How We Got Here
Can we just recap how we have gotten to where we are today. The President is currently a potential target in a counter-espionage investigation involving conspiring with a foreign enemy, Russia, to subvert the democratic process in the 2016 election. That President was possibly negotiating with that same enemy to subvert the stated US policy about sanctions on Russia implemented by then President Obama. Major advisers in the Trump campaign like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner have lied about their contacts with the Russians and at least two of those advisers were actually being paid by Russian interests. When presented with clear evidence that his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was compromised by the Russians and had probably lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians by the acting Attorney General, the President not only fires the AG but also conspires with the head of the House Intelligence Committee to prevent the AG from testifying about her warnings. The President then keeps the NSA in his position where he has access to the most important intelligence secrets of our country for 18 days until Flynn’s actions are revealed in the press.
The President then fires the head of the agency running the counter-espionage investigation, explicitly naming that investigation as a rationale for his firing. At the same time it is revealed that there is an ongoing investigation into whether the President had been engaged in money laundering for Russian oligarchs and others using his various casino and real estate projects. The very next day, the President meets with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador in a White House meeting closed to the US press but attended by the official Russian new agency TASS. The meeting was at the request of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The Russian Ambassador was the most important Russian contact that the President’s senior campaign advisers lied about and he was not mentioned in the White House statement of the meeting until pictures from TASS were released showing him there. In addition, in that same meeting, the President provides details to the Russians about a plot based on intelligence gathered by an important ally, Israel, that the US was not authorized to share and had the highest security classification in American intelligence. Using those details, it is feared that Russia could “backtrack” the details to determine the source of that intelligence, putting the source at extreme risk. In addition, the President’s leak has made Israel and other foreign allies reluctant to continue to share critical intelligence with the United States.
What was also interesting about that White House meeting is what was not discussed. There was no confronting the Russian Foreign Minister over evidence the Russians interfered in the 2016 election.
Nor was there any discussion of similar interference in the recent Dutch and French elections. Nor was there any condemnation of the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine and their continued effort to destabilize that country. Nor was their any discussion of Russia’s efforts to prop up Assad in Syria, while attacking the democratic Syrian resistance and actually protecting ISIS.
If someone had drafted a book or movie proposal like this, it would probably be rejected. But it is the reality of President Trump. One of the most ridiculous tropes coming from the talking heads these days is that the President is losing credibility that he will need when there is a real, not self inflicted, crisis. Let’s get real. Trump has absolutely no credibility left. And he has had virtually every one of his advisers go out and lie for him, and then undercut them. He has now destroyed the credibility of virtually every senior adviser.
The newer trope is that Trump needs a change in his staff in order to get the White House under control. That ignores the true nature of the problem, which is Trump himself. It is not that Trump is being especially badly served by his advisers. It is that Trump can not take advice, especially critical advice, and is incapable of taking the time and effort to understand the details and complexities of various issues that is actually required to be a President.
It is also clear that the Republican party will do nothing about this. In any other world, impeachment hearings would already be getting underway. But not with the current extremist and power hungry Republican party. In the past, it would be time for a Walter Cronkite moment, where a respected independent voice would say “this will not stand”. Unfortunately, that person no longer exists. I’m increasingly thinking our democracy is doomed.
I’ve also written about this and other issues on my personal blog at [tidalsoundings.blogspot.com]