The Fall of Corey
And the notorious podcast scandal roiling Wisconsin
I was tempted to sleep in this morning, until I remembered that today was the day that our deeply unserious class will decide whether to shut down the federal government in the midst of a pandemic, nihilistically crash the economy over the debt ceiling, and kill Joe Biden’s domestic agenda in order to save Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, or something.
But all is not bleak, because we will always have Corey.
Many of you are waking up to the news that Trump’s SuperPac is shocked, shocked to discover that Trump’s uber-lackey Corey Lewandowski sexually harasses women, which, as we know, is absolutely unacceptable and intolerable behavior for anyone other than the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief himself.
Corey Lewandowski, a longtime political adviser to Donald J. Trump, was removed on Wednesday from his role overseeing a super PAC supporting the former president after a donor accused him of making unwanted sexual advances and touching her inappropriately at a dinner in Las Vegas on Sunday night.
His replacement? The ethically-challenged former AG of Florida. Because, of course.
Maggie Haberman @maggieNYTLewandowski out, per Trump spokesman: “Pam Bondi…has our complete faith and confidence in taking over MAGA Action. Corey Lewandowski will be going on to other endeavors and we very much want to thank him for his service. He will no longer be associated with Trump World.”
As Maggie Haberman notes, it’s unclear whether Corey’s exile will be permanent, since he has managed to wiggle himself back from disgrace in the past. But, she writes, in a sentence that deserves a place in a museum of American politics, “Aides to Mr. Trump insist this latest incident is different, particularly because it involves a donor to the former president.”
In other word, asses may be grabbed and thighs fondled, but the donor class shall not be molested. The MAGAverse has standards.
ICYMI, Politico had the story of Lewandowski’s handsy lechery… and it makes for an amazing read. I won’t spoil it by dwelling on the details of his repeated attempts to grab, touch, grope, and maul a Trump donor named Trashelle Odom. Suffice it say that both alcohol and assholery were involved, and it seems supremely unlikely that this was anything close to Lewandowski’s first offense.
“He repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful,” she said in the statement about the dinner. “I am coming forward because he needs to be held accountable.”
Beyond the inappropriate touching, however, one detail deserves to be highlighted, because it reminds us about the sorts of people that are attracted to and thrive in Trump’s orbit.
According to the Politico account, Odom told another attendee at the fund-raiser “that she felt intimidated by Lewandowski’s claims that he has control over the former president’s orbit and can determine the fate of those around Trump.”
Lewandowski said no candidate receives the president’s endorsement without Lewandowski’s approval, Odom told the attendee.
In the statement from Odom’s attorney, Lewandowski is alleged to have said “repeatedly that he is very powerful and can destroy anyone,” and that he “is close with President Trump and can get anyone elected or can take anyone out.”
Strong my-dick-is-so-big, mafioso wanna-be vibes here, but also a glimpse into the darker recesses of the mentality of TrumpWorld, even if it comes from a drunken, horny spear-carrier.
The Trumpverse is a cult of bullying. And Mrs. Odom felt the threat.
“Corey was verbally and physically aggressive and forceful,” Odom alleged in a statement. “I was fearful for my physical safety.” She continued: "I was also fearful that Corey has the power to destroy and ruin everything my husband and I have been working on in our business, personal and charitable endeavors.”
Even though it’s not a new story, it is still worth reflecting on the fact that, until yesterday, Corey Lewandowski fit easily into TrumpWorld’s moral universe, and it is not a coincidence that Trump has managed to gather around him a collection of Coreys.
Think about the wretched refuse who have been drawn into that orbit: Not just Lewandoswki, but crooks like Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Bernie Kerik. Bigots like Darren Beattie, Stephen Miller, MTG, and various drecks on cable television. Grifters like Diamond and Silk, Jenna Ellis, and Dinesh D’Souza. Sleazoids like Jason Miller, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Matt Gaetz. And, of course, nutjobs like the My Pillow Guy, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn. And don’t forget Rudy Giuliani.
I could go on, but you’ve lived through the last five years and are probably trying to forget them. But there’s a pretty clear pattern here.
Tom Winter @Tom_WinterNEW: Thomas Barrack, former chairman of the Trump Inaugural and Trump confidant, was arrested on federal charges in Los Angeles this morning, multiple law enforcement officials tell @anblanx and @PeteWilliamsNBC It's not clear what he's been charged with yet...
“I believe it unprecedented in any US administration for so many of the closest circle of persons around the president to have been shown to be conmen, grifters and base criminals,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino family boss John Gotti, in an email.
“While previous administrations had their share of those trying to personally profit and those willing to break the law to serve the political interests of the president, what is unique about the Trump administration is the large number of people in direct contact with the president, often for years, who are revealed to be out-and-out fraudsters for whom crime is apparently part of their lifestyle and character.”
“Why this unprecedented situation?” said Cotter, now a Chicago-based officer with the Greensfelder law firm.
“My almost 40 years working in criminal law has taught me that criminals of a particular type tend to associate with other criminals of the same type. There is a comfort level and mutual understanding in such associations.
“So when I see a swarm of conmen buzzing around one particular man, in this case Trump, my experience suggests that it is because they recognize one of their own. And in selecting them to be his confidants, the president also recognized kindred spirits.”
None of this is really a secret. What is the attraction of TrumpWorld for the worst people in the world?
In return for the requisite fawning, MAGAworld created a moral free-fire zone, a force field against accountability.
Too dumb, corrupt, or sleazy for the rest of world? Not a problem in TrumpWorld.
So no wonder they flocked to it.
For someone like Corey Lewandowski, Trump offered (until yesterday) a world of liberation and redemption, where mediocrity and venality could shelter together under a pugnacious amorality.
But even a Trumpian hall pass from decency comes with an expiration date… at least when it comes to groping actual campaign donors.
Join us tonight!
An incomplete quote?
One of our savvy Bulwark+ readers pushed back against one of the items in yesterday’s Morning Shots. I had included this tweet from the NYT’s Peter Baker:
From the comment section:
About that Peter Baker tweet: he "creatively" edited Stephanoplous's question. The actual question was:
"So your military advisers did not tell you, “No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that?""
That's what Biden answered no to. No general told him they could keep a stable situation in Afghanistan with only 2,500 troops staying there especially given the Doha agreement between TFG and the Taliban.
From the same link above, Austin said, “the intelligence was clear that if we did not leave in accordance with that agreement, the Taliban would recommence attacks on our forces.”
So keeping 2,500 US forces there would not nearly have been enough to keep any kind of stability.
But I'm looking forward to Shay Khatiri's next hyperventilating article about how we should have stayed in Afghanistan forever because reasons.
(Remember, Bulwark+ members can comment below on any Morning Shots.)
Killing the Pony.
House Dems may or may not vote today on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. But they seem intent on continuing their game of political chicken.
As you know, I had some thoughts on that the other day, which I’ll keep repeating until morale improves:
Threatening to kill your own bill… a bill you favor... that includes much of your party’s agenda… and that represents your president’s premier legislative achievement… may merely be a negotiating tactic.
But actually voting against it … is nuts.
It’s a game of chicken where nobody swerves, and everybody dies in a fiery crash of endless punditry about failed presidencies.
Killing the bipartisan bill does not guarantee that the senate will ever pass the larger reconciliation bill. It would, however, mean that Democrats had decided to fumble the ball on the one yard line.
But, surely, someone will swerve at the last moment, right?
Because the alternative — both bills falling victim to intraparty squabbling, would be a supreme act of political malpractice.
Tim Miller and I had some further thoughts:
For some in the party, this is legislative nihilism. Shooting the hostage may work as a concept in a Keanu Reeves movie. But in Washington, it is considered a self-destructive hissy fit.
The notorious podcast scandal roiling Wisconsin politics.
Ok, “roiling,’ may be too strong a word. But I found myself caught up in this whole bizarre episode: “Attorney general candidate admits removing old podcasts; missing episodes feature Trump critics” (me).
This scandal began with a post in an obscure right-wing website, “Wisconsin Right Now”:
In 2019, Professor Ryan Owens recorded a conversation with notorious Never Trumper Charlie Sykes, who is regarded as a traitor by many in the GOP base. It’s vanished. Where is it? Owens has been critical of Trump at times in the past, saying Trump’s emergency action at the southern border “was just as excessive as Obama’s unconstitutional actions were.”
MADISON — Four episodes of a podcast hosted by Ryan Owens — some of them featuring critics of former President Donald Trump — have disappeared from the internet as the Republican candidate for attorney general ramps up his campaign.
Owens on Wednesday offered evolving accounts regarding the removal of the episodes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison podcast.
Initially, he characterized it as a mistake and suggested it might have had to do with the update of a website.
A university spokesman later said officials believe Owens requested that the episodes be taken off the web, and at that point Owens acknowledged sometimes removing older episodes. ..
The missing episodes feature talks with Charlie Sykes, a former conservative talk show host who became a vocal Trump critic; Michael Murphy, a Republican strategist who opposes Trump; Kenneth Mayer, a UW-Madison professor who faced criticism from conservatives for how he portrayed Trump in a syllabus; and Scott Coenen, who heads a nonprofit group focused on renewable energy.
Apparently 3 of the 4 missing podcasts turned up. The exception?
Owens' successor at the Thompson Center, Alexander Tahk, told Wisconsin Right Now that he had found the audio for three of the episodes but not the one featuring Sykes.
Sykes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he did not have a copy of the episode.
Exit take: I am definitely going to make “notorious Never Trumper, who is regarded as a traitor by many in the GOP base,” into a t-shirt.
My Father and the Birth of Modern Conservatism
Great read from Phillip Jaffa: The inspiration for the 1964 “Extremism in the defense of liberty” speech his father wrote for Barry Goldwater.
Harry Jaffa was my father. I was only 12 at the time, but I clearly remember the excitement following the convention. The first thing my father did when he got back was grab me and go down to City Hall to register as a Republican. He swore me to secrecy. He did not want it to get out that Mr. Republican’s acceptance speech had been written by a Democrat.
The impact this speech had on my father’s life was profound. In my father’s words, he went from being an obscure professor of political science whose teachings were ignored to a famous professor of political science whose teachings were ignored!
Sounds like… SOCIALISM!
Nihilism on parade: