It’s been a fun few days in the world of U.S. politics!
• On Sunday, Trump’s secretary of defense fired the secretary of the Navy for trying to enforce internal disciplinary measures against SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was convicted at trial earlier this year for bringing “discredit upon the armed forces” by posing for a photo with the corpse of an enemy fighter who died in U.S. custody in Iraq. Gallagher was also accused of himself killing the captive by stabbing him in the neck, but was acquitted after another SEAL testified to having caused the individual’s death by covering his breathing tube after Gallagher stabbed him. Earlier this month Trump formally restored Gallagher’s rank and issued pardons to two other service members accused of unrelated war crimes, one of whom had already been convicted; the Daily Beast reported Monday that Trump has said he wants Gallagher and the two men who were pardoned to help campaign for him in 2020.
• Politico reported Sunday that Trump is “increasingly” spending days in the residence portion of the White House rather than working from the Oval Office. Taken in tandem with the president’s unplanned Nov. 16 hospital visit—which he explained dubiously as an impromptu decision to complete “phase one” of a physical—the news raises the possibility that Trump is suffering from some sort of medical problem, doing even less actual work than usual, and trying to cover it up.
• CBS reported Monday that Caliburn International, a for-profit company that holds federal contracts to operate detention facilities for undocumented children, had booked a holiday party at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. The company’s board of directors includes former Homeland Security secretary and White House chief of staff John Kelly, who helped implement the administration’s family-separation policy. Caliburn made plans to hold the party at a different venue after CBS’s report was published.
• On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted that the U.S. has a legitimate interest in investigating a Trump-endorsed conspiracy theory that holds that the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike shipped a Democratic National Committee server to Ukraine in order to hide evidence that Russia had been framed for attacking the Hillary Clinton campaign. (CrowdStrike is an American company with no ties to Ukraine, and the evidence that Russia hacked into Democratic email accounts was not discovered on a single physical server.)
• On Tuesday night, Trump told a rally crowd in southern Florida that the same people responsible for the purported War on Christmas “want to change the name Thanksgiving,” an accusation he appears to have entirely fabricated after seeing Fox News coverage of a HuffPost article about how to minimize one’s carbon footprint when traveling to meet family and cooking a group meal.
Did I say fun in the first sentence above? What I meant was humiliating, grotesque, and stupid. Have a happy holiday!