New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – Lame duck President Trump, while still beating the drum of discontent over his defeat, found time to channel his old reality show persona: He fired a top federal election official.
And that was just the start of another frenetic stretch in the president’s dwindling White House tenure, with the Trump administration angling last week to roll back a slew of environmental protections seeking to expand Arctic drilling and reduce the safety of migratory birds.
Trump also announced a dramatic reduction in the US military presence in Afghanistan beginning Jan 15 —a mere five days before President-elect Joe Biden takes over as the nation’s 46th commander-in-chief.
In between his last-ditch maneuvering, he continued to pump his supporters for donations to his toothless fight against the Election Day results, sending a flood of incendiary and inaccurate e-mail blasts still insisting the race was rigged.
“His time in office is limited, but he’s not investing that time in thinking about his legacy,” said New York University professor and presidential historian Timothy Naftali. “It’s not surprising he would use his remaining time in office to ram through elements of his agenda, even though the American people spoke and said ‘Enough is enough.’”
The surreal scenario plays out against the backdrop of COVID-19, with a second wave arriving as predicted by the health experts ignored by the president. The US reports 12 million cases and 254,000 deaths — more than double the number of American service fatalities in World War I.
The first to feel the wrath of Trump was Christopher Krebs, a presidential appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The fired Krebs’ transgression: Publicly vouching for the legitimacy of Biden’s election victory over his boss.
Trump callously announced the punitive dismissal by tweet.
On Friday, the president summoned Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to the White House as his efforts to ignore the Constitution and fight the election results continued. The invite came one day after the Trump campaign dropped a federal lawsuit seeking to deny certification of the state’s election results.
“We are all about to see how much the Congress, courts and we American citizens are willing to put up with a defiant President abusing his vast powers in order to stay in office despite his defeat,” tweeted presidential historian Michael Beschloss.
On the environmental front, the administration’s coda to four years of deregulation came with rollback efforts to allow the expansion of Arctic drilling and deny protections for migratory birds. A 1918 federal act currently protects more than 1,000 migratory species, holding businesses criminally liable for deaths caused by power lines or wind turbines, among other things.
The proposed changes went to the White House just two days after Biden’s Nov. 7 victory, with the winner’s record vote total now approaching a record 80 million.
The Department of the Interior also released a supporting analysis for the proposed easing of mining, drilling and grazing restrictions on 51 million acres of land across seven Western states — a proposal already shot down in October 2019 by a federal judge in Idaho.
US District Court Judge B Lynn Winmill ruled the Bureau of Land Management failed to properly assess the plan’s impact on an endangered species, the greater sage grouse.
The announcement last week of an Afghanistan reduction of U.S. troops, from 4,500 to 2,500, came without consultation with incoming president Biden. The decision didn’t sit well with NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who issued a statement criticizing the move.
“The price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high,” he warned. “Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands.
“NATO went into Afghanistan after an attack on the United States to ensure that it would never again be a safe haven for international terrorists.”
But the elephant in the Republican president’s room remains his election defeat. The Trump campaign unleashes a daily flood of e-mail appeals seeking donations to overturn his crushing defeat, with as many as a dozen daily missives sent out for his “Official Election Defense Fund.”
“I told you this would happen. I warned you about it for MONTHS,” wrote Trump in one of his calls for more cash. “The Fake News media is trying to help Joe Biden UNDERMINE THIS ELECTION, and now I need you to stand with me and DEFEND America. This is your moment. If we don’t stand up and fight right now, we will lose our country to the Liberal Mob forever.”
And he’s still got 59 days left in the White House.
Top Feature Photo: President Donald Trump – MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images