There was Geraldo Rivera and The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults – that two-hour live television special that was broadcast one time only in syndication on April 21, 1986 – Geraldo Rivera was going to open a secret vault in the Lexington Hotel once owned by Al Capone, right there in Chicago, where Al Capone had been a very bad man. Geraldo – now known by his first name only – had been fired from ABC in 1985 after ripping into that network for canceling his amazing report on the secret hot-and-heavy relationship between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.
He had the goods! ABC checked. He didn’t – but he would show them. They’d be sorry they fired him. He alone would be the one who would reveal Al Capone’s deepest secrets to the world.
The hype was endless. The day came. The vault was empty. Geraldo Rivera became a joke – but he eventually recovered. Fox News, many years later, hired him to cover what was really going on in Iraq – Bush had done the right thing – we were winning that war. Fox News later gave him his own show – for a bit – but he was all hype. He never did have the goods on anyone or anything. Fox News let him fade into the background. They understood. Hype pays the bills but sometimes there’s no mystery.
That just happened again. The hype was endless. The day came. There was no riot in Washington:
White supremacists held a rally in Washington on Sunday, and almost no one but their opponents and the police showed up.
Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of last year’s violent and deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, wanted to hold an anniversary demonstration there, but the city wouldn’t let him. So he brought his show to Washington, where he hoped 400 supporters would join him for a rally at Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Fewer than forty turned out.
The group was met by thousands of protesters who filled their half of the leafy, seven-acre park chanting “Go home, Nazis!” “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” and “Black lives matter!”
They drowned out whatever message Kessler and his small band of followers had hoped to deliver – and that was their goal.
And that was that. The nation has more white nationalist neo-Nazis than ever before, but they are few and easily contained, particularly with a bit of common sense:
City leaders and law enforcement officials were determined that the event would not be a repeat of the mayhem in Charlottesville last year, when city police and Virginia state troopers allowed white supremacists and neo-Nazis to clash in the streets with anti-hate protesters. Counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed when a man who police say identified himself as a Nazi drove a car into a crowd. Two state troopers died when their helicopter crashed following a day of monitoring the civil disturbance.
A massive police presence Sunday kept the two sides separated, and outside of a confrontation between some Antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters and police long after the rally had ended, there were no reports of violence. Police reported that one man was arrested after he assaulted a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
That was about it. No one’s free-speech rights were violated. Everyone had their say – at a distance – and then it was over:
At Lafayette Square, protesters continued to yell and chant, and some, including a small contingent of Antifa members dressed in black, hoped for a showdown with the white supremacists when the rally ended a little before 5 p.m. Police acted quickly to spirit Kessler and his followers out of the area in white vans to the Rosslyn Metro station, where they boarded a train to return to Vienna. [That would be the one in Virginia, not Austria.] Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill said police were stationed along Interstate 66 to make sure no one tried to throw debris onto the train tracks or cause any other trouble.
Antifa members vented their frustration at not being able to confront the rally-goers by lighting smoke bombs and firecrackers and throwing eggs in the direction of police. By then, a steady rain was falling, however, and the protest was fizzling.
The police expected that, but by then it was raining heavily and that was more of a bother than a problem, so this wasn’t much:
At the rally, Kessler spent much of his fifteen-minute speech defending last year’s Unite the Right rally and insisting, despite evidence to the contrary, that most of those who attended had been nonviolent.
Earlier in the day, Kessler spoke to several reporters at the Vienna Metro station. He said he and his group were there to promote free speech and to protest “white civil rights abuses.”
When asked whether he had anything to say to Heather Heyer’s mother, Kessler offered his “condolences” but said police in Charlottesville should have blocked off the street where she was killed.
Several days after her death last year, Kessler tweeted, “Heather Heyer was a fat, disgusting Communist. It looks like it was payback time.”
Jason Kessler is who he is. The mystery is why Donald Trump won’t speak out against him, and why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan run and hide when anyone asks them what’s up with that from the leader of their party, which actually isn’t a mystery. McConnell and Ryan got the massive tax cuts for large corporations and the four hundred wealthiest families in America, and two pro-business anti-worker Supreme Court justices, so far. They’ll let Trump be Trump, but Trump was the other issue in the afternoon rain:
Holding a “Dump Trump” sign, Mike Holey, 67, of Baltimore said he’s been particularly frustrated by what he called the president’s hesitation to denounce white supremacy and neo-Nazism. He pointed to Trump’s statement that there was “blame on both sides” after violence broke out at the Unite the Right rally last year.
Benjamin Garrett, a Vietnam War veteran who lives in Maryland, raised a sign saying “Trump is a traitor” in block capital letters.
“He gives these people permission,” Garrett said. “Trump is a blatant racist.”
So what else is new? The latest polling shows that half of the country is certain that Donald Trump is a racist – so there is no mystery there. Only outsiders find this mysterious:
Rossana Castillo, 50, a tourist from Grenoble, France, paused as she passed to take photos.
“It’s astonishing to me,” she said of the rally that was expected to bring white supremacists within shouting distance of the White House. “And it is just so sad. I know I am a foreigner, but I love your country. I really do. And I am so grateful these people can be here and have the right to stand up to people like this.”
She sounded surprised but this was just another day in America – white supremacists within shouting distance of the White House, assuming, perhaps rightly, the big guy in there was on their side, outnumbered one hundred to one by those who find that appalling. The president is outnumbered on this, but he was elsewhere:
As rain dumped on his golf club, President Donald Trump raged on Saturday, lashing out at his Justice Department on Twitter before welcoming members of a “Bikers for Trump” fan group to the manicured grounds.
Dozens and dozens of gleaming Harleys, Hondas and other motorcycles descended on the central New Jersey property for what had been billed as an outdoor photo-op with Trump. But pouring rain and flash-flood warnings scrambled the plan, sending soggy bikers inside a crystal-chandeliered clubhouse ballroom, where Trump signed autographs and posed for selfies and his guests booed reporters.
Someone must have told him it would be a bad idea to head down to Washington and hobnob with Jason Kessler and that crowd. That must have angered him. He decided to hobnob with the fat bearded angry white guys in leather and bandanas, the ZZ Top wannabes, instead. He likes bad boys. He wants to be a bad boy:
The day began on Twitter with a broadside against the FBI, which Trump accused of stonewalling a public records request for former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe’s text messages.
“What are they hiding?” the president asked, threatening that he “may have to get involved” personally in internal FBI business and warning, “DO NOT DESTROY.”
In short, screw that “independent FBI” crap. Bikers are real men. He’s a real man. He’ll take over. These real men understand him:
Trump appeared in a better mood when he greeted the bikers, who chanted “Four more years!” and “USA!” as he entered the ballroom. Rain streamed down the windows and pools formed on the empty golf greens outside.
He quickly pointed out the sopping-wet media, which sparked jeers and calls to “tell the truth.” And he thanked the group, saying they’d been with him since the beginning and calling their motorcycles “the most beautiful bikes anyone’s ever seen.”
He later walked into the crowd of supporters, shaking hands, posing for selfies and signing autographs.
That was his unsurprising response to the thousands in the streets outside the White House shouting down the white supremacists. Let them whine. He’d hang with the bikers, and he’d hang tough:
Trump returned to the podium to poll those in the crowd on their views of the press, prompting more jeers. One joked that the press pool should be thrown out in the rain.
The president largely ignored reporters’ shouted questions, except for one about former White House adviser and reality star Omarosa Manigault Newman and her new book, which includes scandalous — and often unsupported – accusations against Trump.
The president leaned over and cupped his hand around his mouth as if to whisper.
“Lowlife. She’s a lowlife,” Trump said.
He ignored a question about ongoing trade negotiations with Mexico, which prompted some in the crowd to shout, “Build the wall!”
Being with bad-boy bikers brings out the biker in him:
Later, when the rain had eased, Trump walked outside the residence, where the bikers had gathered with their motorcycles on the drive. He posed for more pictures, stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and urged the bikers to rev their engines.
“Let’s hear those engines now,” he called out, gesturing for them to go louder as the motors roared.
And he roared too:
Earlier in the day, Trump’s wrath poured down on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the president’s alleged enemies in the FBI, including ex-FBI Director James Comey, McCabe and Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who was removed from Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election after Mueller learned he’d expressed distaste for Trump in text messages.
Trump branded them all “clowns and losers” who had hurt “so many of the great men and women of the FBI.”
Trump also revived his frequent attacks on Sessions, calling him “scared stiff and Missing in Action.”
Jeff Sessions is obviously not a real man, but earlier, Trump had reluctantly done his duty:
Trump marked the anniversary of deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a tweet saying he condemns “all types of racism and acts of violence.”
Last year, Trump said there was “blame on both sides” for the violence that broke out when white nationalists descended on Charlottesville to protest the removal of Confederate statutes and marched through town shouting racist slurs. Trump said then that the group included “very fine people.”
In Saturday’s tweet, Trump said the “riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division.”
“We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!” he wrote.
That was it. He did the minimum, and he certainly didn’t explicitly abandon his “blame on both sides” argument. He never will. That’s not him. There’s no mystery here.
And he did have motorcycles on his mind:
President Donald Trump renewed his war of words with iconic U.S. motorcycle maker Harley Davidson on Sunday, denouncing the company’s plan to shift some production abroad and appearing to back consumers that have called for a boycott.
In a series of early morning posts on Twitter, the president said that people looking to stop buying Harleys was a “great” development, adding that other companies were moving to produce in America.
That doesn’t address the actual problem:
Harley is increasingly investing in production facilities overseas to avoid tariffs. The 115-year old motorcycle manufacturer has been caught in a public relations firestorm since June, when it announced plans in June to move its European market production out of the U.S. because of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union…
The retaliatory tariffs are the problem – the Europeans are fighting back against our tariffs – those bastards. A Harley Davidson motorcycle will now cost thousands of dollars more than anyone else’s motorcycle in Europe. Sales will dry up. Harley Davidson can build the same bike outside the United States, for the European market. Otherwise, they lose that market. This is a simple business decision:
In an interview with CNBC last month, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich called Trump’s statements “unfortunate attention” in light of difficult business decisions the company has been forced to make, and were unrelated to politics.
“We just deal with what we have to deal with; we are not a political organization. We’ve worked very hard to be apolitical in how we approach our business and our consumers, everywhere in the world,” he said.
Trump doesn’t get it. The lowlife gets it:
Former White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman on Sunday said top administration officials are deceiving the country about President Donald Trump’s mental state and accused White House chief of staff John Kelly of threatening her when she was fired.
“I was complicit with this White House in deceiving this nation,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “They continue to deceive this nation by how mentally declined he is, about how difficult it is for him to process complex information, how he is not engaged in some of the most important decisions that impacts our country.”
“I was complicit in it, for that I regret,” she added.
Bully for her, but there’s no suddenly unveiled mystery here. Others have noted that, but she had her personal excuse:
“Being used by Donald Trump for so long, I was like the frog in the hot water. You don’t know that you’re in that situation until it just keeps bubbling and bubbling.”
That’s not much of an excuse, but there’s this:
Manigault Newman, who is promoting her new book, also provided a tape to NBC of a conversation between her and Kelly, which she claimed was a recording of her firing in the White House Situation Room. She left the White House in December 2017.
“I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure we can all be, you know, you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation, and then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation,” Kelly said, according to the tape played on air.
Manigault Newman said it was “obvious” that the reference to her reputation was “a threat.”
“He goes on to say that, ‘things can get ugly for you,'” she said. “That’s downright criminal.”
That’s surprising and not surprising. This particular White House is a nasty place. Anyone can see that. What’s surprising is her secretly recording Kelly in the White House Situation Room, the most secure room in the world. How the hell did that happen? They’re still trying to figure that out, but what’s done is done:
She also said the tape contradicts some media reporting about her firing, which said she responded to her firing with obscenities and that she tried to enter the White House residence, prompting Kelly to have her escorted out by the Secret Service.
“If I did not have this recording, people would still believe the false incredible story that I was running around the White House… that I tried to charge the residence of the White House, and it’s a lie,” Manigault Newman said. “If I did not have this recording, people would still think I was trying to set off alarms. So, yes, I had to protect myself.”
They do smear people. Everyone has seen that. This woman fought back, and there was this:
Manigault Newman’s book describes the president as a racist, bigot and misogynist. In a statement last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Manigault Newman’s book “riddled with lies and false accusations.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway cast doubt on Manigault Newman’s credibility, arguing her explanations of multiple events have changed.
“The first time I ever heard Omarosa suggest those awful things about this president are in this book,” Conway said.
“I think Omarosa is a tremendous disappointment here because she should be taking credit for all the great gains that this president has made with respect to that low unemployment number among African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and others,” Conway said.
He has? Mexicans are rapists. There were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. Obama was born in Kenya. Democrats love MS-13 and we need to prevent Muslims from entering the country. Trump talks about “those people” like the dumb (black) Maxine Waters and the dumb (black) Don Lemon and the dumb (black) LeBron James – the low IQ people – and there are those damned uppity and ungrateful black football players who should be fired. Kellyanne Conway says that Trump is doing great things for African-Americans and all the others. She has no idea what Omarosa is talking about. No one has any idea what Kellyanne Conway is talking about – but there’s nothing new here. Look at the evidence! What you see and what you read is not what’s really happening! Yes it is! No it’s not!
Expect a few more years of that. There’s no news here, except for what Jennifer Rubin notes here:
Omarosa Manigault Newman’s new book, filled with unsubstantiated allegations and implausible claims – that she did not know President Trump was a racist before she arrived at the White House – would not, I would submit, normally constitute serious news. Putting someone with low credibility on air to sell books does a disservice to Americans and lowers the already low atmosphere of public debate. Let her sell her books on “The View” or on late-night comedy shows. However, when she has tapes allegedly made within the confines of the White House, and worse, the Situation Room, that is news because it reflects the abject incompetence and sloppiness in the administration, both of which endanger the country.
Actually, it’s dangerous and reprehensible – and yet this White House invited her and scores of other irresponsible and unqualified people in and, apparently, no one picked up on the fact she was compromising security by taping top officials. Now the White House needs to explain a whole bunch of things, starting with how she apparently managed to get a taping device into the Situation Room.
But even that’s a problem:
It’s fair to assume the White House has no idea what she taped and therefore is in the peculiar position of lacking access to basic information to assess which, if any, security rules she broke and whether legitimately classified material has been compromised.
But put that aside for a larger issue:
It would be a mistake to take Omarosa’s words (written or verbal) seriously. Indeed, this only trivializes the real concerns about the president’s fitness for office and the overall competence of the White House. Taking Omarosa’s accounts seriously in order to answer those inquiries would be foolish. She, however, did something that is news: surreptitiously tape high-level officials. The chaotic, unprofessional operation of the administration, hardly new but surely amplified by Omarosa, certainly is newsworthy.
So that’s what happened this weekend. There were thousands in the streets outside the White House shouting down the white supremacists, but those sad few can be easily contained. President Trump ignored all of that. He decided to spend the day with the fat bearded angry white guys in leather and bandanas, the ZZ Top wannabes, because he likes bad boys and wants to be a bad boy biker. Manigault Newman’s new book describes the president as a racist, bigot and misogynist – and in serious mental decline and unable to process complex information and not engaged in much of anything. So what else is new? It was all hype. There was no mystery here, in any of it.
Al Capone’s vault was empty too. The nation moved on.