Eugene Robinson Live (Feb. 13)

Eugene Robinson
Feb 13, 2018

Read Eugene's latest: Trump tells a lot of little lies. This is the big one.

Hi, everybody, and welcome to our regular chat. Well, another day, another hot mess. My column today says that President Trump's faux populism is the Big Lie he foists upon his supporters, but today the news -- so far -- involves another of the garden-variety lies this administration tells almost by reflex. On Capitol Hill, FBI Director Chris Wray simply obliterated the White House version of what it knew, and when, about fired aide Rob Porter's reported spousal abuse. The FBI first sounded the alarm last March. I repeat, last March. On top of that, basically everything Sarah Sanders and John Kelly have said about the Porter affair is wrong, Wray testified. Why does the Trump team keep putting out false stories that are bound to fall apart? Is pathological lying contagious? Should the White House be quarantined? In other news, the intelligence chiefs told Congress that the Russians are totally geared up to meddle in the November election. I can think of only one American who doesn't care, but he happens to be president. Let's get started. 

is there Anything that Jane / John Q Public can do to counter the Terpitude & Ineptitude of this POTUS related to - it’s Failure to “gird” America, facing continual Russian cyber onslaughts & the Constant Denegration of the FBI ?? Is there a way to file an Individual or Class, criminal complaint with a US Attorney Office? Thank you Mr Robinson

Not that I know of. The only remedy is Articles of Impeachment, and that's up to the House of Representatives. So unless you happen to be a member of Congress...

Why didn't Trump?

The portraits of President and Mrs. Obama unveiled yesterday are not the White House portraits. These will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

In today's column you detail some more of the good-sounding lies that make Trump's supporters rave about his "telling it like it is" while his Republican enablers applaud. Is there any hope that we would one day have a Congress filled with enough adults to actually begin to solve the many problems created by globalization, climate change, and technological acceleration? Trump is just the natural culmination of "tell them what they want to hear" politics - where "them" is YOUR them rather than THEIR them. Meanwhile OUR them suffers the results of no government.

It is up to you -- and all of us -- what kind of Congress we have. There's an election in November. If people who feel the way you and I do make the effort to vote, then yes, we can have a Congress that fulfills its constitutional responsibilities. If not, we won't. Simple as that.

Gene - Why are you so worked up about this? Look at Oklahoma, their teachers are only working 4 days a week now so there's got to be some infrastructure money there. Kansas too with the great "experiment" they had that worked so well. And hey, when all those billions pour in from Mexico to build the wall we could divert some of that cash to food stamps. Just another day in paradise, isn't it?

I guess I'm tired of all the winning.

What do you think is the psychological effect on society as a whole when the prevelance of bias in media continues to increase? In particular, the aggragate affect on individuals ability to conclude their own opinions and thus make decisions about the information provided.

The nation can survive having conservative media and liberal media. That was what we had for most of our history, in fact. The problem is having "alternative facts." We need to agree on a chronicle of events and an encyclopedia of facts, and then we can argue about what they mean.

Why does anyone let people get away with saying the military has been "decimated"? Its just false.

Indeed false. If people say that, call them on it.


Such kindness. Seek help.

There have been times in the past and recent past where I think we have been too quick on the outrage meter. Tom Daschle comes to mind. I wonder how the health care program might have turned out had he been able to blow thru whatever minor scandal he had to helm a new program thru congress. Even as a female I don't think Al Franken should have left. Just two examples where if we had not been so quick to hyperventilate maybe some been long term outcomes might have happened. With Trump maybe we will develop some resistance to instant outrage that hurts us in the long term. Or am I just desperate to find some good in this mess?

Sorry but I think you're grasping. I really don't think men are the victims here. No one should be treated unfairly, of course. But the point that really needs to be made is that no one should be harassed, assaulted or abused.

President Trump wants states and localities to pay for the lion's share of infrastructure expenses. Why not the same for the wall? Why doesn't Congress just approve the Border Wall subject to the appropriation of funding by Mexico.

I think there may be times when Mitch McConnell would like to do just that.

Based on everything that I've seen and heard, I don't see Trump EVER putting the country's interests above his own in any circumstance. Given this, do you really think he will give up power willingly should he be impeached or lose in 2020? I foresee lots of blaming the "deep state" or the "rigged" election system.

The minute a new president is sworn in, the military and the rest of the government will stop taking President Trump's orders. His belongings will be taken out of the White House and the new president's will be moved in. That's the way it works.

Mandatory PASSED Security Clearances are required for Many Fields. One CAN'T be hired otherwise. How in HELL, in our Most Intel sensitive WH can "dozens?" Of UNCLEARED personnel be milling around the OVAL OFFICE?? With Classified Docs strewn over the desk? Putin must be Very Proud of his orange fledgling!!

This is a huge story and it will not go away. Why are people like Jared Kushner allowed to read classified documents when they have not received a clearance -- and apparently cannot be cleared? I guess the short answer is that the president gets to decide what's classified and what's not, but one would think that Congress would be raising holy hell.

How does the WH push back on FBI Chief and his timeline of events surrounding Porter?

I'll go out on a limb and say that obfuscation, dissembling or outright lying will be involved. Just a hunch.

Hi Gene -- how worried should Dems be that the impact of tax reform could blunt their advantage in November? I fear a self-fulfilling prophecy...the Republicans outwitted us again, why bother to vote, hangs head in despair. Ugh. That horrible feeling would be second only to what I felt the day after Trump won.

Then get out and work to convince people to elect representatives who will hold this administration accountable. Worrying doesn't help. Hard work does.

Realistically, outside of voting what can be done to hold this WH accountable? Congress is not a reliable and has abdicated oversight responsibility. I struggle constantly with feeling helpless. IT'S NOT RIGHT.

Voting is the people's remedy. It works. We need to use it.

Doesn't this all go back to the Nixon presidency, when they berated John Mitchell for not being able to "control" his wife (Martha, who loved to spill to the media). Presumably the Trumpers are no more evolved than the Nixonians were 45 years ago.

Considerably less evolved, I think. The Nixon White House was much more competent than this White House. At every level.

What is Trump's end game? He has his beloved tax break. Why would he want to destroy a functioning government that IMHO works for the rich anyway? I had hoped he would have just slid into the Oval and kept the well-oiled machine running to the financial benefit of his family and cronies. Instead: crippling deficits, slashing the social safety net to shreds (with civil disturbances surely to follow -- people can only take so much before they crack, and non-stop chaos. What's the point?

He wants adulation and reelection. I don't know that there's much more of a point.

Especially since that's not what "decimated" actually means...but I concede that we've lost that one.

I know. We lost that one long ago.

Wasn't that sarcasm?

Afraid not.

Good Lord! Everytime I think Trump can't get any lower, he does! Is he going to kick small dogs and take candy from orphans next?

You shoulda heard that orphan crying like a baby. Sad!

If Rob Porter, who didn't have the appropriate clearance to see certain materials, saw them, why aren't those materials available to all of us...once someone without clearance has seen them, it seems to me they should be in the public domain.

I feel awkward defending our system of classification, because it's used far too much. That said, there is information that should be secret, and we should all be uncomfortable with allowing people who can't get a clearance to see that material.

Do you think the deficit-busting budgets Trump and Republicans are championing are a complete abandonment of any pretense to fiscal conservative principles (or admission they were all a sham) or could it be an insidious plot to break the US Bank to force even more Draconian cuts to the social safety net, as Ryan and others have always wanted?

Both. They will use the soaring deficits as an excuse to weaken the safety net, but they know it's irresponsible to cut revenues this much and they don't care.

More like the Trump Ego Parade! What is his malfunction?

I think you used the word "ego." That might be a clue.

It seems to me that a significant percentage of the country heard the White House say they did nothing wrong and acted to remove Porter as soon as they heard of the allegations. Anything to the contrary will be ignored and deemed a fake news attack from the liberal media. Please tell me I'm wrong.

You're wrong. Whether people will care or not is up to them, but they'll hear what Wray said.

Paul Ryan decided that the constitution doesn't apply to a republican president. Is there anything that can be done?

Midterm election. November. Every seat in the House up for grabs, including Ryan's. That is what can be done.

There was an article from The Fix today talking about the potential negative impacts of the Left's propensity to be outraged over every sentence and press release from the White House - while noting many things have been outrage worthy. In your mind where is the line between calling people on lies and prejudices vs being so mad all the time about everything that nobody will listen to valid criticisms? Have as a nation crossed it?

None of this is normal, and I don't think it's good to pretend that it is. A lie is a lie and it needs to be called out. 

November is a long, long time from now. What to do in the next nine months?

Spend that time working to elect good people in November. The election has to be the game-changer, or else the game stays the same.


That's it for today, folks. Our time is up. Come back and we'll do it again next week!

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Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson is an Associate Editor and twice-weekly columnist for The Washington Post. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. In a 25-year career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section. In 2005, he started writing a column for the Op-Ed page. He is the author of "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" (1999) and "Last Dance in Havana" (2004). Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards.
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