It’s been exactly 365 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated, perhaps one of the darkest days in American history.
In that time, Trump has embarrassed the nation daily with a series of petulant, whiny, racist, mendacious and just-plain-dumb statements, whether by tweet, blurt or otherwise. This barely begins to summarize a year in which the bombardment of news from the White House has been, to put it mildly, soul crushing. All told, Trump and his disciples have engaged in one proud dick-move after another — an endless roundelay of disruption, grievances and self-defeating madness, backed by the increasingly perilous Trump-Russia investigation.
We’re a year into the Trump crisis, and, predictably, Trump continues to not know anything about anything.
He doesn’t read. He barely pays attention. He knows little about the constitutional inner workings of the government. And we continue to observe his rank ignorance every day.
Today, for example, Trump tweeted something about the impending government shutdown, writing the word “past” instead of “passed.” He also delivered an address to the Right To Life marchers in Washington, DC, which included this: “Right now, in a number of states, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month. It is wrong. It has to change.” [Groan.]
There’s little shit like that — volumes and volumes of similar blunders — and then there are major policy fuckups.
Late last week, Trump nearly flummoxed-by-tweet a congressional vote to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act, originally passed (not “past”) in 2008. The law included the controversial “Section 702,” which allows for surveillance of foreign targets without a warrant, as well as the inadvertent collection of data from “U.S. Persons” who are found to be communicating with the aforementioned foreign targets. You might remember one of the NSA documents stolen and released by Edward Snowden back in 2013 in which the “PRISM” program was exposed to the public — the mass collection of digital metadata by the NSA. PRISM exists due to Section 702.
Back to Trump. The kooky conspiracy theory in pro-Trump circles is that Section 702 was allegedly exploited to target and “wiretap” Trump Tower during the election. Last Thursday, Trump tweeted: “‘House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.’ This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?”
This tweet prompted White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to rush into the Oval Office to correct the president’s position, given how the administration actually supports the reupping of the FISA Amendments Act, along with Section 702. Clearly, Trump was utterly clueless about whatever it was he was tweeting about — something he heard on Fox News Channel, delivered into the camera by Andrew Napolitano and directed squarely at Trump personally.
Well, today Trump tweeted about Section 702 again. And, of course, it made no flipping sense whatsoever.
Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection. This is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election. I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2018
In other words, Trump signed the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act, but then he insisted that it’s “not the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election.”
Section 702 is part of FISA. The inadvertent collection of metadata from U.S. persons is part of FISA. The bill he just signed, S. 139: FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, reauthorizes FISA. It’s all about FISA. Yet he appears to believe the reauthorization he signed isn’t connected to the FISA Amendments Act.
The upshot here is that Trump doesn’t know what the hell he signed. He doesn’t understand the FISA law, which is remarkable given the existence of his, y’know, National Security Council, as well as countless intelligence community advisers who can explain it to him — on demand and slowly, as if he’s a four-year-old. The other possibility is that he indeed has a cursory understanding of FISA, but he wants his true-believers to cling desperately to his old “wiretap” canard, so he’s lying to them.
Trump knows nothing. I’ve been tweeting those words since the beginning. A year into his term, he still knows nothing. Frankly, I’m shocked that his unforgivable incompetence hasn’t precipitated any major wars or other mass-casualty events. We’ve been quite lucky along those lines, given how badly he’s destabilizing so much of the world. The silver lining is, naturally, the hope that we’ll be sitting here, one year from today, with Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress to thwart his agenda and, fingers crossed, to initiate serious impeachment proceedings.
Hold fast, my friends. There’s a decent chance it’ll get worse before it gets better.