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BY MAX BURBANK | Hey, gang, here’s a quick, fun question: Is the United States in the midst of a constitutional crisis? That’s a difficult legal question, sadly, complicated by the fact there is no single agreed upon-definition of the phrase.
Facts absolutely no one disputes are hard to come by right now, but here’s one, and it’s a good enough starting place: May 9, President Donald Trump fires FBI Director James Comey — something he, as president, indisputably has the authority to do. That’s the last clear thing we can say about anything that’s happened since before that tiny fact nugget began to roll down a massive mountain, gathering snow and ice as it tumbled, dislodging millions of other bits of frozen debris, and becoming a single, thunderous, wave of destruction!
Except that first fact wasn’t metaphorical snow. It was a dung ball careening down a mountain of crap. In the absence of an official definition of a constitutional crisis, I’ll offer mine: a turd avalanche. A turdvalanche? Is there anyone willing to argue that the United States is not currently experiencing a vast, catastrophic, turdvalanche?
An avalanche is a wave phenomenon that can’t be analyzed in terms of its individual parts. Past the instant of Comey’s firing, is any specific event pivotal? Does the ludicrous initial explanation that Trump was yielding to the Justice Department’s desire to dismiss Comey on account of how gosh darn mean he was to Hillary Clinton matter? Wasn’t that made irrelevant by Trump’s letter of termination, where he thanked Comey for informing him that he was not under investigation for that whole silly old Russia business? And wasn’t that eclipsed when Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt he was going to fire Comey anyway because he was a “showboat” and a “grandstander,” and a general pain in the ass over that whole fake Russia deal? Didn’t that make Jefferson Beauregard “World’s Most Adorable Li’l Racist Garden Gnome” Sessions violation of his recusal a pointless non-factor? Once an avalanche gets rolling, does cause and effect apply, or is everything contributing all at once? Is Sean Spicer’s hiding in the bushes an important contributing factor, or just hilarious? Did he refuse to speak to reporters until they turned off their lights because of his crushing shame and embarrassment, or is he a vampire?
Trump somehow didn’t seem to understand that firing the man investigating you for colluding with Russia makes it look just a tiny bit like maybe you are actually guilty of colluding with Russia. So it should come as no surprise that the only thing on Trump’s schedule the next day was… meeting with the Russians! That pairs nicely with following up a full day of being called “Nixonian” by meeting with Nixon’s old partner in war crimes, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. Lacking the gene for experiencing irony may not be the root cause of metaphorical avalanches, but it certainly helps them gain deadly speed and force. Wait, though, we’re really only halfway down the hill.
Trump met totally unsuspiciously with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov because Putin asked him to. Also in attendance was Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak — who you might remember as the guy Michael “Former National Security Adviser” Flynn got fired for lying about talking to, and the guy who Sessions had to recuse himself from all things Russian for lying about talking to. It’s funny, because Kislyak’s name isn’t on the president’s schedule for the day. We only know he was there because of photos published by TASS, Russia’s official state news agency. With true middle school panache, they were invited and the American press was barred. And here comes the bottom of the hill.
During the meeting Trump revealed highly classified information, in the process jeopardizing a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Information provided by a US partner that we withheld from allies because of its sensitivity, a partner who I would guess would be far less likely to share intelligence with us again.
Could be Trump is truly in the Kremlin’s pocket. He’s paying them off for electing him president; he owes them buckets of money; they really have the pee tape; who knows? Here’s a sadder possibility: He did it for the same reason he told Billy Bush he could grab women by the pussy. He wanted to impress them. They’re Putin’s inside henchmen, the people closest to a dictator with an iron first — everything Donald Trump dreams of being. Trump was showboating, grandstanding. He’d had a really bad night and he needed to look big and tough and alpha, so he bragged about the “great intel” he gets briefed on every day. Could be both, I guess. Either way, given all of that — plus the Comey memo shocker that came to light on May 16 — shouldn’t we be warming up impeachment hearings or priming the pump on the 25th Amendment?
As of press time, this is where we were. Anything could have happened by the time you read this. Maybe right now you’re thinking, “Why is he writing about all this when since then, Trump stopped wearing pants, slapped a fake nose and eyeglasses on his wiener, and started walking on his hands insisting everyone talk to his junk?”
See, when I said this was the bottom of the hill? I may have lied a little bit, on account of how scary this all is. More likely we hit a plateau, and just a little further on is another precipitous drop, and then another, and another.
Most folks caught in an avalanche never live to see the actual end of it.