Your Sunday Rundown 2.0!
This week's Sunday shows had so much stupidity, it couldn't be contained to ONE Sunday Rundown. After Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was done blaming Americans being fat for them being more susceptible to COVID-19, CNN's "State Of The Union" interviewed Wisconsin GOP senator and Oversight Committee chairman Ron Johnson on the Friday night Saturday Night Massacring of Steve Linick, the inspector general of the State Department (SDIG). Host Jake Tapper quoted Utah senator Mitt Romney's comments about this "threat to accountable democracy" and then asked Johnson to weigh in.
Johnson retreated to the super worn-out reasoning the GOP has trotted out for everything from Trump firing Jim Comey to the firing of Andrew McCabe to Trump's retaliation against Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland for testifying about Trump's impeachable (and impeached) Ukraine extortion:
Let's check in with what kinda Nazi shit Donald Trump's enablers are still doing while Americans are dropping dead of a pandemic!
One terrible thing about the coronavirus crisis in America — you know, aside from the almost-17,000-and-counting deaths Donald Trump could have done something to prevent — is that the same evil people are still behind the scenes doing the same evil things they were doing before. There's just less of a light on them, because of how the media is rightfully obsessed with the pandemic.
So what is the embodiment of rightwing evil, Attorney General Bill Barr, up to? What is that low-rent dime store broken condom dispenser in a truck stop off the highway version of Roy Cohn doing to enable Trump's continuing crime sprees?
Well, for one thing, he's going on Laura Ingraham's white nationalist "Hee Haw" show!
And he thinks Trump's purge of inspectors general, especially his firing of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, was just awesome. Atkinson was fired because he followed the law and, when presented with a whistleblower's evidence that Trump was trying to force Ukraine to help him steal the 2020 election, he didn't do cover-ups for Trump like Bill Barr did.
Her replacement, Kayleigh McEnany, is worse.
Stephanie Grisham is officially no longer doing the job she never did in the first place. The White House press secretary is out, and she was never in (we could do this all day). She leaves the role having never once briefed the press or berated them for kicks. That's a new record for uselessness, which is quite the achievement for a White House with both an Ivanka and a Jared.
Grisham replaced the odious Sarah Huckabee Sanders in July and since then she fiercely advocated for her downsizing. She claimed Trump was his own "best spokesperson" and the "most accessible president in history." She insisted that press briefings were “a lot of theater" (remember when we had theater?) that reporters used to make themselves famous. She restricted her public appearances to Fox News foot massage sessions, where she was often praised as the hardest-working woman in no business. Take this ridiculous exchange from "Fox & Friends" last fall:
AINSLEY EARHARDT: How do you do it?
GRISHAM: I'm just tired a lot. But if I can keep up with the president, that's all that matters.
The woman did absolutely nothing.
Michael Atkinson has a few more things he'd like to say!
Friday night, in a late news dump, we learned that Donald Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, because we guess he was having a little shithole authoritarian temper tantrum and that was the only thing that would make him feel better. Yes, Trump did this in the middle of a pandemic that he is so serious about that he's obsessively trying to make Americans ingest an unproven drug that may or may not be effective.
Atkinson's sin, obviously, is that he protected the whistleblower who made America aware that Trump was trying to steal another election by actively extorting Ukraine to announce fake investigations into Joe Biden in exchange for military aid that Congress had already appropriated and was desperately needed by Ukraine in its hot war with Russia. Atkinson also made Congress aware of the whistleblower complaint, which is what he was supposed to do according to the law. And yes, that includes Adam Schiff, because he is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
In other words, Trump fired Atkinson for doing his job, exactly as we'd expect an un-American barely elected president with authoritarian tendencies to do.
Atkinson has responded to being fired, and it's quite a statement, albeit an extremely professional one:
It is hard not to think that the President's loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General, and from my commitment to continue to do so.
Yep, that's what happened! Here is the full statement: