Napoleon’s famous 100 Days (actually 110) ended in defeat and final exile. Do Trump’s augur a similar ignominious end? 10 Days of calamity make it no longer a completely spurious question.
Firing FBI Director Comey alone would rock any presidency. Trump admitting he did it on national television to shut down the investigation? Only to meet the Russian foreign minister and ambassador the next morning in the Oval Office and say the same? And then leak the most sensitive code word intelligence on ISIS to the Russians?
Gelded congressional Republicans valiantly strive to remain publicly, serenely detached. Their twin goals remain passing a radical Rightist legislative agenda and keeping their majorities in 2018. Tax cuts and eviscerating Medicaid dwarf constitutional niceties about separation of power and blatant Russian electoral interference.
Comey’s alleged documents show Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice. Only then did the Deputy Attorney General appoint former FBI Director Mueller as special prosecutor.
More importantly, 79% of Republicans still approve of Trump. Trump’s current vise-like grip on the Republican base keeps him politically alive. His popularity cows or encourages congressional Republicans – depending on their tribal radicalization.
Two pillars in the base support Trump: the small tax cut neo-Romney wing and the larger white tribalist segment. The latter opted out of liberal democratic empiricism long ago for symbolic emotional manipulation. They also largely embrace Putin and Russia as ethno-racial or ethno-religious allies. As we’ve pointed out for years. Mainstream media, as just one example, still misses Evangelical embrace of Putin and Trump even today – and the reasons why.
Impeachment, a fantasy for many, remains merely that. SSCI and HPSCI are oversight committees. They lack the investigatory resources and bandwidth to mount sustained investigations themselves sufficient to overthrow a presidency – even if Burr et al. would ever allow matters to go that far. Should the political climate entertain ending a Trump presidency, any SSCI and HPCI review of Executive reports would be ancillary.
As we have long said, the Russian penetration of the American political system is massive, pervasive and far beyond one election cycle. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is professional and dedicated. It is, however, by culture, tradition and capability ill-suited and equipped to pursue such open, public foreign political subversion. America urgently needs to revamp its Intelligence Community perspective and resources for this new open active measures era.
On the more narrow issue of Mueller’s election investigation, his record promises thorough, disciplined work. Yet, as we’ve noted here before re Iran Contra, legal investigations are not the same as counterintelligence. And his work will be in secret. To build public political consensus to confront Trump in the interim requires more. Mueller’s meanwhile a blessing to congressional Republicans. He buys them time.
The public deserves a Joint Committee or independent Commission like Iran Contra or 9/11. A full public airing of facts and the record of Russian involvement with Trump and Moscow’s hacking is essential. Mueller could work in parallel (ideally he would have started work after). Unfortunately, Lindsey Graham is right; Mueller’s appointment likely will deflate political will to set one up.
Would Trump resign? Could his narcissism allow it? Some Trump biographers think so. What of Pence? He already is deeply implicated in the Flynn transition cover up and other public lies.
A week, however, is an eternity with Trump. He already rages in speeches and tweets about his unique persecution. Watch this space. We wouldn’t hold a breath yet.
The more likely political course? Trump limps along, damaged and damaging. Those whose opinion can be mobilized against Trump are so already. Separation of powers can only save the Republic when men and women in the institutions find the will to act. Even if it wanted to live up to the Constitution, the congressional GOP made a double Faustian bargain with Trump: it doubled down on the white tribalist rejection of Enlightenment principles.
Trump, the GOP and its minority tribal base – all three now hold us hostage. Likely until 2018 at least.