Ted Cruz defends Alex Jones’ free speech; praises Trump for having `permanently unmasked the media’

[cmg_anvato video=4455221 autoplay=”true”]

Alex Jones catches Ted Cruz in an elevator in Washington, D.C. after President Trump’s inauguration.

Good Monday Austin:

U.S. Ted Cruz spoke at Erick Erickson’s Resurgent Gathering in Austin on Saturday.

Early on in their conversation, Cruz was interrupted by a protester.

A protestor interrupts U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he is escorted out of the Resurgent Gathering at the Capitol Sheraton, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

From my story in Sunday’s American-Statesman:

Holding up a cardboard sign with the words, “Cruz: Russian bootlicker,” a young man stood and shouted toward the podium, “You’re a coward, Ted. Fight the trade war. Stand up to Russia. Stand up for all Texans.”

As he was being hooted at by the audience and led out of the hall, the young man chanted, “Beto, Beto, Beto,” a reference to Cruz’s Senate campaign rival, Democrat O’Rourke of El Paso.

xxxxx

In his immediate response to the protester’s outburst Saturday, Cruz said, “What you saw there, it’s not about Russia. That young man, bless his heart, couldn’t tell you a thing about Russia — has no idea.”

“He’s just angry, and Russia’s the latest thing they’re screaming,” he said.“That anger, by the way, is dangerous.”

Then Cruz said something that I found troubling.

There’s a rage on the left and it’s being irresponsibly stoked. It’s being stoked by the media. I will say one of the greatest blessings of the Trump presidency is he has finally and I think permanently unmasked the media.

Do you remember when there used to be people who would get on TV and try to argue in a gravelly voice, “There’s no bias in media.” No one even says that any more. They don’t even try it. They are so foaming at the mouth, unhinged. I was with the president a few weeks back, I told him, I said, “Listen, I think you’re greatest friends ironically are the media because they’re so deranged about you, the American people turn on the TV, they see that and say, `If those nuts are that mad, you’ve got to be doing something right’.”

I don’t think this is healthy advice to give President Trump, especially coming from Cruz, who knows firsthand the hurt that Trump’s loose attachment to the truth can cause and how that loose attachment has long been at the core of Trump’s nature.

I understand the political necessity for Cruz to make his political peace with the president, even to become his staunch ally, but I think he would be doing himself, the country and even President Trump a service to not encourage the president’s pernicious presentation of the news media – i.e. Fake News, which is simply any reporting the president doesn’t like – as the enemy of the people.

And I think Ted Cruz is uniquely qualified to provide the president with advice that would be infinitely more useful to the  president – even if the president is unlikely to take the advice and even if offering the advice is unlikely to improve Cruz’s chances of being re-elected.

Then, in the wake of Facebook temporarily suspending Alex Jones’ personal Facebook account, and YouTube taking down his videos and Spotify taking down his podcasts, there was this.

I spent much of last week covering two defamation suits against Jones in Travis County District Court, and Jones, who thrives on adversity, heralded Cruz’s defense of his right to be heard.

In his conversation with Erickson, Cruz decried the ugly state of political discourse.

CRUZ:

It’s not healthy in our culture for these divisions to be as ugly, to be as nasty, to be as hateful as they were. Listen, all of us gathered together when  Obama was president, we disagree with what Obama was doing, but you know, I remember Trump’s inauguration, all the young people with hats and shirts that said, “not my president.”

As much as a I disagreed with Barack Obama, as much as I thought his policies were harmful, he was always my president, every day he served in office he was he president of the United States and I respect the office and the democratic process that elected him. And you see the fever pitch to impeach the president. Listen, as bad as I thought Obama was, I didn’t call for him to be impeached. I wanted him to be defeated in the ballot box.

CRUZ: You know when Trump went to Helsinki and did a press conference with Putin, now I think that press conference was a mistake, I don’t think he handled it well. I think we’ve seen good policies on Russia, I think the sanctions put in place have been a good thing. I think providing lethal weapons to Ukraine to stand up and resist the Russians have been a good thing, but I think that press conference was a mistake, I don’t think the American president ought to be apologizing for Russian aggression.

That being said, the Democratic response to it was thoroughly unhinged. It was most captured by John Brennan who began  bellowing that Trump committed treason. Now Brennan is not just a fly-by-night individual, he is the former head of the CIA,  Treason is a capital crime defined in the United States code and punishable by death. Now having a foolish press conference with the head of Russia is not treason and for the former Democratic officials ratcheting  it up to that rhetoric, listen it contributes to that environment, it is not good for our country, and I’ll tell you, on our part, we have a responsibility not to respond in kind, not to respond with the same anger and hatred back but to instead respond with reason, with facts.

After that, Cruz, typical for him, did a 26-minute gaggle, providing long and detailed answers that suggest that Cruz actually respects the press and its obligations and his obligations, and that perhaps, for the same reason that he has agreed to five debates with O’Rourke, he also out of ego, confidence, delight in intellectual sparring, and genuine commitment to the democratic process, enjoys and embraces these opportunities.

He was asked a question about his concerns with censorship on social media.

CRUZ: I have deep concerns about social media and Big Tech. We have a concentration of  power in a handful of giant tech companies that are controlling a vast proportion of political discourse in this country and these companies have a degree of power and an ability to censor that William Randolph Hearst at the height of yellow journalism could never have imagined.

They have the ability  if there is a speaker who is disfavored simply to silence the speaker, to shadow ban them. You might speak but  your words float off into oblivion and nobody hears them.

And what’s so pernicious about that is it’s invisible. You might never know you’re shadow-banned. You might just think no one seems to be responding to what you’re saying because no one is in fact hearing what you’re saying.

On the flip side, they have the ability to curate your feed so that every piece of news you hear is news they approve of. Every piece of news you  hear conforms with their political ideology.

A couple of months ago, Mark Zuckerberg testified  before the Senate and I engaged in pretty vigorous questioning with Mr. Zuckerberg. The first question I asked him was whether Facebook considers itself a neutral public fora. He didn’t really answer that question and I have asked numerous representatives of Facebook that question. They’ve given multiple and contradictory answers.

The reason that  question matters so much is under current federal law – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – Facebook and other social media companies, have an exemption from liability. And the predicate, the reasoning behind Congress passing that exemption, was that they were neutral public fora, that if someone says something slanderous or libelous that  it wasn’t fair for Facebook or the social media site to be liable for it because it was not their speech, it was whoever was posting.

And so there’s a special exemption from liability.

Well, my question to Zuckerberg was, are you in  fact a neutral public fora. If you are than the reason behind that immunity from liability under the CDA is still sound. If you’re not, if you’re in fact a First Amendment speaker, if you’re engaged in politics, if you’re espousing your views, you have a right to do that, everybody has a First Amendment right, but  you  don’t have an entitlement to a special immunity from liability.

If (Patrick) Svitek (who was part of the gaggle) writes something in the Texas Tribune that is libelous, he can be sued, he doesn’t have an immunity from liability. There’s no reason Facebook or Twitter should get a special immunity that Pat doesn’t get, and that  question is a question that’s got the tech companies very nervous because they like their immunity from liability but at the same time they have demonstrated a pattern of bias that is deeply concerning and one of the most maddening aspects of it is there are actually no clear and objective data.

So I went through a number of anecdotes, examples, where they had silenced conservatives.

Now look, reasoning  by anecdote is not the most reliable way to reason, it’s not the most satisfying way to reason, but  it’s the only choice we have because all of the data are controlled by Facebook and Twitter and Google and YouTube and it’s completely opaque, it’s not remotely transparent, so we don’t know how many people Twitter has shadow-banned, how many conservatives, how many liberals, how many Republicans, how many Democrats. We don’t know. We have no idea.

That lack of transparency is dangerous, particularly when combined with a heavy ideological skew to the left, and I think it poses a real threat to our democracy.

I followed up:

FR: Senator, substituting Alex Jones for Patrick Svitek in that example …

CRUZ: They are very similar.

FR: You  were critical of Facebook, saying, what made them the arbiter. (Alex Jones) has been in court this week defending himself against defamation suits and the argument (his lawyer is making) is he can’t be held liable because he’s not a journalist, what he presents as facts are merely his opinions and are protected. Is there a line there and does Facebook have any responsibility to police it?

CRUZ: Look Alex Jones, I don’t listen to his show. I don’t know what he says. I  do know that he has this odd fixation with spreading lies about my dad and accusing him of killing JFK and I would encourage him while he’s at it, he also buried Jimmy Hoffa in the backyard and is, in fact, Elvis.

Look those theories are nutty, they’re fringe and they’re nutty.

The reason I sent out the tweets I did defending someone whose defamed my own family, is I actually believe in the First Amendment. I believe in the First Amendment. It protects the right of people to be nutty. It protects the right of people to say things that are dumb.

And I think the right solution to bad speech, john Stuart Mill told us the solution to bad speech is more speech. Censorship is profoundly dangerous and it’s wrong. And if Facebook or anyone else thinks that what Alex Jones is saying is wrong, is nutty, the right way to respond to it is lay out, here’s why you’re wrong, to engage it on the merits. It’s not simply to say, we’re banning you from speaking and we, the Star Chamber – mind you, this is one company but it is a company that is the portal of communication for the vast majority of Americans. It is a company with power – by any measure the big tech companies today, they are bigger and control more market than Standard Oil did when the federal government broke them up under the anti-trust laws. They are bigger and have more power than AT&T had when the federal government broke them up under the antitrust laws.

Q – Are you proposing to break them up?

TC: I think it’s an issue that policymakers are looking at seriously. We have existing anti-trust laws that protect against monopolies, and part of the reason is monopolies’ history has shown they abuse their power, and in this instance, I have to say I watched a lot of the Twitter response when I sent out the tweet on Alex Jones. I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of Democrats attacking me. I was sad though to not see any liberals willing to make the same point. And for a long time I’ve wondered what’s happened to real liberals. There was a time not that long ago when liberals defended free speech.

By the way, free speech, the First Amendment is all about offensive speech, bad speech, stupid speech. One of the big First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court out of Skokie, Illinois, was the right  of the Nazis to march in protest. Now Nazis are vile, despicable idiots and bigots, which means I’m not remotely scared to have Nazis protest and speak. Now I think we should speak out and respond to them, that the answer to that kind of stupidity is to counter it with truth, but the Supreme Court rightly said that even Nazis have a right to speak.

When I sent the tweet on Alex Jones it was striking how all – I did not see any liberals saying, “Like Cruz, I don’t like Jones either, but  I do believe in free speech and we shouldn’t be censoring speech we don’t agree with,” and it’s worrisome that the left, so much of the left, and for that matter, so many in the media – look there were reporters who took a lot of shots at me for that.

There used to be a time when reporters were big supporters of the First Amendment. And you know as the poem goes, ‘First they came for Alex Jones…

That doesn’t end well.

There is a reason I have picked someone who has been nasty to me. To illustrate this is not about defending someone I agree with, this is about a First Amendment principle that everyone has a right to speak and the people can sort out those who are making sense from those who are full of crap.

A few things here.

It is fine to say that you are defending Alex Jones’ right to say despicable things not because you agree with him but precisely because you don’t agree with him. Cruz was, in fact, victimized as he says he was by InfoWars.

But it is inconsistent to encourage President Trump in his war on the media when it was in fact Trump, and not Alex Jones, who most publicly said those despicable things about your father, which you denounced in no uncertain terms at the time. Furthermore, what Trump said about your father was a blip on the radar screen of Trump’s dabbling in fake news. His dissertation was the birther movement, which he carried for years based on even less evidence than that grainy photo of Lee Harvey Oswald and some guy purported to be Rafael Cruz in New Orleans and, contrary to Cruz’s assertion that Republicans like himself didn’t ever question whether Obama was “our president,” Trump successfully helped persuade a sizable chunk of Republicans that Obama was not a a bona fide American and was fraudulently elected.

In their approach to news, there is very little daylight at this point between the Alex Jones approach – his lawyer argued in court last week that Jones’ speech is protected because it is simply his opinion, even if it is sometimes “opinion masquerading as fact”- and the Donald Trump approach, and for Cruz to denounce Jones while defending his First Amendment rights, seems inconsistent with encouraging Trump’s Jones-like devotion to conspiracy theories – only in the president’s case there seems even less reason to believe he pursues them for anything but politically transactional reasons and the stakes are immensely higher.

I doubt that President Trump ever doubted that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii or ever thought, or cared, whether Rafael Cruz was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Cruz’s JFK/Jimmy Hoffa/Elvis comment Saturday was verbatim what he said when the accusation about his father went national, not because of anything Alex Jones said or did, but because of what Donald Trump said and did on the day of the crucial Indiana primary that ended Cruz’s challenge to Trump.

From May 3, 2016, the day of the Indiana primary.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning, Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father.

Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Now, let’s be clear. This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky. And while I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.

You know, Donald’s source for this is “The National Enquirer.” “The National Enquirer” is tabloid trash. But it’s run by his good friend David Pecker, the CEO, who has endorsed Donald Trump. And so “The National Enquirer” has become his hit piece that he uses to smear anybody and everybody.

And this is not the first time Donald Trump has used David Pecker’s “National Enquirer” to go after my family. It was also “The National Enquirer” that went after my wife, Heidi, that just spread lies, blatant lies.

But I guess Donald was dismayed, because it was a couple of weeks ago “The Enquirer” wrote this idiotic story about JFK. And Donald was dismayed that the folks in the media weren’t repeating this latest idiocy, so he figured he would have to do it himself. He would have to go on national television and accuse my dad of that.

Listen, my father is has been my hero my whole life. My dad was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. And when he came to America, he had nothing. He had $100 in his underwear. He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour. You know, he is exactly the kind of person Donald Trump looks down on.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign. For those of you all who have traveled with me all across the country, I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.

This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying. And it’s simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist, a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.

Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, dude, what’s your problem? Everything in Donald’s world is about Donald. And he combines being a pathological liar — and I say pathological because I actually think Donald, if you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon, and one thing in the evening, all contradictory, and he would pass the lie detector test each time.

Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute, he believes it. But the man is utterly amoral.

And Trump didn’t let it rest.

The day after the Republican National Convention in July 2017, at which Cruz refused to endorse Trump, Trump revisited the  issue.

Is it true that Cruz didn’t deny that his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination?

Well, according to Politi-Opinion, err PolitiFact, no.

From Dylan Baddour at PolitiFact on July 22,2016:

Donald Trump, fresh off triumphantly accepting the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, surprisingly revived an explosive unfounded tale related to someone with no chance of beating him in November.

The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

At a rally, Trump initially told supporters he doesn’t want the backing of Cruz, whose convention speech two days earlier drew boos for not including a Trump endorsement; the Texan did offer congratulations. Next, Trump resurrected his unconfirmed claim about Oswald and Rafael Cruz, the senator’s father, possibly knowing one another.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

In May 2016, PolitiFact found incorrect and ridiculous–Pants on Fire–Trump’s claim that Cruz’s father was with Oswald before Kennedy’s assassination.

There was no evidence the man next to Oswald in the black-and-white photo published in the Enquirer was the elder Cruz. Notably, facial recognition experts advised that no such match could be made; meantime, historians found no corroborating records. The Enquirer never said how it determined the man in the photo with Oswald was Rafael Cruz.

Could it still be that Sen. Cruz never denied his father was in the photo?

To our inquiry on this point, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier pointed out a statement the Cruz campaign gave to the McClatchy News Service in April 2016 at the time the photo in question was printed on the Enquirer’s cover.  

The Cruz campaign’s communications director, Alice Stewart, said then: “The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture,”according to the Miami Herald’s April 22, 2016 news story.

Stewart’s “not Rafael” declaration appears to have gotten play. We found it in stories or web posts on the McClatchy website and for the conservative web network The Blaze plus in the International Business Times, on the FactCheck.org fact-checking site and on sites for Yahoo! News, The Hill, Gawker, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Trump first cited the Enquirer article during a May 3, 2016, telephone interview with the Fox News program, Fox and Friends. Later that day, at an Indiana campaign event, Cruz spoke to reporters, saying: “This morning Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Let’s be clear, this is nuts. This is not a reasonable position, this is just kooky.”

Cruz said the Enquirer “just spread lies, blatant lies” and described the article as “this idiotic story about JFK.”

Also,  on May 3, 2016, Ben Jacobs, political reporter for the Guardian, tweeted a statement regarding the claim that Jacobs generally attributed to the Cruz campaign. It said: “It’s embarrassing that anyone would enable Trump to discuss this. It’s a garbage story and clearly Donald wants to talk about garbage.”

The same day, Rafael Cruz told ABC News in a TV interview that the links insinuated between him and Oswald were “ludicrous.”

“I was never in New Orleans at that time,” he said.

Our ruling

Trump said the day after the Republican convention that Cruz “never denied” his father was pictured with Oswald before Kennedy’s assassination.

This spring, Cruz called the National Enquirer story “lies.”  Earlier, a Cruz camp spokeswoman said outright the elder Cruz wasn’t in the published photo.

That’s far enough from “never denied,” it makes Trump’s claim incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

For what it’s worth, PolitiFact had also offered a negative judgment on the original claim linking Rafael Cruz and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Of course, that’s just PolitiFact’s opinion. It’s a circumstantial case built on reasonable assumptions.

But, to InfoWars, that’s fake news.

From October 26, 2017, via InfoWarrior/Alex Jones political guru/ Trump’s political brain, Roger Stone:

Of course, Cruz and Trump eventually reconciled, which Jones celebrated when he ran into Cruz in an elevator after the inauguration.

In the meantime, Big Tech continues its assault on Alex Jones.

Which will give Cruz more reason to press his, “I don’t like what Alex Jones says but I will fight to the death defending his right to say it,” which will be well good enough for Jones, who will tout Cruz’s stout defense of him against the Big Tech/Deep State to his legion of listeners who in 2016 proved they could help elect a president,and in 2018 could help re-elect a Texas senator.

 

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to supporters during the Resurgent Gathering at the Capitol Sheraton, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

 

 

 

 

 

Roger Stone and Alex Jones warn of attempt to remove Trump claiming he has Alzheimer’s

Good morning Austin:

Yesterday, in the dark of night, out on Second Street, in front of the Corner Restaurant and Bar at the JW Marriott Hotel, Alex Jones and Roger Stone made a 15-minute video in which they warned that there will be a bipartisan move to remove President Donald Trump from office under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution claiming that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Here is Stone:

First of all, a disclaimer. They are going to say this is a “conspiracy theory,” but it is the Stone Cold Truth.

They are going to claim that Donald Trump has Alzheimer’s and that it is progressive and that is the source of his insanity.

I have talked to the president fairly recently. He is as sharp as a tack. There is no evidence of any deterioration in his thought process. This is completely bogus, but under the 25th Amendment, if a majority of the Cabinet, plus the vice president, agree that the president is incapacitated, well then, he is removed, and if he seeks to fight the charges, it goes to the U.S. House of Representatives where erosion among Republicans could destroy the Trump presidency.

Here is the full video.

I will further break down what Stone and Jones had to say below, but first a little background about why I find this report worth paying attention to.

Alex Jones may or may not have a close relationship with Donald Trump, though, as he recently related, President-elect Trump did call him on his honeymoon with his second wife.

But Roger Stone’s relationship with Trump is, in the political sphere, as close and enduring as anyone on the planet, and, it just so happened, I watched last night’s Stone-Jones video after watching the sensational new Netflix documentary, Get Me Roger Stone, which, with testimony from Donald Trump on down, makes plain that no one, save Trump himself, deserves more credit for the fact that Tump is president than Roger Stone, who had been plotting Trump’s political ascension for decades.

Also, talk of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump has been in vogue of late, and is certain to blow up in the aftermath of yesterday’s story from Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe in the Washington Post: Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador.

From the New York Times’ Ross Douthat on Sunday:

Childish behavior can still lead to abuses of power, of which the Comey firing will not be the last. But liberals need to accept that the strongest case for removing Trump from office is likely to remain a 25th Amendment case: not high crimes and misdemeanors, not collusion with the Russians, but a basic mental unfitness for the office that manifests itself in made-for-TV crises and self-inflicted wounds.

And since a 25th Amendment solution would require Republican leaders, beginning with Mike Pence, to not only go along with his removal but take the lead in instigating it, it’s about as realistic as was the idea that those same leaders would somehow intervene against Trump at the Republican convention. Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell — these men made their peace with Trump’s unfitness long ago. It will take more than further proof of that unfitness to make them move against him now.

Here is the 25th Amendment:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

From Vox:

 The amendment states that if, for whatever reason, the vice president and a majority of sitting Cabinet secretaries decide that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” they can simply put that down in writing and send it to two people — the speaker of the House and the Senate’s president pro tem.

 Then the vice president would immediately become “Acting President,” and take over all the president’s powers.
 Let that sink in — one vice president and any eight Cabinet officers can, theoretically, decide to knock the president out of power at any time.

If the president wants to dispute this move, he can, but then it would be up to Congress to settle the matter with a vote. A two-thirds majority in both houses would be necessary to keep the vice president in charge. If that threshold isn’t reached, the president would regain his powers.

 Section 4 of the 25th Amendment has never been invoked in reality, though it’s a staple of thriller fiction. But there’s been a sudden surge of interest in it in recent months, as reports of Donald Trump’s bizarre behavior behind closed doors have been piling up, and there is increasingly unsubtle speculation in Washington about the health of the president’s mind.

Whatever the current circumstances, an enormous amount rests on any president of the United States’ physical and mental health. The 25th Amendment exists as a failsafe that can be used if any president truly does appear to be unwell — as long as the people involved have the courage to actually go through with it, and the competence to carry it out without causing an even greater disaster.

And then this from Evan Osnos in the May 8 New Yorker, How Trump Could Get Fired. The Constitution offers two main paths for removing a President from office. How feasible are they?

Mental-health professionals have largely kept out of politics since 1964, when the magazine Fact asked psychiatrists if they thought Barry Goldwater was psychologically fit to be President. More than a thousand said that he wasn’t, calling him “warped,” “impulsive,” and a “paranoid schizophrenic.” Goldwater sued for libel, successfully, and, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association added to its code of ethics the so-called “Goldwater rule,” which forbade making a diagnosis without an in-person examination and without receiving permission to discuss the findings publicly. Professional associations for psychologists, social workers, and others followed suit. With regard to Trump, however, the rule has been broken repeatedly. More than fifty thousand mental-health professionals have signed a petition stating that Trump is “too seriously mentally ill to perform the duties of president and should be removed” under the Twenty-fifth Amendment.

Lance Dodes, a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, believes that, in this instance, the Goldwater rule is outweighed by another ethical commitment: a “duty to warn” others when he assesses that a person might harm them. Dodes told me, “Trump is going to face challenges from people who are not going to bend to his will. If you have a President who takes it as a personal attack on him, which he does, and flies into a paranoid rage, that’s how you start a war.”

Like many of his colleagues, Dodes speculates that Trump fits the description of someone with malignant narcissism, which is characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, sadism, and a tendency toward unrealistic fantasies. On February 13th, in a letter to the Times, Dodes and thirty-four other mental-health professionals wrote, “We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer.” In response, Allen Frances, a professor emeritus at Duke University Medical College, who wrote the section on narcissistic personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—IV, sought to discourage the public diagnoses. Frances wrote, “He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder. . . . The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.”

To some mental-health professionals, the debate over diagnoses and the Goldwater rule distracts from a larger point. “This issue is not whether Donald Trump is mentally ill but whether he’s dangerous,” James Gilligan, a professor of psychiatry at New York University, told attendees at a recent public meeting at Yale School of Medicine on the topic of Trump’s mental health. “He publicly boasts of violence and has threatened violence. He has urged followers to beat up protesters. He approves of torture. He has boasted of his ability to commit and get away with sexual assault,” Gilligan said.

Bruce Blair, a research scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security, at Princeton, told me that if Trump were an officer in the Air Force, with any connection to nuclear weapons, he would need to pass the Personnel Reliability Program, which includes thirty-seven questions about financial history, emotional volatility, and physical health. (Question No. 28: Do you often lose your temper?) “There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump would never pass muster,” Blair, who was a ballistic-missile launch-control officer in the Army, told me. “Any of us that had our hands anywhere near nuclear weapons had to pass the system. If you were having any arguments, or were in financial trouble, that was a problem. For all we know, Trump is on the brink of that, but the President is exempt from everything.”

In the months since Trump took office, several members of Congress have cited concern about his mental health as a reason to change the law. In early April, Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and a professor of constitutional law at American University, and twenty co-sponsors introduced a bill that would expand the authority of medical personnel and former senior officials to assess the mental fitness of a President. The bill has no chance of coming up for a vote anytime soon, but its sponsors believe that they have a constitutional duty to convene a body to assess Trump’s health. Representative Earl Blumenauer, of Oregon, introduced a similar bill, which would also give former Presidents and Vice-Presidents a voice in evaluating a President’s mental stability. Of Trump, he said, “The serial repetition of proven falsehoods—Is this an act? Is this a tactic? Is he just wired weird? It raises the question in my mind about the nature of Presidential disability.”

Over the years, the use, or misuse, of the Twenty-fifth Amendment has been irresistible to novelists and screenwriters, but political observers dismiss the idea. Jeff Greenfield, of CNN, has described the notion that Trump could be ousted on the basis of mental health as a “liberal fantasy.” Not everyone agrees. Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard, told me, “I believe that invoking Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment is no fantasy but an entirely plausible tool—not immediately, but well before 2020.” In Tribe’s interpretation, the standard of the amendment is not “a medical or otherwise technical one but is one resting on a commonsense understanding of what it means for a President to be ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’—an inability that can obviously be manifested by gross and pathological inattention or indifference to, or failure to understand, the limits of those powers or the mandatory nature of those duties.”

As an example of “pathological inattention,” Tribe noted that, on April 11th, days after North Korea launched a missile, Trump described an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, as part of an “armada” advancing on North Korea, even though the ship was sailing away from North Korea at the time. Moreover, Tribe said, Trump’s language borders on incapacity. Asked recently why he reversed a pledge to brand China a currency manipulator, Trump said, of President Xi Jinping, “No. 1, he’s not, since my time. You know, very specific formula. You would think it’s like generalities, it’s not. They have—they’ve actually—their currency’s gone up. So it’s a very, very specific formula.”

Lawrence C. Mohr, who became a White House physician in 1987 and remained in the job until 1993, came to believe that Presidential disability must be understood to encompass “very subtle manifestations” that might impair the President’s capacity to do the job. A President should be evaluated for “alertness, cognitive function, judgment, appropriate behavior, the ability to choose among options and the ability to communicate clearly,” Mohr told a researcher in 2010. “If any of these are impaired, it is my opinion that the powers of the President should be transferred to the Vice-President until the impairment resolves.”

In practice, however, unless the President were unconscious, the public could see the use of the amendment as a constitutional coup. Measuring deterioration over time would be difficult in Trump’s case, given that his “judgment” and “ability to communicate clearly” were, in the view of many Americans, impaired before he took office. For those reasons, Robert Gilbert, the Presidential-health specialist, told me, “If the statements get too strange, then the Vice-President might be able to do something. But if the President is just being himself—talking in the same way that he talked during the campaign—then the Vice-President and the Cabinet would find it very difficult.”

With that as background, let’s return to what Jones and Stone, who is in Austin through Wednesday and appeared in person Jones’ show Infowars. Stone makes frequent appearances on Infowars, usually remotely, but he was in Austin for most of a week during Jones’ recent child custody trial and did some filling in for him them.

He has described Jones and his vast audience as “Trump’s secret weapon” in the 2016 election.

Here they are on the corner of Second and Congress, Alex Jones amid passing cars, pedestrians, a bicycle, and one shouted epithet from a passing car.

 

AJ:

Alex Jones here on a Monday night with breaking intel. We’ve been researching this for a while. We have our sources inside the Pentagon, inside the CIA, inside the White House. I’m here with Roger Stone right now.

We’re working late into the evening on this situation because it’s so fast-moving. You’ve seen McMaster come out and say there were no leaks inside the Russian meeting with Trump when he’s probably the leaker, and we broke that down earlier in another video.

You’ve got the entire deep state that’s hijacked America panicking that the American people actually elected somebody who is trying to be president.

Now we knew about this three months ago when I broke the story of the planning, or pushing a COG (Continuity of Government) program to use the deep state to overthrow the president. That’s now admitted. The New Yorker magazine and others are saying that they now have members of the House, the Senate, Republicans, Democrats and members of Trump’s inner circle and Cabinet saying he’s mentally ill and under the 25th Amendment, they want to remove him from office.

What is he is stalwart, strong, on point, $3 trillion in the stock market, $300 million in new jobs and killing TPP and a conservative on the Supreme Court. He’s bad because he won’t roll over. He’s “mentally ill” because he won’t be influenced by a bunch of traitors and followers, because he’s a leader.

Is he perfect? Hell no. I mean I do a good job 60, 70 percent of the time. Trump is 90 percent of the time. So this is an amazing time to be alive. Roger Stone has talked to his sources, he concurs with my analysis, and he has the sources, that Trump is in great danger of overthrow right now, and they’re moving forward on many fronts right now. So here is the plan to overthrow the president, by the globalists, in a bipartisan act of treason.

Roger Stone.

RS:

First of all, a disclaimer. They are going to say this is a “conspiracy theory,” but it is the Stone Cold Truth.

They are going to claim that Donald Trump has Alzheimer’s and that it is progressive and that is the source of his insanity.

I have talked to the president fairly recently. He is as sharp as a tack. There is no evidence of any deterioration in his thought process. This is completely bogus, but under the 25th Amendment, if a majority of the Cabinet, plus the vice president, agree that the president is incapacitated, well then, he is removed, and if he seeks to fight the charges, it goes to the U.S. House of Representatives where erosion among Republicans could destroy the Trump presidency.

That’s bogus. They could not beat him at the ballot box. So now they seek to remove him by claiming that he’s insane.

Look at his record on the economy. Look at his appointment to the Supreme Court. Look at the way he has the Chinese doing our dirty work in North Korea and you’ll see he’s not crazy, he’s a genius.

 

AJ:

If that’s insane, we need more of it.

RS:

But this is the game plan. Watch carefully. You are going to see the word Alzheimer’s more and more in the next several days. I’ve even been tipped off by leftists about this, that this is the game plan. You heard it first at Infowars.com.

AJ:

To be clear, we’ve seen the spin. Oh, 200 psychologists or psychiatrists say he’s crazy, violating the Goldwater rule, which we can talk about in a minute for history. The guy who woke me even though he was retired by the time I read it.  Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.

They know their psychiatry’s been discredited by all their political activity. And so now they’re shifting to “Oh, the Alzheimer’s,” even though Trump’s climbing up hills, playing gold, super smart, working 20 hours a day, has more stamina than I have at 43. They are still going to try to sell this hoax. Well people say, “but we won’t buy into it.” It doesn’t matter. The are so crazed, they are so scared.

Speak to that, and why is the elite so obsessed and so crazed, wanting to take Trump down?

He’s not perfect. I love to criticize him. I mean I’m not wedded to Trump. But the enemies of America, the globalists, hate him, like he’s high noon to vampires. Why?

RS:

Because for 30 years the two-power duopoly, the Bushes, the Clintons and the Obamas, they’re not going to relinquish power easily.

Even today, inside the Trump administration, 80 percent of the people employed at the highest levels of government, were appointed by and are loyal to Barack Obama. that’s largely because the president’s chief of staff has not been able to build a government by telling the Cabinet officers, half of whom I believe are disloyal to this president, who they must hire.

So you have situation in which you have the idea that 200 psychiatrists, who have never examined the president, and therefore no opinion they have would be valid, that didn’t work, so now we are going to claim that he has the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.

Folks, it’s a fraud. They want to remove Donald Trump because he cannot be bullied, and he cannot be bought.

AJ:

And they call that mental, they call that mental illness. Not being bullied. And people that are anti-establishment, they still buy into this in some giant hoax, brainwashed program.

What can we as the people do to expose the Republican establishment, to expose the Democratic establishment?

RS:

They have made a giant mistake. They have pushed Donald Trump too far. And you push Donald Trump into a corner and you are going to get a snarling tiger.

This guy is a fighter and he has give up a fabulous lifestyle. He has sacrificed a great deal to take this job. He is separated from his family. He is living in Washington when he prefers New York. He has given up his golf game by and large. He is putting in hours I never expected, and I’ve known him for 40 years. He is resilient, he is tough, he is optimistic,

Crazy? No, he’s not crazy. He’s resolved. He is resolved to make this country great again and these attacks on him, in all honesty, will make him stronger, and more resilient.

RS:

I think McMaster is fingered as the leaker He was on his way out. This was a desperate attempt to save his job, but I think the president will see through it.

 

AJ:

The Cucks. They’re making jokes about the media attacking me and  my family, stuff that was three years old. I’m remarried. I have more children. I’m happier than ever. My original children are awesome.

We’re winning, winning. My audience under the globalist attack, it took 20 years to get to 40 million a week, and now it’s like 60, 70 million a week, but see the attack on Infowars is for cucks, cowards and fools, to see us getting attacked by MSM, they think, “Oh my God, if I”m for freedom, if I’m for America and I’m for Second Amendment, I’m for private property, I’ll get attacked.”

The attack only makes me bigger. I live in a real universe. The enemy knows that. They do it to make you feel like a loser if you join us in victory, so it’s a Psy Op on you. Do you understand? We’ve gotten bigger and stronger under the attack.

We’ve got big professional studios, giant cameras, all the crap, we’re doing this real because that’s what awake people do, and our awake audience, goes, “Alex, why do you talk to the cucks, why do you talk the zombies, why do you talk to the folks who are in their mom’s basements?” Because they’re the prodigal sons. Read that parable. I care about them as I care about you. You’re already awake. We love you even more. I’m with you. We’re brothers, we’re sisters. but it is the little pathetic cucks we’ve got to reach out to and show them they’ve been lied to.

 

RS- They can’t get over the fact that there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Donald Trump.

RS:

Victory or Death.

AJ:

Victory or death, as Col. Travis said.

We’ll see how this unfolds, but Morning Joe this morning sounded like they were preparing for the intervention, that President Trump’s revealing top secret information while yukking it up with the Russians the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey was the final proof that the president was of a dangerously unsound mind.

“Here’s the problem,” said Joe Scarborough. “The arc of this narrative keeps getting worse. People on the inside say he keeps getting worse. and mentally keeps getting worse.”

“This is a man in decline.”

“This is a man who cannot be stopped,” said co-host  Mika Brzezinski. “He is not well.”

“It’s like he’s driving a runaway train and the American people are the passengers.”

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

`Big John’ Cornyn would be crazy to take the FBI job. I say, `Go for it.’

 

Good morning Austin:

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn was one of eight people interviewed Saturday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be President Donald Trump’s choice to replace James Comey as FBI director.

Comey was fired for – well you name it:

  • Failure to bring charges last summer against Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails
  • Failure to stop investigating whether there was Russia interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump — and potential complicity by the Trump campaign.
  • Failure to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump, president of the United States.
  • Telling Congress, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election.” (I mean seriously, who says that about their boss and expects to keep their job.)
  • Being a six-foot-eight showboat and grandstander.

Having fired the head of the FBI, the rules of reality TV recommend a competition to replace him. Announce potential candidates, interview them, and give the public a chance to cheer and hiss, before making a selection.

I’m surprised that Cornyn ended up on Trump’s list, and I’m even more surprised he would be interested in the job. Maybe he’s not. Maybe he just calculated that the smarter and more respectful course was to play it out, go through the process, but without any intention of winning the competition.

What Cornyn may have going for him with Trump is that he has, as has been observed, a looks-the-part quality, whether it’s being a judge, a senator or, why not, FBI director.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

From the intro to a Q-and-A Texas Monthly’s Jake Silverstein conducted with Cornyn in 2010, headlined, the Gentleman from Texas:

Tall and white-haired, with the bearing of the state Supreme Court justice he once was, Cornyn has become a go-to television Republican, appearing regularly on the news programs to dispense his particular style of Concerned Conservatism. Even railing against the Obama administration, Cornyn never seems angry; he only seems . . . concerned. He has a habit of flexing his forehead while speaking, drawing together his eyebrows in an expression of gentle worry that gives everything he says a vague air of condolence, as if he’s just come from a funeral. In an era of tea party rage, he has found a niche as the kindly face of the Republican brand.

Three years earlier, in a 2007 Texas Monthly piece – Big Red – toward the end of Cornyn’s first term, Paul Burka wrote:

If you were to encounter John Cornyn at, say, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a place where you might reasonably expect to see notable folk, you would immediately think to yourself, “That man is a United States senator.” Indeed, shortly after his election in 2002, USA Today described him as “a casting director’s dream.” He stands six feet four inches tall in the black custom boots he wears to work every day. As a young man, he was so self-conscious about his prematurely white hair that he waited until he turned 32 before filing for district judge in San Antonio, as if an additional year would have made a difference, but today it gives him a veneer of statesmanship. You can’t help but notice the size of his head: It’s quite long and rather narrow, an impression enhanced by a receding hairline. He has a soft face that does not tense up in anger. Even when his words are sharp, his voice is muted and nonthreatening. You would come away from your airport encounter with the feeling that he’s someone to be reckoned with.

Burka noted in that profile, that, after one of Cornyn’s notable forays into right-wing politics, Jon Stewart  remarked on the Daily Show, “What an absolutely handsome crazy person”

But, for the last five years, Cornyn has appeared the soul of moderation, simply by standing next to his junior colleague, Ted Cruz.

Still, if Cornyn actually wants to close the deal with Trump, he could really use a nickname.

Trump likes nicknames, both negative — Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary — and positive. For example, I doubt that James Mattis would be secretary of defense were it not for his nickname, Mad Dog. It appears that Mattis is anything but a Mad Dog, which is good, but we nonetheless can thank the misnomer for getting him where is today.

But I’m not sure if Cornyn, who as far as I can tell is a man of reasonably even disposition and respectable habits, has any good nicknames, except maybe Big John, or, I suppose, Big Bad John.

(George W. Bush, a nicknamer with a more gentle humor than D.J. Trump, called Cornyn Corndog, not as good as Pootie-Poot for Putin, Turd Blossom for Karl Rove, or Quasimodo for Dick Cheney.)

If anybody does call Cornyn Big John  — and I don’t know that anybody does — it would be because of a memorable video from Cornyn’s 2008 re-election campaign

 

My favorite stanza:

We’ll call folk, we’ll hustle, we’ll outwork our foe.

We’ll tell souls in Texas you must get six mo’.

But that place out yonder needs more men like you.

Who shoot straight, and talk straight and enjoy a good brew.

At the time, Jon Stewart did a parody ad for a fake rival candidate, Joey Bernstein, aka Big Jew.

He’s a big city boy from an Ivy League school who thinks tofu is tasty and veal is cruel.

His Friday Night Lights are a candle or two.

But lest it be forgotten, in the original Jimmy Dean song, Big Bad John is buried alive in a mining disaster.

With jacks and timbers they started back down
Then came that rumble way down in the ground
And then smoke and gas belched out of that mine
Everybody knew it was the end of the line for big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)

Now, they never reopened that worthless pit
They just placed a marble stand in front of it
These few words are written on that stand
At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man
Big John
(Big John, big John)
Big bad John (big John)
(Big John) big bad John

To be honest, I can’t imagine a Cornyn tenure as FBI director, ending much better.

I think there are only two ways it ends, and in either outcome, Cornyn is an object of hate and scorn by a big chunk of the American people, as either Trump’s chump and patsy, or as a Republican Judas.

Either he agrees with Trump that there is nothing to this Russia investigation and calls a halt to it or completes it with a finding exonerating Trump and his campaign, or he pursues an investigation that cripples the Trump presidency.

He simply can’t win and I think he would be crazy to accept the position.

So, having said all that, why am I suggesting that Cornyn take the job if it is offered?

Because I think any patriotic American ought to put nation above self and answer the call of duty?

No, because, as I said, I can’t see Cornyn or anyone leading the FBI at this moment and in this situation in a manner that will bind the nation.

No, I think he should go for it out of the purest self-interest – my own.

Because, if John Cornyn left his U.S. Senate seat to lead he FBI, it would turn 2017 from an off-year, to the best election year ever.

Gov. Greg Abbott would get to appoint a temporary successor to Cornyn, who would serve until the November general election, when all candidates of all parties would compete to serve the remainder of Cornyn’s term. If no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote, there would be a runoff.

One tweet hints at just how good this could be.

Yes!

When Cornyn was up for re-election in 2014 there was some free-floating Cruzian energy looking for a primary challenger for Cornyn. David Barton thought about it but passed. At the time, I suggested to Stickland that he should go for it and even offered him what I thought was, at that moment in time, an ingenious slogan: STICK WITH CRUZ.

Didn’t happen, but that was during Stickland’s first session.

Now in his third session, I think we can all agree he has outgrown the puny stage of the Texas House.

On Friday, Asher Price looked at a few potential names of people Abbott might appoint — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and Roger Williams, both of Austin, Land Commissioner George P. Bush and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman — but Patrick has since reiterated that he is only interested in running for re-election as lieutenant governor.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso is already running to challenge Cruz, who is up in 2018, but if Cornyn’s seat were up, he could first run for that and still run against Cruz if he doesn’t win. Alternatively, he could stick to running against Cruz, and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, who passed on running in 2018 at least in part because he would have had to surrender his House seat to do it, could run to serve the rest of Cornyn’s term without risking his House seat.

Great stuff.

But I am not getting my hopes up that any of this will come to pass, Marco Rubio’s encouragement notwithstanding.

Rubio.

The high point of Rubio’s campaign was that time he went all Trump on Trump and suggested at a Dallas rally that Trump might have wet his pants at a debate the night before.

But Trump, at a subsequent rally in Fort Worth, came back with his Rubio water bottle mime, and Little Marco was through.

And now?

Let’s look at Rubio’s Trump Score – a measure designed by FiveThirtyEight.

Here is an explanation of how the Trump Score is calculated:

Donald Trump has Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress — it’s the first time since Barack Obama’s first two years in office that the same party has controlled the U.S. Senate, the House and the White House. Trump’s ability to enact his policies, therefore, will largely come down to how often GOP senators and representatives buck the president’s agenda and, conversely, how often Democrats work with him. To help keep up with this, we’ll be tracking how often members agree with Trump and how that compares with expectations.

We’ll be using two primary measures for each member of Congress: the “Trump score” and “Trump plus-minus.”

The Trump score is a simple percentage showing how often a senator or representative supports Trump’s positions. To calculate it, we add the member’s “yes” votes on bills that Trump supported and his or her “no” votes on bills that Trump opposed and then divide that by the total number of bills the member has voted on for which we know Trump’s position.

We’ve set a few ground rules for how we’re planning to count things:

  • To determine Trump’s position on bills and joint resolutions,1 we’ll look for a clear statement of support or opposition made by him or by someone on his behalf. We’ll generally stick to bills themselves, but we may include amendments when Trump makes a statement about them.2
  • If there’s a Senate vote requiring Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie and we don’t know Trump’s position on it, we’ll assume that Trump supports it if Pence votes “yes” and opposes it if Pence votes “no.”
  • Votes in favor of Trump’s Cabinet-level and Supreme Court nominations count as votes in support of him.
  • We’ll count any veto-override votes as bills that Trump opposes.

We’re also calculating a metric that we’re calling plus-minus. Plus-minus measures how frequently a member agrees with Trump compared with how frequently we would expect the member to, based on Trump’s 2016 vote margin in the member’s state or district. (The “predicted score” is calculated based on probit regression.) Put simply, we would expect a member in a district where Trump did well to be more in sync with him than a member in a district where Trump did poorly. As members vote on more bills, their predicted agreement score will change.

Here is Conyn’s Trump Score.

 

I don’t know how much the Trump Score tells you.

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, another former Trump primary rival, has the lowest Trump Score of any Republican.

And here’s another former rival’s Trump Score.

But the score doesn’t measure how often a senator says or does things to contradict or resist Trump beyond Senate votes, where Graham obviously rates higher than most others.

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Graham also shot down the idea of a Cornyn appointment.

CHUCK TODD:

While we’re staying on the FBI director, eight people interviewed yesterday. One of them is a colleague of yours, Sen. John Cornyn. Two were women, could be the first woman to ever head the FBI. You’ve got a former FBI agent and then a former member of Congress. Let me ask you this – in this political environment, do you think it is the right time to have the first ever FBI director with an elected political background, which is what it would be if either Mike Rogers or John Cornyn were named.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM:

No. I think it’s now time to pick someone who comes from within the ranks or has such a reputation that has no political background at all that can go into the job on day one. You know who does the FBI director work for? To me, it’s like appointing a judge. The president actually appoints the judge, but the judge is loyal to the law. The president appoints the FBI director, but the FBI director has to be loyal to the law. John Cornyn under normal circumstances would be a superb choice to be FBI director. But these are not normal circumstances. We got a chance to reset here as a nation. The president has a chance to clean up the mess that he mostly created. He really I think did his staff a disservice by changing the explanation. So I would encourage the president to pick somebody we can all rally around, including those who work in the FBI.

Todd got a similar response from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

CHUCK TODD:

There’s eight candidates that were interviewed yesterday, two of them have an electoral background, a sitting senator in John Cornyn and a former member of Congress. Some have bipartisan backgrounds like a Fran Townsend served in both the Clinton and Bush administration. Anybody jump out as a favorite of yours or somebody that you could foresee supporting?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER:

You know I’ve generally made it a practice, Chuck, of not commenting on nominees publicly. Let’s see who they nominate. But I, as I said, certainly somebody not of a partisan background. Certainly somebody of great experience and certainly somebody of courage.

If Cornyn were selected, we would see a lot of replays of his recent encounter with Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general fired by Trump.

The most basic problem for Cornyn, or any of the other candidates to be FBI director, is how one could possibly come to an understanding with Trump about the job amid, as Peggy Noonan put it on Face the Nation, “all the chaos, like the bag of chaos that Donald Trump carries with him every day and everywhere, that is self-destructive for him and self-sabotaging, I think.”

From Ross Douthat in Sunday’s New York Times:

THROUGHOUT the 2016 primary season, two sentiments took turns reassuring Republicans as they watched Donald Trump’s strange ascent:

At some point, Trump will start behaving normally.

If he doesn’t, he’ll self-destruct or quit — or else somebody in authority will figure out a way to jettison him.

It isn’t surprising that people once believed these things; I clung to the second sentiment myself.

What is surprising is that after everything that’s happened, so many people believe them even now.

The reaction to the sacking of James Comey is the latest illustration. Far too many observers, left and right, persist in being surprised at Trump when nothing about his conduct is surprising, persist in looking for rationality where none is to be found, and persist in believing that some institutional force — party elders or convention delegates, the deep state or an impeachment process — is likely to push him off the stage.

Start with the president’s Republican defenders. Not the cynics and liars, but the well-meaning conservatives who look at something like the Comey firing and assume that there must be a normal method at work, who listen to whatever narrative White House aides spin out and try to take it seriously.

In this case this meant saying, well, there was always a reasonable case for firing Comey over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the president was just following his deputy attorney general’s advice, and anyway it would be simply nuts to fire someone out of pique while they were investigating your campaign’s ties to a foreign power, because that would just bring more attention to the investigation, so surely not even Trump would be that crazy, right?

This last remark was not exactly the admission of obstruction of justice that liberals quickly claimed, since Trump immediately added that he accepted that firing Comey could lead to a longer investigation, which he wanted “to be absolutely done properly.”

It was, instead, a window into an essentially sub-rational and self-sabotaging mind (as were the tweets that swiftly followed), whose obsessions make it impossible for Trump not to act on impulse, whose grievances constantly override the public interest and political self-interest both.

But it was not a new window: This same self-destructiveness was evident at every turn in the campaign. So the only mystery is why otherwise-rational Republicans persist in hoping for anything save chaos from a man who celebrated clinching the nomination by accusing his rival’s father of having had a hand in killing J.F.K.

Right.

And how can Republicans hope to engage in an effective program of behavior modification with their president, when that rival, whose father he suggested “had a hand in killing J.F.K.,” is now an unselfconscious cheerleader and enabler for Trump.

Here was Ted Cruz last May.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign. For those of you all who have traveled with me all across the country, I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.

This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying. And it’s simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist, a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.

Think about the next five years: the boasting, the lying, the picking up the National Enquirer and accusing people of killing JFK, the bullying. Think about your kids coming back from school and emulating this.

I believe that when Ted Cruz said that — and more — it was something he believed with every fiber of his being. I imagine he still does.

But that’s not what Trump hears or thinks.

When both the president and Cruz appeared at a National Rifle Association event in Atlanta at the end of last month, Trump told the crowd that he initially “really liked” Cruz, then “didn’t like” him, and “now like [him] a lot again.”

“Does that make sense?” he asked. “Senator Ted Cruz. Like. Dislike. Like.”

Yeah. It makes perfect sense.

Trump liked Cruz early in their rivalry when Cruz was an obsequious foe — praising Trump at every turn hoping to inherit his following when Trump, inevitably, fell by the wayside. Trump didn’t like Cruz when Cruz dropped that pose to become Trump’s most serious opponent and, ultimately, severest critic. And now that Cruz is once again obeisant, he likes him again.

John Cornyn would be crazy to take the FBI job.