Soundtracking the Resistance - The Trump Testimonials

Featuring Sharon Van Etten, Hercules & Love Affair, Radiohead, The Regrettes, and The War on Drugs

Jun 16, 2017 Web Exclusive By Stephen Mayne Bookmark and Share


The problem with politics, like too many other things, is that it moves so fast. This is exacerbated by a presidency that seems to go through crises like the average person goes through socks. Forgetting what came before is easy when so much has come after. That's why we're pausing on the Trump and Russia testifying, though the usual news and music updates covering everything from state visits to Orlando nightclub massacre benefit singles also get a look in.

The Big Event 

We touched on James Comey's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, and it seems worth returning to, not least because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now taken to the stand (or at least sat at the table). Facing a barrage of questions from angry Senators, he managed to give very little in return. This all happened a day after the Commander in Chief convened his first full Cabinet, getting them to sing his praises like he himself does, the group effectively reciting the chorus to Foxygen's "Follow the Leader."

First though let's recap last Thursday. Comey attacked the President from multiple angles, building a portrait of a man not just happy to flout rules, but largely oblivious to when he was doing so. For all those hoping for a smoking gun that would bring about impeachment hearings, there was no such thing, but there wasn't likely to be.

Instead, while Comey couldn't provide evidence Trump colluded with Russian efforts to sabotage the election, and in fact confirmed he told the President he wasn't under investigation personally, there was plenty else to hurt his reputation.

We learned Comey feared the President might lie about their meetings and we learned Comey had even asked Sessions to be kept away from one-on-one meetings with him. We learned Trump had sought Comey's loyalty and encouraged him to drop investigations into disgraced former NSA head General Flynn's links to Russia. And we learned Comey is willing to leak information against Trump.

This is only Comey's word of course, and Trump has pushed back against it. A White House spokesperson even went as far as to say the president is "not a liar," which in the words of Elliott Smith, might just be the biggest lie.

All this left Washington's heart beating double time, and Sessions' turn on the stand threatened to do the same. In the end it wasn't anyway near as exciting while managing to be revealing in its own way. Sessions remained tight-lipped on anything Trump might have said or done, only rising from his mix of stupor and tetchiness to call suggestions of collusion with Russia a lie, and to explain Russia seemed to be a subject no one in the administration bothered to discuss.

He also didn't have much of an answer as to why he seemed to be so intimately involved in the firing of Comey despite previously claiming he would recuse himself from anything to do with the Russian investigations, and he denied discussing anything of importance with the Russian ambassador while failing to recall what he had actually discussed.

Basically, he seems to not recall quite a lot, other than the fact he definitely didn't do anything wrong. That's hardly a smoking gun either, but the Attorney General didn't shift the narrative or offer much in the way of cover for his boss. Speaking of his boss, he's been out stating his willingness to take to the stand himself to discuss Comey. Now that would be fascinating, because the one thing we've learned about Trump as President is he seems unable not to contradict himself and undermine the carefully concocted stories put out by his staff. I guess that leaves us waiting on you Mr. President.

 

What's Going On 

Violence struck Washington on Wednesday when 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson took his rifle to batting practice, opening fire on a Republican team made up of politicians, staff and lobbyists. The House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was left seriously injured with four others also wounded after Hodgkinson, a man taking his disgruntlement with the Trump and the Republican Party into horrific territory, launched his attack.

Yet more Russia related controversy was stirred when Trump's close friend Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, suggested the President might be weighing up removing Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed in the aftermath of the Comey firing to investigate Russian meddling in the election. Regardless of whether Trump could legally do so, it's hard not to look extremely guilty after firing two separate people leading investigations at least tangentially related to yourself.

Good on Britain. It has emerged Trump might no longer want his state visit if the British public is going to turn up and protest en masse, which they definitely will. It seems he doesn't want the embarrassment that might cause, which is funny if you think about it, given how generally embarrassing most of his behavior is. Still, who says protesting has no impact.

Speak Up! 

Sharon Van Etten has teamed up with Hercules & Love Affair to release a remixed version of her own benefit single "Not Myself" to commemorate the attack on an Orlando nightclub a year ago that killed 49. Proceeds from the single will go to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.

The ongoing row between Radiohead and a large group unhappy they are willing to perform shows in Israel shows no sign of abating. Artists for Palestine UK responded last week to Yorke for criticizing their criticism of his band. Acclaimed director Ken Loach went on record to say, "Thom's is a simple choice: will he stand for the oppressor or the oppressed?"

Los Angeles quartet The Regrettes released the video to "Seashore" this week, an anti-Trump resistance song aimed at men who look down on young women. Lead singer, 16-year old Lydia Night, is fast making a name for herself having also published an op-ed on her experiences attending the women's march at the start of the year.

Song of the Week: The War on Drugs - "Holding On"

The War on Drugs have a new album, A Deeper Understanding, out on August 25 via Atlantic, which is certainly worth getting excited about. For now, though, they've just released a video for "Holding On," telling the rather endearing story of a guy played by Frankie Faison (The Wire, Luke Cage, The Silence of the Lambs) going about his life in small town America. Given how upside down so much seems to be on the moment, just managing to hold on is not a bad place to be, provided the good times don't remain around the corner forever.

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