything that followed was his doing. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not.”

         Within the hour, two more did. The Impeachment #2 roller coaster was back on track.

         I better rest up. Tomorrow is going to be a big day. We’re going to hear a lot of opinions on where we go next. But the one thing I know everybody agrees on. We need unity.

 

 

 


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