HOW TRUMP WILL LEAVE THE OVAL OFFICE
Okay, there is a lot of speculation this morning about how much trouble Trump is actually in. Republicans are screaming “criminal leaks” at the top of their lungs, trying to distract from the fact that Trump is now the target of an FBI criminal investigation. Even Nicholas “I Go to Africa So You Don’t Have To” Kristof is going native. Comparing Trump’s Russia collusion with Nixon’s sabotage of Johnson’s peace deal to end the war in Vietnam, Kristof takes a deep breath and exudes this: “To me, that, too, would amount to treason.” (Lotta commas, there, Nick, to say something real simple.) Other pundits are talking about special prosecutors and 9/11 style “investigations.” I think we can all agree that things are getting very serious for Trump. He just might be forced from office one way or another. Now comes speculation about whether he’ll actually leave if impeached. He has never admitted that he’s done a single thing wrong or that he’s told a single lie, so why should he admit to high crimes and misdemeanors? Some are saying that Bannon and Trump will turn the White House into the Alamo and be the last men standing.
If it comes down to it, they’ll get him out of there. But how? Well, I happen to have a story that might shed some light on how Trump will actually be forced out of the Oval Office.
Back in 1970, Major General Samuel W. Koster Jr. was enjoying his position as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. In fact, he was Supe when I graduated the year before. All of a sudden, the My Lai massacre was exposed by Seymor Hersh, Lt. Calley was charged with murder, and Koster, who was in command of the Americal Division and actually ordered the attack on My Lai, was accused of covering up the massacre. He was stripped of his Distinguished Service Medal, demoted to Brigadier General and relieved of his position as Superintendent at West Point.
And there things stood for several days. Koster had been fired and ordered to leave his position at West Point, but he didn’t leave. A couple of generals at the Pentagon called him on the phone and ordered him to remove himself from West Point, but he refused. So a lowly Major, who happened to be a friend of mine, was given a ticket to New York and told to rent a car and go up to West Point and get Koster out of there. He did as he was told and arrived at the Headquarters Building at West Point armed with a paper copy of the orders relieving Koster of his command and ordering him out of there. He told Koster’s secretary he wanted to see the general. She went into his office and came back out and informed the Major that Koster wouldn’t see him. So this Major, a man who stood FIVE RANKS beneath Major General Koster, opened the door to Koster’s office, walked in there, handed Koster the written orders removing him as Superintendent and told him he was under orders to stand there until Koster vacated his office. And he did it. He stood there until Koster gathered up some papers and jammed them in a briefcase and physically left the Headquarters Building. That’s what it took to get Koster out.
Koster was assigned to a no-show job elsewhere in the Army for three years while he appealed his ouster. He lost his appeals and was forced to retire in 1973. At that time, he hired a West Point classmate of mine as his lawyer, a man he had tagged as a “troublemaker” when he was a cadet at West Point. My classmate spent the next 12 years filing appeal after appeal for Koster, trying to get his second star back. Koster paid him thousands of dollars in legal fees for this snipe hunt. Ultimately, the appeals failed and Koster gave up. But not without a fight.
I would expect Trump to adopt the Koster strategy. He’ll stay in office until he is forcibly removed from the White House. Then he’ll spend the rest of his life and millions of dollars fighting to get his job back.
And he’ll lose, just like Koster did.