The one truthful thing Donald Trump said in Des Moines

Former President Donald Trump made at least one undeniably accurate statement during his latest lengthy rant filled with lies, xenophobia, and appeals to white grievance.

While endorsing Senator Chuck Grassley’s re-election in Des Moines on October 9, Trump said of Iowa’s senior senator,

When I’ve needed him for help he was always there. […]

He was with us all the way, every time I needed something. You know, he’s very [persnickety] sometimes, right? He’s tough. But when I needed him, he was always there.

That’s for sure.

Grassley was there for Trump when he kept a U.S. Supreme Court seat vacant for nearly a year, so a Republican president could fill it.

He was there for Trump when he helped spin the firing of FBI Director James Comey, when he ran the White House’s talking points at a Senate hearing on Russian election interference, and when he opposed appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian operatives.

He was there for Trump when he brushed off the president’s disclosure of “highly classified information” to Russian officials in the Oval Office. And when he used his Senate Judiciary Committee position to develop “a counter-narrative to the Trump-Russia storyline,” leading investigations that “seem designed to minimize the culpability of Trump and his aides […].” 

Grassley was there for the president when he depicted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as illegitimate, and dodged questions about Trump aides indicted in that probe, and claimed the real abuse of power was charging former national security adviser Michael Flynn with lying to the FBI.

He was there for Trump when he cheered the attorney general’s intervention to reduce the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, convicted of “seven felony counts including lying to authorities, obstructing a congressional investigation and witness intimidation.”

The self-styled patron saint of whistleblowers was there for Trump when he made excuses for obvious retaliation against witnesses in Trump’s first impeachment inquiry. And when he put up only token opposition to the removal of inspectors general at several federal agencies last year. And when he kept his mouth shut as U.S. attorneys were purged.

Grassley was there for the president during the first impeachment trial, blocking efforts to subpoena relevant documents and hear witness testimony. And when he voted to acquit, saying nothing negative about Trump’s conduct on the Senate floor (though he did slip some mild criticism into the written record).

He was there for Trump when he refused to say Joe Biden legitimately won every state that delivered its electoral votes to him. And when he feigned genuine concern about “election irregularities.” And when he refused to denounce Trump’s Big Lie, and suggested that the coup attempt on January 6 was not much different from the handful of objections to electoral college votes in 2001, 2005, and 2017.

He was there for the now-former-president in the second impeachment trial, saying the Senate lacked “the authority to try a private citizen” and House managers failed to prove Trump incited an insurrection.

Grassley was there for Trump when he promoted alternate realities, in which Ukraine (not Russia) interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and Trump did not pressure the Justice Department to help overturn his 2020 loss to Joe Biden.

That last act of service happened just this week.

State Senator Jim Carlin is challenging Grassley in the upcoming Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He’s positioning himself as a more pro-Trump Republican than the supposedly “moderate” longtime senator. Carlin has promulgated the Big Lie on the Iowa Senate floor and recently signed a letter demanding phony audits in all 50 states, with a view to reversing Biden’s victory.

But those gestures are of no importance compared to the ongoing cover Grassley has provided at every perilous moment during Trump’s presidency and beyond.

Top image: Screenshot of Donald Trump with Chuck Grassley, from C-SPAN’s video of Trump’s October 9 speech in Des Moines.

  • Right on....

    Grassley has been a horrible disappointment. He has done NOTHING to stop the party’s slide towards authoritarianism. He was supposed to be the wise, experienced voice in the party leadership. Instead, he has played right along every time and always came up with an excuse to not do the right thing.

    The Republican party is now morphing into a gang of extremists. I’m also disappointed in the other supposed ‘moderates’ like Romney, Collins, Sasse, Portman, Murkowski, who could’ve banded together to form a coalition to stand up to this madness but were too afraid (but that’s another story).

  • I can't stop myself here...

    Well, it has certainly been fascinating to watch, in a Stranglelovian darkness kind of way. Or Shakespearean, probably, somewhere, if I’d actually read him.

    I don’t watch a ton of movies, but the cute pig-tailed eight year old girl in the black and white 1956 film playing on Turner Movie Classics last night I swear had at least one line, if not two or three, that were right in the same row and section in the same ballpark psychologically as any one of a number of Trump reactions we’ve witnessed to any slight by another person. Playing Rhoda Penmark, the then ten or eleven year old Patty McCormack had a performance for the ages of a sociopathathic narcissist. But in her case, she murders, again and again and again. The vindictiveness spewing ferociously out of the little girl’s mouth when recounting how wrong it was that her little classmate and not her had won the penmanship award and medal was pure Trumpian sociopathic behavior in a 1956 movie. Played by a small girl.

    I found it remarkable that a 1956 film would venture into the philosophical and scientific debate over where the bad behavior came from: Was it hereditary or environmental/social? It went there multiple times, and not in a stupid way. We find out in the middle of the film that, although her mom was normal, her grandmother had also been a serial killer.

    It was a quite entertaining story, with very good acting. Many of the the people in the film, including the young McCormack had already performed the story on stage over 300 times, so they had it down cold for the film.

    This is a long-winded way of saying I think I’m in the “mostly hereditary” camp.

    “He can’t,” is how Obama put it simply in a video where his preceding sentence was something about how he had hoped Trump could grow and learn to govern responsibly.

    I think the same is true of many of his (still) sycophants like Chuck. The behavior I think is mostly an expression of his DNA.

    As is Laura’s, who cannot not write prolifically and intelligently after who knows how many hours of research. It is her stuff inside. Like all things, it is a product of the past.

    Nobody can do anything about it.

    Or as Christopher Hitchens said, “My answer when I’m asked it ‘Is there free will?’, I say, ‘Yeah, I think there’s free will; we have free will. We have no choice!’ At least I know I’m being ironic!”

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