Day: May 18, 2017
That was the slogan of the protesters who sought, and eventually achieved, the removal of Slobodan Milosevic from power in Serbia. He provided the opportunity himself, by calling early elections that he lost. The demonstrations that brought him down were in support of the election result.
“He’s finished” would also be a good slogan for Americans seeking to unseat President Trump, who is likewise prone to self-inflicted wounds. Our system doesn’t allow early elections, but certainly Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey in hope of stymieing the investigation of the president’s campaign’s ties to Russia fits in that category. We also know Trump specifically hoped Comey would can the investigation of former National Security Adviser Flynn’s connections to the Russians. The firing has guaranteed that the investigation will continue, now conducted by an impeccably professional Special Counsel.
The scandal over the President’s revelation of highly classified material to the Russian Foreign Minister has made things much worse. I confess it is not clear what precisely he said that was so highly classified. The US government had already blocked computers and tablets from flights originating in the Middle East. So it was obvious we had some intelligence about that. Government officials have also been talking openly about the Islamic State plotting operations against the US in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, which US-backed Kurdish and Arab forces are investing. What more than this the President might have revealed is unclear.
But that he revealed anything off the cuff and without proper preparation is mind boggling. For good reasons, the intelligence community is extraordinarily jealous of the information it makes available, and it already has ample reason to resent this president. The implications of revealing highly classified information are manifold: they could affect not only the source of the information, but all America’s liasion relationships with intelligence services abroad. The FBI is no less proprietary and has responded to his threat to blackmail Comey with tapes of their conversations by making known the contents of contemporary memoranda recounting. Touché, mon ami.
It could still take months, if not years, to remove this grossly incompetent and ill-prepared president from office. Republicans, who control the Congress, are just beginning to distance themselves and will want much more documentary evidence of his malfeasance before embarking on the perilous course of either impeaching him for “high crimes and misdemeanors” or alternatively removing him from office for inability to discharge its powers and duties, as provided for in the 25th amendment to the constitution. But one of those outcomes is starting to look inevitable.
In the meanwhile though he is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican, to start this weekend. The first two stops are pretty much the friendliest on earth to Trump. Netanyahu and King Salman share the hope he will focus on doing in Iran, even as Trump issues a waiver to allow the suspension of Iran sanctions to continue because of Tehran’s faithful implementation of the nuclear deal he threatened to tear up on his first day in office. The contradictions are head spinning. So too is the notion that the good Pope Francis will do anything but ream out Trump, gently but expertly, for his indifference to the poor and favoring of the rich.
It would be a miracle if this President got through a foreign trip without a major gaffe. He might do better to stay home and try to mend his relations with the Congress and his broken White House, but he is instead complaining that no president has ever been treated as badly as he has been. His paranoia will increase far from home.
He’s finished. The question is how much more damage he will do before he is gone.