On Monday, President Trump unleashed a stream of tweets that was especially heavy even for him; he tweeted 13 times over the span of roughly 12 hours. Some of the tweets were about fake news, some were about The New York Times, but at least two were about Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who’s been making noises as of late about Trump’s supposed collusion with the Russians, a story that by now is very old news for most political observers. On CNN that morning, Blumenthal appeared and accused the president of “weaponizing” the Department of Justice (DOJ) for “personal ends.”
This apparently dug at President Trump, likely because of the ongoing investigation by former FBI Director Robert Mueller into the Russian matter. “Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist! Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?” the president tweeted.
Of course, what the President was referring to is the fact that several times in his career, the senator has referred to performing military service in Vietnam, which would have been worthy of valor if it had actually taken place. But the problem is, it never did, and Blumenthal has admitted as much.
The facts are that Blumenthal did indeed serve in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a sergeant from 1970 to 1976 after receiving five draft deferments amidst the then-ongoing Vietnam War. But when Blumenthal finally did go into the Reserve, he did so in Washington, D.C. and Connecticut — at no time was he ever overseas. In 2008, Blumenthal was caught on video speaking to veterans who had returned recently from Afghanistan and Iraq, saying “We’ve learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.” The New York Times wrote about this instance in 2010, claiming that in 2003 also, Blumenthal suggested he had “returned home from Vietnam.”
On another occasion in 2008, Blumenthal insinuated he had been attacked by Vietnam War protesters for his military service overseas. “I served during the Vietnam era… I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse,” the senator recalled at a veterans’ ceremony in Shelton, Connecticut. Of course, there’s no record that Blumenthal ever experienced any of these personally; it’s quite unlikely he did.
In 2010, Blumenthal admitted, “On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that. I take full responsibility, but I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of military service.” He also insisted that his service stateside instead of in Vietnam involved “no special favors” and “no privileges.”
Just hours after Trump delivered his aforementioned tweets, Blumenthal fired back, writing on Twitter, “Mr. President: Your bullying hasn’t worked before, and it won’t work now. No one is above the law. This issue isn’t about me — it’s about the Special Counsel’s independence and integrity.”
Of course, this digital scuffle caught the attention of the collective news media, which made a story out of it. Less reported, however, is the fact that Blumenthal is currently leading a lawsuit of 30 Democratic Senators and 166 Representatives against the president for violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause states that the president is not allowed to accept any gifts or payments from foreign governments due to their potentially corrupting influence without the express approval of Congress.
The Democratic members of Congress that are party to the suit allege that Trump has not made all payments from foreign nations to his businesses public and believe that any such payments could indeed be a corrupting influence on the president. Meanwhile, Trump has argued that he doesn’t need to reveal such payments. The fact of the matter is that this particular clause of the Constitution has never been tested in a court and thus, no case law exists pertaining to it.
Although two other outside groups have filed similarly worded suits against the president, the one with Blumenthal’s name on it is the only one submitted by members of Congress, and it will be the more important case to resolve. To date, there’s been no response from the Trump administration, but none may be due until September.
In the meantime, Blumenthal can feel free to turn up the heat on President Trump over Russia and other issues.
One of those other issues is global warming. Blumenthal has made it clear that he believes that a rise in global temperatures has been caused by mankind and that actions must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Back in 2009, the senator said, “I urge the new Obama EPA to declare carbon dioxide a danger to human health and welfare so we can at last begin addressing the potentially disastrous threat global warming poses to health, the environment and our economy. We must make up for lost time before it’s too late to curb dangerous warming threatening to devastate the planet and human society.”
Blumenthal has taken legal action against public utilities in the Midwest and argued that coal-burning is responsible for some global warming. The Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals has now allowed Blumenthal’s suits in these cases to proceed. Blumenthal has taken the globalist position that “no reputable climate scientist disputes the reality of global warming. It is fact, plain and simple. Dithering will be disastrous.”
Previously, as the Attorney General of Connecticut, Blumenthal filed suit along with eight other states against the George W. Bush administration for “endangering air quality by gutting a critical component of the federal Clean Air Act.” President Obama subsequently reversed many of the environmental policies of the Bush administration, but the Supreme Court ruled for the federal government anyway in 2011. Recently, Blumenthal made clear his opposition to President Trump’s formalizing of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords.
It remains to be seen if, via his positions on climate, Russia and other matters, Blumenthal will rise to the level of more dogged Trump enemies in the Senate such as Senator John McCain of Arizona, but for now, he appears to be a significant enough thorn in the president’s side that Trump is determined to call him out by name — a dubious distinction in any Democrat’s mind to be sure.