Friday, May 12, 2017
What Trump Is Hiding
Whatever Trump is hiding must be serious because he has taken enormous risks to cover it up. In firing Comey, he committed an act inarguably punishable by impeachment. Firing the official investigating you is patently an obstruction of justice. The first article of impeachment againt Nixon was obstruction of justice.
There may be other, earlier acts by Trump to obstruct justice in the matters now under investigation, but this one was right out in front of God and everybody. It was brazen, to say the least. It was also crudely done in haste in an amazing whirl of White House confusion, with no coherent White House version of what it was all about. To everyone's astonishment Trump has even contradicted his own spokes-people as to whether he was following the recommendations of the Justice Department leadership or just following his own whim.
Ironically, if he wanted to create a furor that has legs he has certainly done it! But as some commentator has said, to avoid a scandal a bigshot may risk a furor.
This could become more than a furor, however. Trump has actually chosen to risk prison, since obstruction of justice is also a jailable offense.
What's he hiding? It could be one of four things:
1. Treasonable collusion with the Russians to tip the election or do other anti-American acts.
2. More ordinary criminal acts like money-laundering. (Why is there a servor in Trump Towers connected to a Russian bank? Why has the Senate asked the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Treasury to investigate Trump's financial doings?)
4. Violating heavy duty laws against organized crime, e.g. (RICO) or doing business with overseas wrong-doers (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).
3. Not being rich. This is not a crime, except in Trump's own propaganda about himself. If the investigation went after his money ties to Russian, his tax returns would likely become public especially now that his attormeys are claiming to have read them and that they include no Trump businesses in Russia. (Naive attorneys! Never heard of frontmen corporations?)
There's a fourth thing that may be motivating Trump's awkward, pathetically crude attempt to hide the truth. It may be that he's just too stupid to act other than he is acting. In other words, he isn't really hiding a crime nor hiding the fact he isn't rich. He's just an idiot who doesn't understand obstruction of justice, who genuinely doesn't understand that a president is not above the law and, most, of all does not understand that Donald Trump is not above the law. He may have fired Comey simply because the investigation into Russian interference in our election raises a spectre that Trump did not actually win the presidency fair and square. Trump wants that inference gone! He HAS to be seen as the big winner of the election. His ego requires that. So he wants the investigation ended.
Keep this in mind: the recurring theme in Trump's blatherings is his chest-beating about having won the presidency. He can't get over it. Winning is everything to him, and winning the presidency appears to have genuinely surprised him. More than that, it confirms this very insecure man's hype about how wonderful he is. He can start to believe his own propaganda.
No one must take this blue blanket of security away from him. He needs it. Desperately. He refers to it over and over. By contrast I can't recall any prior president publicly boasting of his win. Weirdly, Trump is still harping on it almost seven months after election day. (The day after I posted this the NY Times did a piece on this obsession of Trump's. Trump Still Seethes Over Lack of Credit for Election Win)
Whether he is now acting out of stupidity or in a deliberate cover-up, it is bizarre that this desperate need to cling to his "win" might have driven him to do the very thing which actually can cause him to lose the presidency. In firing Comey he has done something which is in and of itself an impeachable act. It would likely be a lot harder to make out a convictable charge on any treasonous aspects of his conduct vis-vis the Russians or to prove the "mens rea" (guilty mind or intent) of money-laundering. But obstruction of justice is pretty simple as an impeachment offense. While a criminal court would demand evidence of mens rea, the impeachment process doesn't have such standards. An impeachable offense is what a majority of each house of Congress says it is, and so is the standard of proof.
Nor does the underlying act being covered up have to be a serious offense criminal offense. Recall that Bill Clinton was charged with obstruction of justice in the impeachment proceedings against him on the basis he had lied about his affair with "that woman". It didn't matter whether or not the underlying act (sex) was impeachable. The lying was enough to support a charge of obstruction.
Cover-ups are very risky but the temptation to bury one's sin is often too great. Any such attempts inevitable involve lying or destroying evidence or getting rid of the investigators or bribing witnesses. All of these techniques of coverup are relatively easy to discover and to prove. I always told my candidates that: "There are no secrets. If there is something in your past that is not good, let me know now so we can prepare for dealing with it appropriately when it comes out. Because it will come out."
(But note:I did not work on behalf of people who had done truly bad things.)
Aside from the no-secrets aspect of life, is Trump just too stupid to do a cover-up? Is he actually just floundering around, trying to hush the talk of Russian interference simply because it annoys him? Has he created the appearance of terrible guilt inadvertently?
Yes, that is possible. This is an extremely stupid man. He is cunning in some ways but what intelligence he has, modest as it is, is often derailed by his very warped personality. He is the classic spoiled brat, the little rich kid who has never been denied anything. At the same time, like many rich people, he is very insecure. Inheriting a fortune from Daddy is often debilitating. Now — finally — he can say to himself, "I've done somthing really big on my own. I have won the presidency."
Maybe the terror of losing that sense of achievement is making him do stupid stuff and look guilty when he isn't.
Naw. On second thought, the weight of the evidence is that he is guilty of something. For example, here's just one chapter in the Trump saga that points strongly to serious guilt, including collusion against the USA with our enemy Iran. Yes, Iran. The possible range of Donald Trump's very serious crimes just takes my breath away. Some of that range, including the Iran dealings, are laid out in this compelling article: Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker.
Read it and weep. Not for Trump. For us.
The Trump Tower that never opened.