Rambling and often incoherent, President Trump made his UN press conference mainly about himself and not about defending his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. He raised the canard that "four or five women who got paid a lot of money" accused him of sexual harassment and implied that he could determine himself whether people accused had actually committed the acts. "I never saw them do anything wrong," he said of his friends Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly.
It was a presidential press conference as it would be performed by a comedian.
The President who bragged about abusing women on the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape has reportedly taken command of the effort to push Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court despite allegations that, in his high school and college years, he too treated women abysmally.
The result, on display at the press conference, surely left many viewers aghast, while it may have played well with many in his base. There was Trump denying people had laughed at him during his recent the United Nations address (they did laugh at him) and calling a member of Congress from California "little Adam Schiff."
Trump dismissed the allegations against Kavanaugh as part of a "con job" perpetrated by the Democratic Party, referring to the Senate minority leader and his colleagues as "Schumer and the con artists." He said the Senate minority leader "and his buddies are in there laughing" at the Kavanaugh mess. Of course, no one is laughing about the allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when he was in prep school, attended parties where gang rapes occurred, and exposed himself to a classmate at Yale.
For nearly 90 minutes, the President wandered from topic to topic, often praising himself and resorting to his favorite material, including "the wall" and "if I wasn't elected, you'd be in a war." When he turned his attention to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he sounded a lot like the TV dinosaur Barney, saying, "He likes me, I like him, we get along."
As he gave a master class in changing the topic and misdirection, Trump tried to charm by joshing with reporters and tossing off observations about how the Kurdish people are "great fighters." He threatened to impose tariffs on cars coming to the US from Canada. "That's the mother lode," he quipped. And he insisted that "women are very angry" about the accusations against Kavanaugh. "I have women that are incensed at what's going on," he observed.
Hours before, Trump alleged that a college classmate who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself at a Yale party was "all messed up and doesn't know," and called a third accuser's allegations about Kavanaugh attending parties where gang rapes occurred "ridiculous."
Trump's struggle to win Kavanaugh's confirmation is all the more difficult because of his own personal record of saying awful things about women and the multiple allegations of sexual harassment made against him during the 2016 campaign.
Also, this is the President who has treated some members of his own party so shabbily that he cannot count on their steadfast support. Arizona's Jeff Flake, to name one, rebuked Trump for casting doubt on Kavanaugh's accusers and may no longer be in the nominee's corner. By CNN's count, Trump has insulted one in five of the GOP senators. How many of them might think that it's a good idea to slow down on Kavanaugh? If just two abandon Kavanaugh, his nomination will be sunk.
The press conference was also a desperate attempt by Trump to somehow protect the Republican Party and its majorities in the United States House and Senate. The GOP in general, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in particular, made a deal with the devil as they embraced the profoundly divisive President in the interest of seeing dreams of a rightward shift in the federal courts fulfilled.
When Trump delivered with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Court, this gamble seemed to pay off. However, now Trump's rhetoric and behavior have alienated so many voters, especially women, that the Republicans seem as if they could get a shellacking in the upcoming election.
The GOP's troubles are linked directly to Trump, who is dogged by so many controversies they almost defy counting. The most important, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russians who meddled in the election, might be cooled if Kavanaugh joins the court.
Though once part of the special prosecutor team that tormented President Bill Clinton, Kavanaugh has now said presidents should not be distracted by the sort of investigations he helped press against Clinton. This position made him a perfect fit for Trump, who is imperiled by a process that could land at the high court. Everything is personal where Trump is concerned -- but with the threat of Mueller's investigation hanging over him, a Supreme Court nomination is doubly so.
Why did he fail to make a solid case on Kavanaugh's behalf, and even confess that he might have his mind changed by what comes out of the Senate hearing tomorrow? (He actually did.) Why did he talk about Elton John? (He did this too.) It's because everything is always about him, even with the future of the court and his party both at stake.
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