Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I have tried to avoid writing about Trump. But after the last week, it is unavoidable to jump into the unfolding events. With his presidency still at under 200 days, it is now clear that things could spin out of control. So, resistance is impossible with so much happening.
For clarity let's run through the main events in sequence. First, Trump fires the head of the FBI, James Comey. The FBI was conducting an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's people and the Russians. Second, Trump admits he did seek to influence the investigation. This is despite White House statements to the contrary. Then, third, in a bizarre twist, the day after firing the FBI head, he entertains the Russians in the White House. During this meeting, Trump handed over classified information. This intelligence came from the Israelis. Once again, the White House denied it happened. Only to have Trump contradict them. He asserts he can hand over whatever information he wishes to whoever.
Meanwhile, it is reported that the Russians are laughing at Trump. They brag about his former security advisor, General Flynn, being used to influence Trump. By the way, Flynn had to resign for lying about his connections with Turkey and the Russians. It’s also suggested he stopped a US military attack on Ragga in favour of the Turks.
Fact. All 17 US intelligence agencies agree that the Russians sought to influence the presidential election. Yet, Trump still invited them to the White House. Moreover, there appears to have been no consequences for their actions. In fact, the contrary. Trump has embraced them. That in itself should be setting off alarm bells.
The fired FBI head has resurfaced to reveal that he kept notes of all contacts with Trump. This follows threats from Trump that he may have recorded their meetings. Trump may come to regret his treatment of Comey. The man enjoyed high levels of popularity in the FBI. Agents don't like the treatment Comey received. Threats and intimidation have a way of backfiring with law enforcement officers.
To get to the bottom of all these issues, a special counsel is now appointed to investigate the matter. Former FBI director Robert Mueller is the man and the investigation is now criminal. Thus, Trump has no input or control. Don’t forget the US constitution is designed to protect the nation state. This is what Trump is now up against.
Even with all this, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The unfolding events look like a wet dream for the Democrats. Yet, their enthusiasm for impeachment looks a little misplaced. The Republicans hold a majority in deciding whether the process should go forward. To date, few Republicans have come out to talk about impeachment. They are seeking the facts. Playing a waiting game. Plus, restraining them is the fact that support for Trump remains strong among Republican voters. Timing is also an issue. With mid-term elections due within 18 months. The Republicans will be looking for this episode not to have a significant impact. At this time they can argue that all we have is a ‘he said, she said’ situation with little tangible evidence.
Sight should not be lost that Trump remains a ruthless operator and an effective communicator. He can reach out to his support base to deflect much of the criticism. His hard-core supporters will continue to believe his difficulties arise from a biased media. He'll play that 'fake news' card as much as possible.
Dangers do lurk in all this. Driving Trump’s response will be his overriding survival instinct. Let's not forget that he enjoyed a surge in support when he launched cruise missiles at Syria a couple of weeks ago. The impact of that move registered with the Donald. This weekend he has a US naval task force sitting off the Korean Peninsula. An incident there would be a useful diversion.
In summary, nothing is proven at the moment. The omens are hard to read. Trump will fight with all the tools at his disposal. There, perhaps, sits the greatest risk. Some political commentators are already getting ahead of themselves. Bill Maher is taking bets the Trump will be gone by Christmas. I'm not so sure.
Even so, the White House is in chaos. Distracted by the need to fight fires, getting legislation through will prove tough. Despite this, Trump may be able to hang on, deflect attention and defend his presidency. Having said that, we are now in uncharted waters. Never so early in a presidency has such a situation arisen. Comparisons with Watergate whilst not apt will continue to be made. Meanwhile, the Donald is feeling the pressure. His petulant outburst at a Coast Guard graduation ceremony this week was telling. A cornered man, I have no doubt he will come out fighting.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.