An unhinged Trump unleashes another Twitter tsunami

Donald Trump showed up for church in Washington, DC, Sunday — something he rarely does.  For America’s current president, Sundays usually are for golf, not God.

Trump and First Lady Melania attended the Lenten service at St. John’s Episcopal Church but did not talk to reporters.  Instead they returned to the White House where he continued a series of Twitter tweets filled with false information and outright lies.

Before and after the church service, Trump attacked late Senator John McCain, the “Steele dossier” that links him to Russians interests, Saturday Night Live and even Fox News Channel for displeasing him.

His tirade over Fox focused in the network’s decision to denounce host Jeanine Pirro’s attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).  Pirro claimed Omar, a Muslim, did not support the Constitution and questioned her wearing of a hijab.

Trump blasted Fox for “working soooo hard on being politically correct, and will only bring you down.  Be strong and prosper.  Be weak and die! ”  Fox bumped Pirro’s show off the air Saturday night.

He went after General Motors with anther tweet:

Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce.  G.M. let our Country down, but other much better car companies are coming into the U.S. in droves. I want action on Lordstown fast. Stop complaining and get the job done! 3.8% Unemployment!

In normal fashion, Trump laced his tweets with inaccuracies and lies.  He claimed McCain graduated last in his class from the U.S. Navy Academy in Annapolis.  While McCain was in the lower half of graduates, he was not “last in his class.”

“He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual),” Trump said of McCain. “Even the Fake News refused this garbage!”

Trump’s attacks on McCain, a Naval aviator shot down in North Vietnam and imprisoned by his captors, brought a strong response from Meghan McCain, the late senator’s daughter:

“No one will ever love you the way they loved my father,” she tweeted. “I wish I had been given more Saturday’s with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?”

Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, after reading Trump’s latest rants, notes “Trump inspires right-wing nationalists, convinces our allies that he’s mentally unstable and trashes democratic norms.”

And Trump’s cult-style supporters, she adds, are equally pathetic:

Trump cult’s defense, nor call into question its moral calculus in accepting monstrous behavior and words (no matter how racist, unhinged and dangerous) in exchange for its own financial gain, some “law and order judges” (judges must defend law and order, but not the president, I suppose) and delight in seeing other Americans mortified, frightened or endangered by Trump’s stirring of racial, ethnic and religious animosity.

Trump’s series of Twitter rants brought a response from George T. Conway, critic of the president, as well as husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.  The response summed up Trump very well:

“His condition is getting worse,” Conway wrote.

Sadly, it will continue to get worse…and worse…and worse.

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Trump’s diatribes may tarnish Sessions’ legacy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vigorously pushed President Donald Trump’s agenda at the Justice Department, and before that, spent 20 years championing conservative causes in the Senate.

Yet as Sessions enters what may be the final stretch of his tenure, those efforts are at risk of being eclipsed by his boss’ relentless verbal jabs that have made the attorney general seem like a perpetual presidential punching bag. It’s a role Sessions never sought but perhaps could have anticipated.

The steady diatribes , most recently a tweet excoriating Sessions for the federal indictments of two Republican congressmen, reflect Trump’s single-minded outrage over the special counsel’s Russia investigation and are all the more striking because Sessions is the cabinet member most clearly aligned with Trump’s values.

The treatment has largely overshadowed the attorney general’s work on violent crime, illegal immigration and opioid addiction, clouding a legacy that in other times would be more broadly cheered in conservative circles.

“There are folks that ask me constantly, ‘What’s wrong with Sessions?’” said former Cincinnati mayor Ken Blackwell, a longtime friend who says the criticism is “eroding what otherwise would be a very respectable portfolio.”

“The punches that he throws in Sessions’ direction are landing and they’re distorting the track record,” Blackwell added, “and they’re having people start to question not just his loyalty to the president but his competency — when his record is a very successful record and could be compared to any other Cabinet secretary.”

Sessions has mostly absorbed the blows quietly while marching through a tough-on-crime agenda, bringing to the job the same hard-line principles that once placed him far to the right of many other Republican senators.

He has encouraged more aggressive marijuana enforcement, directed prosecutors to bring the most serious charges they can prove, announced a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants crossing the border illegally and targeted the MS-13 gang. He also has alarmed his critics, who fear he has degraded civil rights protections by not defending affirmative action, police reform or transgender legal rights.

But neither Sessions’ work nor his loyalty seems to resonate with Trump. The president has belittled his attorney general since Sessions stepped aside from an investigation into ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. Trump interpreted the move, which legal experts said was inevitable given Sessions’ campaign support, as an act of disloyalty that led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment.

Trump has said if he had known Sessions would take that step, he would not have picked the Alabama Republican to be attorney general. The president now asserts that Sessions never has had control of the department, and accuses Sessions of failing to aggressively pursue Trump’s political rivals and to investigate potential bias in the Russia investigation.

Trump told Bloomberg News last week that Sessions’ job was safe through the November election. The president gave no reassurances about after that. Meanwhile, the solid Republican support in the Senate that has buffered Sessions is showing signs of cracking.

The most recent broadside Monday, about the charges against the two GOP lawmakers, was stunning for its norm-shattering obliteration of the bright line between the White House and Justice Department. Trump said the indictments, coming before an election when control of Congress is at stake, had left “two easy wins now in doubt.” He ended the tweet with a sarcastic “Good job Jeff.”

“You’re harassing the attorney general for not dealing with political bias at the DOJ and then conversely accusing him of not engaging in political bias at the DOJ,” said Cameron Smith, a former Sessions counsel in the Senate. “Those cannot both be simultaneously consistent positions.”

Sessions didn’t respond to that criticism, though in the past he’s issued statements saying the department won’t bend to political considerations and promising to serve with integrity and honor. His only mentions of Trump are laudatory, and in public appearances, Sessions is far more likely to focus on the work that has impassioned him for decades than on the controversies around him.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

The criticism has created an unusual dynamic where Trump-aligned Republicans who ordinarily would praise Sessions are joining in the condemnation, while progressives opposed to his agenda fear that his firing for political reasons could destabilize democracy.

Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department civil rights chief in the Obama administration, said she believed Sessions was terrible for civil rights but she did not want him dismissed as a means of crippling Mueller’s investigation.

“It isn’t about protecting Jeff Sessions,” Gupta said. “It’s about protecting the notion that nobody is above the law in this country and that the Constitution applies to everybody.”

It wasn’t always this way for Sessions, a federal prosecutor during the 1980s-era “war on drugs.”

His conservative Senate positions, including opposing bipartisan legislation that would have created a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the country illegally, made him a natural fit for Trump. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump, joining the candidate for campaigning and foreign policy meetings. The loyalty paid off with the attorney general post, but it also wound up entangling him in the Russia investigation.

Even as Sessions has pushed the Trump agenda, he’s confronted headlines about his campaign interactions with the Russian ambassador and about his attendance at a campaign meeting where the prospect of a Trump-Vladimir Putin meeting was broached.

“It’s not as if Trump’s background didn’t have a lot of red flags in it and Sessions decided, ‘Hey, I want to get on board with this person’ and it frankly turned out poorly for him as a person,” said Smith, the former Sessions aide. “I do think that’s a lesson in discretion.”

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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Jay Reeves in Alabaster, Alabama, contributed to this report.

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/etuckerAP

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