Build that Wall!” was the theme of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Along with his supporters’ chants of “Lock Her Up!,” his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border defined his candidacy in 2016.
But now, thanks to Democratic opposition and Republican indifference in Congress, Trump’s wall is crumbling. Despite the President’s grandstanding on television that he would be “proud” to shut down the government unless Congress gave him $5 billion for the wall, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has quietly engineered a plan to keep the government open, and has kicked the debate over funding the wall to the next session of Congress, when Democrats will take control of the House.
That’s a major defeat for Trump.
At the same time that Trump was threatening to shut down the government, his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, the man who led the chants about locking up Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Republican National Convention, faced sentencing from a judge who told Flynn he ought to be locked up for lying to the FBI and failing to disclose that he was representing a foreign government while serving in the White House.
The two stories—the showdown over the $5 billion wall boondoggle and the exposure of dirty dealing by Trump associates, are directly related.
The showdown over the $5 billion wall boondoggle and the exposure of dirty dealing by Trump associates, are directly related.
The closer prosecutors get to Trump, the more energy he puts into running a three-ring circus in Washington, trying to distract the public from the special counsel’s investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia and his former aides’ convictions for crimes they say Trump asked them to commit.
As conservative political scientist Norman Ornstein told The New York Times, “The closer it gets to him, the more he wants a distraction and the more he wants to gin up his base, but from the perspective of Republicans, doing a shutdown while they’re still running everything just makes them look like idiots.”
epublicans are getting fed up with being jerked around by Trump. And they don’t want to be blamed for a government shutdown, which would cost taxpayers millions and, among other negative repercussions, would, ironically, hit Homeland Security particularly hard and force Border Patrol agents to go without pay over the holidays.
Trump took away the Republicans’ chance to pin the looming shutdown on Democrats when he bragged on TV that he was taking responsibility for it.
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Paralyzing government services at Christmas time is risky, and spending billions on the wall is not popular.
Thankfully, Trump’s inflammatory and racist statements about immigrants bringing an epidemic of drugs, crime, and contagious diseases across the border failed to ignite panic in the public at large.
Even House Republicans couldn’t round up the votes for funding the wall in their own caucus. Retiring members, after suffering a wave of Democratic victories, were not motivated to show up and vote before heading out of town.
The judge at Flynn’s sentencing expressed “disgust” and “disdain” for the defendant’s dishonesty and abuse of his office.
Hence McConnell’s last-minute deal to keep the government open, without even the $1.6 billion the Democrats had offered, earlier, for building a bigger wall along the border.
The judge at Flynn’s sentencing hearing expressed his “disgust” and “disdain” for the defendant’s dishonesty and abuse of his office. Even as he delayed Flynn’s sentence, allowing more time for a deal that rewards Flynn’s cooperation against his old boss, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan warned that he couldn’t promise that Flynn wouldn’t face some time behind bars.
Outside the courtroom, detractors chanted “Lock him up!” Flynn supporters chanted “USA! USA!”
But Judge Sullivan, pointing to the American flag behind his desk, told Flynn: “Arguably, you sold your country out.”
The same can be said for Donald Trump. The façade is crumbling. And the public is catching on.