Tawdry, Unverified Report Sinks Trump, Our Country to New Low

I admit it. I thought once the election was over, maybe we’d get a “presidential” Donald Trump and our country would return to respectful political discourse. How naïve I’ve was.

After a campaign that included a Trump defense about the size of his, uh, “Donald,” how much deeper could we sink? We got the answer Wednesday when CNN reported that Trump’s and President Obama’s intelligence briefings include an unsubstantiated section that alleged the Russians have blackmail-able dirt on our president-elect. The details, published by BuzzFeed are as disgusting as they are troubling.

(I refuse to memorialize the tawdry details here. The Hanging Shad will maintain some amount of dignity. But they are in the public domain now so if you’re interested, click the links above.)

Trump categorically denied the reports calling them “fake news” and “a political witch hunt.” He slammed the news media in general and CNN in particular for reporting on the unverified reports. CNN reporter Jim Acosta—a fine reporter with an impeccable reputation—eventually had enough. Here’s the exchange as Acosta tried to question Trump:

It didn’t help Trump’s cause when he cited Russia’s denial of the existence of a dossier on Trump as prove that it’s fake.

Um, Mr. President-elect? Do you think if Russia had this dirt on you they’d tell us?

Ironically, this new Trump controversy could work in his favor. The news cycle will be dominated by his press conference—other issues included naming a Veterans Secretary and how Trump will handle his business empire—to the exclusion of confirmation hearings for Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s plan to bum rush the confirmation hearings so no one nominee dominates a news cycle took a bit of a hit when it was revealed the education secretary nominee and public education hater Betsy DeVos won’t now appear until next week. Mike Pompeo, the pick to lead the CIA is set for Thursday. Apparently Senate leaders can’t be in multiple places at once. Excellent plan, Sen. McConnell, excellent plan.