Imagining Donald Trump’s Downfall: A Greek Tragedy in Five Acts – Opinion

Imagining Donald Trump’s Downfall: A Greek Tragedy in Five Acts – Opinion

The James Comey scandal embroiling the White House has the making of a tragedy –although the tragic figure is hardly heroic

Lawrence Douglas | The Guardian UK

Sophocles might have done it justice: a leader of immense power is so obsessed with perceived challenges to his legitimacy that he behaves in a manner that destroys whatever legitimacy he might have. It has the making of a tragedy – although in this case, the tragic figure is hardly heroic and the unfolding tragedy is potentially national in scope.

Act One     

President prowls White House, obsessed that an investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and a foreign adversary has cast a pall over his legitimacy and his “miraculous” electoral victory.    

He craves adulation and believes the inquiry is robbing him of adoration that is rightfully his. He derides the intelligence community, dismissing its conclusion that the adversarial power even interfered in the election. He lashes out erratically, turning on perceived enemies with wild accusations and barricading himself behind belief-beggaring fabrications. He insists he only lost popular vote thanks to millions of illegal voters and then defames former president, claiming that his predecessor wiretapped his phones.

Act two

President accomplishes virtually nothing in first hundred days of office except sowing domestic chaos and international confusion, but strongly feels that certain phantom successes have been obscured by the continuing inquiry conducted by the FBI director, a man he previously singled out for his courage. He attacks the investigation as a hoax, invented by the defeated party in the election and spread by a vast conspiracy of “fake news” organizations intent on his destruction.

Act three

President fires FBI director. In grammatically challenged dismissal letter, president thanks FBI director for “you [sic] informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation”. Because president has earned reputation of lying whenever it suits him, no one believes that FBI director ever issued these assurances.

President’s minions note that a president may dismiss an FBI director for any reason or for no reason at all, overlooking that a president may not fire a director to cripple a criminal investigation into the president’s own actions. Such a firing is not exercise in presidential prerogative. It is obstruction of justice.

Act four

President grants interview with member of fake news. During interview, he insists he wants “to find out if there was a problem with an election having to do with Russia”– astonishingly still refusing to unconditionally accept that the adversary did tamper with the electoral process.

Later in interview, president adds texture to claim he received assurances from FBI director that he, the president, was not under investigation. The first such assurance came at amicable private dinner at White House, during which FBI director pleaded to keep his job. The second and third assurances came during phone conversations.

President’s story attributes words and actions to FBI director that sound out of character; Comey, after all, is a man so dedicated to his independence that he refused to even play basketball with former president. In any case, no one believes current president, what with his well-earned reputation for self-serving deceit.

Act five

Fake news offers very different account of amicable private dinner. In this account, president sought to extract pledge of loyalty from FBI director; director demurred. Enraged by this story, president tweets that the now-former director “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

President fails to appreciate that tweet may constitute effort to intimidate a witness in ongoing criminal investigation. Large segments of intelligence community now doubt his judgment, leadership, and honesty, and opinion polls indicate overwhelming majority of Americans do not trust him; or find him temperamentally unfit to exercise his office.

Epilogue

President deposed under oath in course of continuing investigation. Constitutionally unable to tell truth, president perjures himself, leading to his impeachment in 2018. Collusion probe finds instances of criminal acts by members of president’s election team but none by president himself, who has since been removed from office.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On May 16, 2017 at 10:21 am

    MSNBC Rachel Maddow

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 17, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Trump is a President Gripped by Delusions of Absolute Power

    Jill Abramson | The Guardian UK

    We expect the leader of the United States of America to uphold the constitution, but this one confronts and threatens it every day

    ‘I have the absolute right” to share classified information with Russia. So, tweeted the president of the United States of America in defence of having spilled national security secrets to the Russians.

    Note that well, and put the emphasis on the word ABSOLUTE, because the president’s use of the word shows that he lacks any understanding of the USA constitution.

    America’s founding fathers were deathly afraid of centralised, absolute power. This is why the government they structured had three equal branches, and plenty of checks and balances. And the first amendment is first for a reason.

    Freedom of the press is guaranteed because the founders envisaged the press as a bulwark against absolute power. This goes to the heart of who we are, and what we might become.

    No one in the United States of America has absolute power or an absolute right to do anything that violates the constitution.

    This is American Law for Dummies, but Trump gives no indication of knowing its basic tenets. Fundamentals bear repeating. No one in the United States has absolute power or an absolute right to do anything that violates the constitution. But apparent violations seem to be occurring almost daily.

    In a stunning cascade of revelations from the New York Times and the Washington Post, we learn that Donald Trump has, allegedly, OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE.

    According to a contemporaneous memo written by James Comey – the former FBI director – after a conversation with the president, Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn, the national security adviser Trump fired for lying about his contacts with Russia. As we should know, Comey himself was later fired by the president.

    If the Flynn allegations are true, this is, according to the Brennan Centre of Constitutional Law, “an assault on the rule of law. The president’s request is beyond the pale and poses an extraordinary test for our democracy. Our system depends on the rule of law and checks and balances. This appears to be textbook obstruction of justice and abuse of power.”

    But then the charge sheet envisaged by many is now a long one. It says Trump violated his oath to protect the country by improperly disclosing highly classified information about impending terror attacks and sharing it with Russia, a country that is hostile to many USA policies. It says he trampled on Comey’s due process rights by firing him without cause and providing the public with a false pretext for the termination.

    It says Trump flouted anti-nepotism law by appointing his daughter and her husband to White House jobs. The former ethics tsars for presidents Obama and Bush agree that such law applies to the presidency.

    It says he trespassed on prohibitions on self-dealing and conflict of interest by continuing to profit from his ties to the Trump Organisation while his sons pursue foreign deals. Furthermore, it says his daughter’s brand has received trademarks from China while the White House is involved in myriad issues involving China. The real estate conglomerate owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is also actively seeking foreign investment, including in China.

    Whether or not these actions trigger articles of impeachment is a political question for the majority Republican party. But it seems highly probable that Trump has violated the law.

    Even Republicans see the gravity of this unfolding situation. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the house oversight committee, chooses his words with care, but if the Comey claims are true, he concludes that Trump resorted to an “extraordinary use of influence”.

    Legislators such as Chaffetz have been slow to defend democracy, but the beleaguered press has not. For without the enterprise and reporting of the New York Times and Washington Post, we would know nothing about the machinations of the president, his advisers and his family. Reporters have a key role. With Republicans controlling the legislative branch and with the supreme court leaning rightward, the free press must be the check on power the founders envisioned.

    Trump, according to Comey’s notes, told the former FBI director he would be glad to see journalists jailed for publishing “classified information”. But these are the very people the founders trusted to hold both power, and those in government, accountable.

    George Washington worried that a despot seeking absolute power could ruin the union. This was part of the reason he decided to step down after two terms. In his farewell address of 1796, he warned of the “disorders and miseries” that “gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual”. For sooner or later, he said, the “chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty”.

    It’s hard to see the legal overreach by Trump as rooted in anything other than the service of his own elevation. He is truly the kind of despot that Washington feared could ruin the country.

    The writer Gabriel García Márquez saw where delusions of absolute power inevitably lead. “When one reaches absolute power,” he wrote, “one loses total contact with reality.”

    A president so adrift from the USA constitution surely meets that terrible criterion.

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 17, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    MEMCON: Memo of Conservation

  • demerwater  On May 18, 2017 at 4:44 am

    More than anything else, the Trump presidency reminds me of the suspenseful plot of a book – ‘Seven Days in May’.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_in_May
    Trevor Noah made a credible case for President Trump being the first elected “African” President; rather than the previous “African American” President. He even joked that; should anything happen to the incumbent POTUS, we’d have a backup – in Africa!
    And now, the POTUS is leaving on a week-long trip away from the USA.
    I associate dictators with coups.
    In Africa.
    I note the absence of any mention of the VP in the recent hashing – and rehashing! – of the credible conflict between the POTUS and the FBI.
    My own opinion is that, in this tussle, the mouthpieces and front people of the White House establishment, are no match for the measured, experienced responses of the FBI.
    Is it my faint hope? Or a predictable reaction?
    That we may be witnesses to the ultimate recourse to the US Constitution.

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 19, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Most people honestly don’t get that the USA would NOT elect a black president.

    Or a woman president ……

    One female Israeli journalist had and argument with a Jewish American male in a restaurant in the USA. The man was insisting that America would never elect a black man .. Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination against Obama.

    The journalist reached over the table at the restaurant, touched the man’s wrist and said to the man “Mark my word, They will nominate Barack Obama and elect him President, before they elect any woman.” She got on the plane and returned to Israel – the outcome is history.

    For all intents and purposes, President Barack Obama is a white man – he spent his formative years with a white mother and white, successful grandparents ….

    He knows how white people think!

    Black and White is NOT about DNA – It is more about political expediency.

    Barack Obama is a product of his environment.

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 20, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Melania Trump Forgoes Headscarf on Saudi Trip. Her Husband Criticized Michelle Obama for the Same Thing in 2015

    In 2015, Donald Trump said the Saudis were insulted when first lady Michelle Obama didn’t cover her head

    The Associated Press | Haaretz

    Melania Trump’s decision not to wear a headscarf upon arrival in the Middle East is drawing attention on social media.

    But her decision is consistent with custom for female foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also shunned head coverings during visits this year, showing how common it is for high-level female visitors to skip wearing a headscarf or an abaya, the loose-fitting black robe worn by Saudi women.

    President Donald Trump had criticized former first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a head scarf during a January 2015 visit to Saudi Arabia with then-President Barack Obama.

    Saudi Arabia is the first stop on Trump’s first foreign trip as president.

    NB: Donald Trump supporters should face the fact that Trump is a weak leader

  • Clyde Duncan  On May 20, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Cash-strapped Socialist Venezuela [Guyana’s Neighbour] Gave $500,000 to Donald Trump Inauguration

    Despite food shortages, a state-owned oil firm was one of the largest corporate donors of the event in Washington

    The Associated Press | Haaretz

    CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolas Maduro may be struggling to feed Venezuela but his socialist administration still managed to make a $500,000 donation to Donald Trump’s inauguration, records released Wednesday show.

    Inaugural committee records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Citgo Petroleum, a U.S.A. affiliate of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, was one of the biggest corporate donors to events surrounding the swearing-in ceremony.

    The donation topped that of some U.S.A. corporate giants including Pepsi ($250,000), Walmart ($150,000) and Verizon ($100,000) and was on par with the likes of JP Morgan Chase and Exxon, which each donated $500,000. It came in under Bank of America’s $1 million contribution.

    Even while accusing the United States of America of trying to overthrow him, Maduro has been careful not to antagonize the new U.S.A. president. But the Trump administration has recently stepped up criticism of Venezuela’s government. In February, Trump met with the wife of a jailed opposition leader at the White House and on Tuesday the U.S.A. State Department issued a statement decrying violence against protesters.

    “Those responsible for the criminal repression of peaceful democratic activity … will be held individually accountable for their actions by the Venezuelan people and their institutions, as well as the international community,” the statement read.

    Tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the street Wednesday to protest Maduro and demand new elections, denouncing what they deem a steady slide toward authoritarianism coupled with pressing economic woes that include triple-digit inflation, vast food shortages and a rise in violence.

    The South American nation has the world’s largest oil reserves and once commanded a booming economy, but those days are a distant memory to Venezuelans who accuse Maduro of pilfering the nation’s oil wealth.

    Fear of Russian Foothold in U.S.A. Oil Industry

    PDVSA recently put up a nearly 50 percent stake in Citgo as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan from the Russian company Rosneft, drawing criticism from U.S.A. legislators who worry a default by Citgo would allow Russian leader Vladimir Putin to get a foothold in the American oil industry.

    “We are extremely concerned that Rosneft’s control of a major U.S.A. energy supplier could pose a grave threat to American energy security,” six senators wrote in an April 4 letter to the U.S.A. Treasury secretary.

    *Vladimir Putin, Russia’s economic hit man, is taking a page out of China’s book

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