By Robert A. Vella
Shortly after Donald Trump took office in January 2017, evidence of corruption erupted into political scandals and constitutional crises which have only grown worse over time. In May of that year, after National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned (in February) and FBI Director James Comey was fired just a week before Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel to lead the Department of Justice investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, I speculated on this blog that Trump wouldn’t finish his first term as president and would probably resign beforehand (see: Trump’s megalomania is running amok, and it will eventually destroy him). Obviously, that speculation was wrong and it is why I am typically averse to guessing about future events which are never certain to occur.
Today, after a staggering level of political corruption and calamities wreaked upon this nation, Trump still sits in the Oval Office barely more than four months before the 2020 election. If he hasn’t resigned yet, why would he resign now? It’s probably a safe bet to assume that he won’t, and that he’ll fight to the bitter end to stay in the White House. An honorable president would willingly resign under the current circumstances for the good of the country; but, we all know Trump is not honorable. If there is any chance at all of him resigning or perhaps not running for reelection, I think it could happen only one way.
First, support for Trump and Republican congressional candidates would need to fall further in public opinion polls by about five more percentage points to approximately 35%. That would increase the anxiety within the GOP leadership to a point of panic. Consequently, they might consider making a deal with Trump to replace him as the party’s presidential nominee.
Second, for Trump to even consider such a deal, he would demand a lot in return. At the top of his list would surely be a guarantee of immunity from criminal prosecution and civil litigation against him, his family, and his close associates. Republicans in Congress would likely agree to such terms, but they would need consent from Democrats who would make their own demands. For Dems, who are holding all the cards right now, running against a highly unpopular president and party is a dream come true. They wouldn’t give up that advantage without getting something very valuable in return; and, that means we’re probably stuck with Trump until January 2021.
Here’s the news:
Over 9.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.
The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 2.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 125,039 deaths.
Republican super-PAC The Lincoln Project blasted President Trump in a new ad over a report that Russian military operatives offered bounties to Afghan militants to kill coalition forces, including U.S. troops.
“This heinous failure by the commander-in-chief to protect American soldiers in the field is unthinkable,” Reed Galen, co-founder of the anti-Trump group, said in a statement. “There aren’t words to describe Donald Trump’s dereliction of duty as Commander in Chief.”
“Congress should charge him for this crime,” co-founder Mike Madrid added. “Unfortunately, his enablers in the U.S. Senate, starting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will shrug off this war crime like he has everything else.”
In the minute-long spot, titled “Bounty,” a narrator says over footage of flag-draped caskets: “Now we know Vladimir Putin pays a bounty for the murder of American soldiers. Donald Trump knows too, and does nothing.”
“Putin pays the Taliban cash to slaughter our men and women in uniform, and Trump is silent, weak, controlled,” the narrator continues over footage of Trump and the Russian leader shaking hands. “Instead of condemnation, he insists Russia be treated as our equal. Instead of retaliation, he invites Putin to America.”
“When Trump tells you he stands by the troops, he’s right. Just not our troops,” the spot concludes.
Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, said that even if the denial were true, and the intelligence never made its way to the president, it would signal the incompetence of the Trump administration.
“I don’t believe this for a minute, but if it were true, it means that Trump is not even pretending to serve as commander in chief. And no one around him has the guts to ask him to. More evidence of their deadly incompetence,” she wrote, following the White House denial.
Her deputy at the time, Ben Rhodes, wrote: “In addition to being almost certainly a lie, the idea that Trump wouldn’t be briefed on Russia putting a bounty on US troops is even crazier than him being briefed and doing nothing.”
Asha Rangappa, a former CIA agent who works as an analyst for CNN, questioned why John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence, had not been fired if it was accurate that the president had not been apprised about the threat to the lives of US forces from an international adversary.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on criticism of its statement Saturday.
“He’s an embarrassment,” said Ron Kennedy, 72. “And I voted for him.”
A veteran of the Air Force, Kennedy said he had grown wary of the president’s blunt style over the last few years. But the turning point for him came this month when protesters outside the White House were pushed back by authorities so Trump could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church to be photographed by news crews.
“It turned me off,” Kennedy said. “Breaking up a peaceful protest just for a photo op.”
Four years ago, 57-year-old Keith Eaton viewed Trump as a refreshing change — an outsider who didn’t speak like a politician and appeared to act based on his gut.
“I just wanted to see what would happen,” said Eaton, who told himself: “At the very least it’s gonna be a circus we can watch.”
But Trump’s novelty has worn off, he said.
“The lack of leadership with this whole COVID thing, the lack of respect for the professionals that do this stuff … the last four months have turned me way, way more against him,” said Eaton, a firefighter. “There’s no way I would vote for him at this point. And a lot of guys I know feel the same.”
Donald Trump knows he’s losing.
The president has privately come to that grim realization in recent days, multiple people close to him told POLITICO, amid a mountain of bad polling and warnings from some of his staunchest allies that he’s on course to be a one-term president.
Trump has endured what aides describe as the worst stretch of his presidency, marred by widespread criticism over his response to the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide racial unrest. His rally in Oklahoma last weekend, his first since March, turned out to be an embarrassment when he failed to fill the arena.
What should have been an easy interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday horrified advisers when Trump offered a rambling, non-responsive answer to a simple question about his goals for a second term. In the same appearance, the normally self-assured president offered a tacit acknowledgment that he might lose when he said that Joe Biden is “gonna be your president because some people don’t love me, maybe.”
In the hours after the interview aired, questions swirled within his inner circle about whether his heart was truly in it when it comes to seeking reelection.
Trump fires official who informed Congress about whistleblower complaint – President Donald Trump has fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, who informed Congress about the initial whistleblower information about the Ukraine phone call that led to his impeachment.