Robert Reich, who was secretary of labour during Bill Clinton’s presidency, says that if ‘Trump removed Comey to avoid being investigated, that’s an obstruction of justice – an impeachable offence’. When Trump tweeted that Comey ‘better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’ that’s intimidation, also an impeachable action.
So now that Trump has fired Comey and assistant attorney-general Rosenstein has appointed former FBI boss Mueller to investigate all this, will Trump be impeached?
No, says Reich, because in the present Congress, 22 Republicans would have to join with House Democrats, which isn’t going to happen. He concludes that ‘barring a “smoking gun” that shows Trump’s complicity with Russian operatives in interfering in the 2016 election – Trump’s fate seems to hinge on the midterm elections of 2018. … If Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet, 22 House Republicans may abandon him’ before those elections. Even then, the House can impeach a president, as it did Bill Clinton for saying blowjobs are not sex, but the Senate has to convict an impeachee, which it didn’t do to Clinton.
Trump still has the support of 75 per cent of Republican voters, which makes Republican officeholders reluctant to dump him.
The central cause of the current dump-Trump frenzy is Russiagate – the notion that Putin and Co, in collaboration with Trump and his campaign managers, hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign to subvert it. The Clinton faction of Democrats is banging this drum for all it’s worth, and some of the commentariat reckon their goal is to install Pence as president, the better to plan wars and bargain away Social Security and Medicare.
Noam Chomsky agrees, adding that the Russians-bagged-Hillary story is itself ‘a joke’, given that the US ‘doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like’, including helping get Boris Yeltsin elected president of Russia.
In any case, Russiagate on its own is not big enough to get a Washington consensus on dumping Trump. Israel, however, could be.
When Trump bragged to the Russians that he had intelligence about ISIS plots being hatched in Syria, he said enough for them to figure out that his secret source was Israeli intelligence, which means that a Mossad agent in Syria could now be in mortal peril. And spy agencies cut off their supply of intelligence when they are betrayed – as the US threatened to do when Whitlam started talking about their spy base at Pine Gap, and Israel might be considering that right now.
These days, Republicans support Israel even more strongly than Democrats do, so if Mike Pence and the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus – a new Republican group advocating Israeli ‘victory’ over Palestine – team up with like-minded Democratic congresspersons, they could impeach Trump, especially if Israel wants them to.
Of course, even Mossad might be stumped when it comes to figuring out what Trump thinks about Israel or Palestine, or anything else really.
What is widely understood about Pence is that he’s a reliable believer in America’s right to bomb anyone anywhere, and that he would replace Trump’s MadMan-ocracy with a far-right Christian theocracy.
Trump is clearly nuts, but there is serious speculation over how nuts. Hordes of dementia experts have listened to tapes of Trump speaking in previous decades and concluded that he now uses filler words such as ‘like’, ‘very’ and ‘um’, that he rarely finishes a sentence, uses non-specific nouns (‘thing’), and has a range of four adjectives (uuge, tremendous, terrific and fantastic) – and that he used to speak more like a normal person.
Dr Steven Beutler suggested in a recent New Republic article that the president get a blood test for tertiary syphilis, since he exhibits multiple symptoms of the disease and brags about his tremendous number of ‘conquests’, many with women he paid for sex.
Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, is demanding the White House have a psychiatrist on staff. Lieu, who is a former military prosecutor in the US Air Force, has emerged as the most acerbic Trump critic on social media.
When Tony Schwartz wrote Trump’s first book, The Art of the Deal, he had to listen to hundreds of the then real estate mogul’s phone calls and sit through dozens of his meetings. Schwartz recalls, ‘I can never remember anyone disagreeing with him about anything… when he feels threatened or thwarted, Trump moves into a fight-or-flight state … [and his] rationality and reflection shut down… This is what makes his access to the nuclear codes so dangerous and frightening.’
By law, the only person who can fire American nuclear weapons is the president, and he is not required to consult anyone.
There are innumerable ways this could end badly. I predict the Trump presidency will end with a nightmarish bang, accompanied by a massive chorus of drawn-out whimpers.
Phillip Frazer listens to birds sing up on coorabellridge.com.