Sunday, June 11, 2017
Many saw Trump taking out Jeb Bush in the early days of the primaries as beginner's luck. One by one the others went down in this Hungry for Power Games, including rising star Marco Rubio, GOP bad boy Ted Cruz, and even a last ditch appeal to reason in Governor John Kasich. They all proved no match for the Donald. In the end, he took out 16 Republican rivals!
Maybe this is the reason Republican leaders aren't willing to go after him on Capitol Hill. Even John McCain, who suffered an inordinate amount of abuse from Trump on the campaign trail despite not running himself, seemed lost in his questions to James Comey. He conflated two separate investigations seemingly for no other reason than to drag Hillary Clinton once again into this mess. Even Mackie's Republican colleagues appeared confused and eventually Chairman Burr brought his abstruse line of questioning to an end with a gavel.
There are two separate theories as to why the Republicans are so reticent to go after Trump, who has repeatedly shown he has no respect for the Grand Old Party. One is that his reality-show-style presidency provides a great cover for them to push through ugly legislation in Congress, like the so-called American Health Care Act. The other is that they are genuinely afraid of the potential chaos an impeachment trial would bring, as it could potentially undermine the entire party. After all, there are many in the GOP who went along with him during the campaign, including Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, who continue to give him every benefit of the doubt.
Whatever the case, Trump continues to enjoy all the executive privileges that come with being Commander-in-Chief. To this point, we have been relatively lucky in that he doesn't seem to understand the full magnitude of his authority, repeatedly sidetracked by his insatiable need to tweet. Even in regard to the Comey testimony, he couldn't leave well enough alone, saying he is 100% willing to testify about his nine separate interactions with James Comey, claiming that the former FBI director is a liar and a leaker. I'm sure his third-rate lawyer had to gasp when he heard the President blurt this out during a press conference with the Romanian president.
Trump apparently had a hard time finding a lawyer willing to act as his private legal counsel in this investigation. Some say he was rejected by no less than four top Washington law firms before finally retaining Marc Kasowitz of New York. Kasowitz has a rather dubious set of clients, but I suppose at this point beggars can't be choosy. The statement Kasowitz prepared following Comey's testimony was riddled with typos and wrong dates that essentially rendered it nonsense. He also seemed to have a poor grasp of what executive privilege entails, as Comey was perfectly within his rights to reveal the nature of his conversations with Trump as long as they didn't compromise ongoing investigations.
Maybe Trump has been watching House of Cards where President Francis Underwood finally decides to testify in penultimate episode before Congress only to use the moment to admonish the judicial committee as being just as guilty as he is for abuse of power? It would certainly make for great theater, but I doubt Congress wants to give Trump an open mic at this point.
It is clear that Trump is not going to be quiet on the matter. He thrives on confrontation. The press has been gleefully waiting for this moment to watch Trump punch, or rather tweet himself out of another tight corner. We saw how he survived a slough of allegations during the primaries and general election. The danger here is that if he survives, what will be left of our government? He left an election cycle in total ruin.
The odd part is that Republicans don't seem to care, at least not publicly. We hear there is a lot of anxiety behind the scenes but Ryan and McConnell put on pretty good poker faces when asked about Trump at press conferences. So, either they have some sort of exit strategy or taking down the government has been the plan all along.
It really makes you wonder how deep this Russian collusion might be. Did they sell the GOP soul to the devil in a last ditch hope of turning an election that seemed lost the day Trump descended the escalator? Or, do they see Russia as a conservative ally in their fight against the Liberal Hegemon Europe has become, hoping to go back to a more conservative world order which they better understand? Or, have conservatives shrunk so far into themselves that they would rather live in some tarnished past than confront the ever-changing political landscape of the world we live in. Whatever, the case, the United States is looking a whole lot like the United Kingdom after World War II, seeing its global influence recede with Russia helping to expedite this process.
The irony of all this is that Trump repeatedly said the US had lost its global authority. The world laughed at us, he would often jibe the Obama administration. Yet, here we are now literally the laughing stock of the world. Whether or not some collusion took place between Russia and conservative agents in America, the damage is done. We showed ourselves to be extremely vulnerable to outside influence. We allowed fake news stories to carry more weight than real news stories to the point a false equivalence was established between two candidates who couldn't have been further apart politically, ethically or morally. Trump emerged as the Post-Truth President, where a political candidate could literally get away with saying anything and no longer be held accountable for his words, let alone his actions.
Maybe this is why James Comey didn't trust Trump when he first met him at Trump Tower during the transition period, leading him to keep a journal of their unprecedented number of conversations? President-Elect Trump was no different than Candidate Trump, a man who curries favors in exchange for loyalty the same way a seedy real estate developer would. Only now Trump is trying to peddle influence on a much larger scale, considering himself above the law.
Of course, the former FBI director is no boy scout as we saw with the way he undermined Hillary's campaign at the 11th hour by briefly re-opening the investigation into her e-mail server. Maybe this is what poor Mackie was trying to get to, but couldn't quite figure out the line of questioning? After all, this was presumably the original reason why Comey was fired.
It is becoming ever more doubtful we will ever understand what actually happened on the Campaign Trail 2016. There appears to have been many conflicting forces at work and that Russia has become a convenient fall guy. In the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, our faith in democracy has been shattered and that there is little hope of getting it back.