Oh, and after Kelly left, the crimes appear to have actually happened, because every time Trump fired someone, he'd replace him with someone he thought would be more willing to do crimes. For Kelly's post, Trump would go on to choose House Freedom Caucus crime-likers Mick Mulvaney and, later, Mark Meadows (go figure), which was a pretty bold admission from all sides that if you're a high-level Republican attempting to do crimes, then picking pretty much anyone out of the Freedom Caucus will be your best and most efficient path forward.
This is our lives now. Forever, apparently. An unending stream of top-level Republicans freely admitting to the press that Donald Trump was absolutely trying to do very specific crimes all the damn day long, both before and after being scraped out of the White House with a stick, and no matter how many times it happened, everyone stayed quiet about it and concerned themselves mainly with making sure they personally couldn't be tagged with the crimes if and when somebody else decided to do them.
Or, as it is more commonly known, the Jim Jordan gambit.
At issue is the new claim from Donald Trump that he, as "president," used the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service to help Florida Republican Ron DeSantis win the state's governorship in 2018. As always, it is unclear what Treasonboy is talking about, and there's a better than 80% chance he's just lying through his coup-attempting teeth, because Donald Trump lies about everything, all the time. It did, however, prompt Trump's White House chief of staff at the time, John Kelly, to inform The Times that he wasn't aware of any such effort.
But, Kelly now tells The Times, Trump did ask him to use those two government agencies to investigate or harass many of Trump's self-declared political enemies, including former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former CIA Director John Brennan, two FBI employees Trump targeted for their involvement in the probe of Russian election manipulation, and others.
Kelly says he repeatedly refused, warning Trump that using government investigations to target political enemies was not just "inappropriate" but "illegal," only to have Trump return to the topic time and time again. But after Kelly left, James Comey and Andrew McCabe did find themselves targets of intensive IRS audits. The IRS insists that those audits, among the most invasive and expensive types of audits the IRS is able to bring to bear, were random coincidences.
What are the odds of either man being targeted by random chance?
"Out of the 153 million returns filed for the year Mr. Comey was audited, only 5,000 tax returns were targeted for the audit. For the year Mr. McCabe was audited, 154 million people filed returns and 8,000 were selected for the audit," reports The Times, and that gives us our answer. The odds that James Comey was "randomly" selected by the IRS for hyper-thorough auditing is 0.0033%; for McCabe, it is 0.0052%.
Even presuming Trump regularly demanded audits of, say, all 50 of his most hated enemies, the odds of any one of them "randomly" landing in the IRS' audit crosshairs is roughly, what? 1 in 50,000? For both Trump's most-hated FBI director and his direct most-hated subordinate to land on that same square, purely as coincidence?
Trump is either one of the luckiest ratbastards on the planet, or multiple somebodies in his chain of command were willing to go forward with the exact crimes Kelly says Trump was obsessed with committing during Kelly's tenure. And a man who can bankrupt a casino isn't exactly swimming in that kind of luck.
This is, no matter how many times the major papers dump it on us, Not Normal. It is not normal for countless members of an administration, past or present, to lazily mention to the press that a sitting president was constantly pressing his subordinates to commit crimes. It is not normal for nearly every sloughed-off member of an administration to insist, to the press, that the creature they worked for was forever ignorant about his oath of office, the constraints on the office, what he was supposed to be doing, what he was supposed to be paying attention to, or indeed anything that wasn't delivered with his name or a picture of his own face littering the pages to keep his meager attention.
It is not normal for any democracy to have a leader who is constantly attempting to Do Crimes so that he can get back at people who have insulted or exposed him. Hiding classified national security documents in a private golf resort while insisting to the government that he doesn't have them, and if he does, they're his own property anyway: not normal. Attempting a coup for the sole reason of being inordinately butt-hurt: not normal.
You are not at fault for wondering why an entire national party is and was willing to directly enable criminal actions by their leader, or, failing that, covering them up, or failing that, at least doing the would-be criminal the favor of ignoring his attempts at crime so that if the crime happened elsewhere than at least they personally.
Kelly's new information, delivered long after it would have done a plausible amount of good, is that the Trump enemies who find themselves targeted by the IRS were, in fact, the Trump enemies Trump was most obsessed with unleashing the IRS upon, back when he had the power to do so. This news, coupled with the extreme implausibility of Trump's targets being subject to such attention by random chance, rather strongly suggests that somebody in Trump's pre-violent-coup orbit accommodated his White House demands to do crimes.
We might presume it's one of the people Trump specifically hired on for their willingness to commit crimes, but that would be rude.
We might presume it somehow involves Mark Freaking Meadows, who wouldn't let even an attempted overthrow of the government tarnish his devotion to ignoring Republican criminal acts, and that would also be rude. But we'll do it anyway, because when you're asking who in Trump's orbit would be most likely to help him do crimes, "ex-House Republican plucked from the Freedom Caucus" is always, always going to be a good bet. That's a resume that fairly screams, "I will help you do crimes."
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