Former presidential strategist Steve Bannon shocked both the faithful and nonfaithful by predicting Donald Trump has only a 30 percent chance of completing his first term. This from an ardent supporter, while thousands of ardent opponents are hoping, praying and seeking paths to make Trump a less-than-one-term president.
The issues are (1) will he in fact not complete this term and (2) if he doesn’t, why? Those questions were posed to me by a journalist friend who likes to bait me by asking me the unanswerable.
I took the bait.
I believe there is some chance he will not complete his term, but place the odds much higher than Bannon–I’d say he has an 80 percent chance of lasting all four years.
Most depends on what Special Counsel Robert Mueller III comes up with. More on that later.
There is also the possibility of the vice president invoking the 25th Amendment, saying the president is for mental or other reasons unable to do his job and getting a majority of the cabinet to go along. I think this is unlikely–especially since it would ultimately need the sanction of Congress if Trump contested his removal.
Another possibility is if he is found to be in violation of the constitution’s “emoluments clause,” which forbids him from taking gifts from foreign governments. Many legal minds and governmental ethicists believe he is in clear violation because his far-flung business interests and his partial ownership of Washington’s Trump International Hotel already make him the beneficiary of foreign governmental money. Legally he cannot be an owner of that DC hotel.
I think he would resign the presidency rather than completely sell off all his businesses that receive foreign government funds and put them into a genuine blind trust. Currently he entrusts them to his family, which hardly qualifies as a “blind” trust.
As to Mueller’s investigations, there remains no doubt that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. The issue is whether there was “collusion” with the campaign–not a crime but an impeachable offense–or “conspiracy,” which is a crime.
Worse, there is the matter of obstruction of justice, which many legal minds are sure has occurred. Though unproven, this would be very serious–clearly impeachable and some argue that he could be indicted for the crime even though he is a sitting president.
This is all speculative because we really don’t know what Mueller has or will eventually come up with.
I don’t believe this House will impeach–or the Senate convict–unless they are so devastated in the mid-terms that he becomes a major liability to the Republican party. Should the Dems take over it could be a different story.
Most likely to cause his resignation is if Mueller comes up with indictments against his family: Ivana, Don Jr. and/or Jared Kushner. Based on documented incidents, this is a distinct possibility. I think he would opt to quit if he could trade resignation for dropping charges against them.
But–like the old radio character “The Shadow”–only Mueller knows and he ain’t talking.
Don Rose contributes to The Contrary Perspective and he is a regular writer for the Chicago Daily Observer.
14 thoughts on “Trump a 0.5-Term President?”
Some quick observations [adding up to more than I’d intended to post]: 1.) Pence leading the charge to remove Trump is something that hadn’t occurred to me. I have no doubt Pence was placed on the ticket to cement the votes of the most Looney-Tunes “Christian” element of GOP faithful (oh, faithful! Get it?). These folks did not believe for a moment that Trump is “a religious man.” The only thing he worships is Donald J. Trump!; 2.) it’s become pretty clear that elements in Russia did undertake to INFLUENCE, thru ads and social media posts (propaganda), the US election. But I still don’t accept the ubiquitous descriptions in the media like “interference,” “meddling,” “hacking,” etc. Such language is part of the larger propaganda campaign to paint Russia as a Major Enemy; 3.) I think it highly unlikely impeachment proceedings can succeed. The Dems would have to gain an overwhelming majority in Congress next year to carry such votes. If Trump was to resign, can anyone doubt for a nanosecond that President Pence would grant him a full pardon??
There is another possible outcome of this disaster that our country has brought upon itself. Trump could die of natural causes. I don’t care what his personal physician says for public consumption, the man is NOT physically healthy (leaving aside his mental health altogether). He’s over 70, he’s carrying a lot of weight around and he does not sleep! He prefers to engage in “tweet storms” thru the night. Not a healthy lifestyle at all. Consider the irony of his having painted his opponent in November as “lacking stamina.” We shall see who outlives whom.
If Chump is out of office prior to July 2020, a Pence for Prez candidacy has time to mobilize the conservative base despite the total amount of damage done to the party brand thanks to Drumph.
GOP tax legislation is devastatingly economically unsustainable, but the hits to everyone below the top ten percent phase in at increasing rates annually over a decade, as do cumulative diminished taxation rate benefits for those ten percent.
Meaning middle and lower economic class conservative voters who rely on trusted conservative authority voices for their information (FOX tv, talk radio, Sinclair Media, Daily Caller, Breitbart, et al) will in the ‘20 election cycle be unaware, to any degree, of how severly their faith in the GOP has fucked them for the decade 2017-2027.
And this group, if loyal in the ballot box to the ‘20 GOP candidate slate, may be sufficient to carry the day for either Chump or Pence.
Best case: Trump does bad things to our country and the world sufficient even to alienate conservative voters who otherwise would crawl miles across hot desert sand stewn with radioactive glass shards and wolverine shit just to vote against any candidate not GOP or far right Libertarian.
But only if those bad things done to our democratic republic (and rule of law untainted by Christian theocratic subversion, a very real, distinct, and present possibility) and the world at large may be contained and at least ameliorated, if not reversed. There is a very real, distinct, and present potential for the current administration and 115th Congressional majorities (perhaps also a 116th GOP majority Congress, or at least Senate) to continue to set in motion events with unsustainable outcomes for the republic/world.
Not that I am pessimistic or anything.
I had a severe memory lapse when I was listing ‘authority source’(s) above. The Christian Broadcasting Network, every other conservative Christian media outlet/blog, and the conservative Christian ministry probably reach more GOP voter pool people than anything else by quite a large factor. The best that can be hoped for from them is a return to abstention from involvement with “worldly” concerns, i.e. contemporary politics, a la the pre-Moral Majority 1970’s.
This just in: Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a dependably consistently rightwing entity, announced today he will not seek re-election next year. He made his rationale pretty clear. Is The Donald reeling? Is he quaking? I hardly think so. A gaggle of generals is liable to descend on any other GOP incumbents contemplating breaking publicly with DJT. Bannon’s knives are well sharpened. GOP will go to any length to try to avoid giving the appearance of falling apart. Also (not being contrary for sake of being contrarian, honest!), with broadcasting empires (tax-free!) in place, I can’t picture any reason for the “Christian” extreme right to suddenly find some human decency within themselves. That would be…well, a sort of miracle! Might force me to become A Believer myself!!!
The author of this article writes: ” … there remains no doubt that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf.”
Says who? Personally, I take issue with this presumptuous and dismissive declaration. To the contrary, there most certainly does remain not just “a” doubt, but every doubt imaginable, about (1) whether or not “Russia” (whatever one might mean by that word) “meddled” (whatever one might mean by that word) in the 51 (counting the District of Columbia) individual state presidential elections in 2016; (2) on whose behalf this ostensible “meddling” occurred; (3) to what effect, if any; and (4) precisely how this “meddling” happened, etc., etc. A single item of actual evidence — instead of unattributed rumor and innuendo — would go a long way towards substantiating any part of this ludicrous, hysterical claim, although none has appeared in over a year. In fact, so much doubt remains about “Russian” “influence” or “meddling” or “Vulcan mind-melding hypnosis,” whatever, that the United States has become — as Noam Chomsky says — an international laughing stock for loudly proclaiming its own helplessness and incompetence when it comes to running an eighteenth century electoral Rube Goldberg machine designed to keep a slave-owning oligarchy in power and the American people as far away from actual political relevance as the mind of man could devise.
For my part, I never knew that the Russian Tsars invented human slavery and forced it upon our colonial ancestors along with a century of post-Civil-War Jim Crow laws and the last half-century of voter suppression schemes that continue against African Americans and other racial minorities today. And furthermore, just how did “The Russians” program our trigger happy cops to execute so many black “suspects” on the street instead of simply arresting them and letting the courts decide the issue of innocence, guilt, degree of punishment, etc.? How did “the Russians” or “Russian elements” or “Kremlin-connected entities” gain such power over millions of Americans that our good citizens — almost none of whom speak a word of Russian or could locate Russia on a map — suddenly lose the ability to think for themselves about their American political candidates? How insulting!
Former U. S. President Harry Truman explained last year’s election many decades ago when he said that “If you give Americans a choice between a Republican and someone who pretends to be a Republican, they’ll pick the genuine Republican every time.” In other words, when You-Know-Her and her genius political advisers decided to run to the right for election as the Republican junior varsity, the voters chose the Republican varsity instead, as President Truman predicted long ago. Blaming “the Russians” for anything that happens in the United States simply reeks of effete, entitled snobbery. Working-class Americans hate that kind of thing and always have. As H. L. Menken once observed: “I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.” It just so happened that more Americans had something against You-Know-Her, the Obama banker bailouts, sub-minimum-wage jobs, and lousy Clintonian trade deals than they did against the political rookie, real-estate con man, and cable-television talk show host, Donald Trump.
Of course, as Thomas Frank has often noted, You-Know-Her could have chosen the popular Senator Bernie Sanders as her Vice Presidential running mate and won the presidency going away. But this she would not do since no corporate “Democrat” will never allow the so-called “left” one iota of power or influence in the Democratic party. So You-Know-Her chose the unknown Tim Kaine, who managed to lose the Vice Presidential debate to the holy-roller bible-thumper, Mike Pence. One mistake after another. And then more mistakes on top of those. And then the brilliant scheme to elevate Donald Trump as the “Pied Piper” candidate so that he would win the Republican primary and give You-Know-Her the easiest Republican to beat. And then the equally brilliant idea of blaming the Russians for bribing American officials in business deals just to cover for Bawl and Pillory’s own corruption and bribery scandals which — irony of ironies — investigator Mueller has only just begun to uncover. Oops! That “lock her up” chant at those Republican rallies last year just might prove to have some staying power of its own.
I could go on citing chapter and verse about how You-Know-Her blew her second attempt to gain the Presidency, but informed persons already know all this. To pretend otherwise and seek to blame “the Russians” for Donald Trump constitutes a derangement syndrome such as we haven’t seen since Tricky Dick Nixon and Tailgunner Joe McCarthy set out to smear Democrats with their crude and vicious red-baiting calumny. Only now we have the so-called “Democrats” trying to pull the same discredited bullshit on Donald Trump, whom one can certainly criticize for any number of faults. Yet without offering a New Deal policy alternative to reactionary Republican corporatism, the American people will no doubt go on voting for the genuine Republicans instead of their corporate Democratic imitators.
As the nineteenth century scientist/logician/philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce once explained: “Where two faiths flourish side-by-side, renegades are looked upon with contempt, even by the party whose beliefs they have adopted.” If that doesn’t explain Bawl and Pillory Clinton and why the Republicans loathe them, then nothing does. For the life of me, I cannot see how “the Russians” could have convinced the corporate Democrats that they could win elections by ditching the working-class, antiwar base of their own party in favor of swell new Republican friends in the suburbs of a few wealthy cities. How did “the Russians” do that? When did they do that? Why did the Obama administration allow them to do that? None of that horseshit makes the slightest sense to me, and I have good reason to suspect that a great many Americans think the same way. “Russians”? What Russians? I don’t see no Russians anywhere I look.”
As an anti-semite and misogynist, I voted for the Jewish lady doctor Jill Stein because she advocated cutting the so-called military budget by 50%. I agreed with this policy and thought it would make a good start in the first year of a new administration. Then, in subsequent years, the real work of demobilizing from World War II could commence in earnest. A border patrol, a few “well regulated” state militias, and a coast guard ought to do the trick. The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico will take care of the rest. Poppy-farming goat herders in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains pose no threat to American security. Trust me on this one, fellow Crimestoppers. I couldn’t find any Vietnamese bombers of Pearl Harbor or New York in Vietnam, either.
So, doubts? You bet. As many as you can entertain — and then some.
Mike–Your summary of the 2016 election needs clarification, to wit: more voters were repelled by You-Know-Her than The Donald IN CERTAIN STATES (upper case for emphasis, as I lack ability to employ bold or italics type on this website) which swayed the Electoral College outcome. We know how you despise You-Know-Her, and lord knows I am no admirer, but the fact is she WON the popular vote by about 3 million. Yes, it’s a pretty dandy irony that the Dems’ efforts to become “GOP Lite” (“Less filling!” “Tastes great!”) have blown up in their faces. I “don’t have a dog in this fight,” have never been “a supporter” of the Dem Party. (Their offering of Hubert Horatio Humphrey as candidate in 1968, as time was nearing for me to receive my first set of orders to deploy to Vietnam, told me all I needed to know about that crowd.) But I still can’t–barring having myself hermetically sealed in a capsule, with no access to news of current events–avoid being irritated by the Dems’ pathetic performance as “the opposition.” I guess I’m just wired that way.
Thanks for your reply, Greg, but talking about a “national popular vote” — which does not exist — has absolutely no meaning within the context of the deliberately anti-democratic American electoral apparatus: one designed to allow maximum control of a basically uneducated, agrarian, small-town population by a handful of landed, “aristocratic” oligarchs, by which we must understand southern plantation slave owners and northern industrialist/bankers. The system still works pretty much as originally designed today. In short, “states” (i.e., local oligarchs) (s)elect the American President and not some absolute number of voters added up from the individual state totals. I thought you knew this, Greg. I certainly assumed that You-Know-Her and her reputedly “smart” advisers understood the long-established rules of political campaigning in such an anti-democratic system. Everyone who knows one damn thing about American presidential elections understands the Electoral College and the fact that most states employ a winner-take-all vote count in which only the first 51% of the vote matters. Any and all state votes in excess of 51% qualify as “wasted,” another feature of our anti-democratic system. You-Know-Her won California’s 55 electoral votes with many more than 51% of that state’s popular vote. So what? The final result would have worked out just the same had she won EVERY vote — i.e., 100% — in the California State Presidential Election. Almost everyone — including the Russians, Europeans, Chinese, Canadians and New Zealanders, etc. — understood that You-Know-Her would probably win California and New York, and by large (but meaningless) margins; but Donald Trump’s victories in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania — only three states — easily neutralized the electoral votes that You-Know-Her managed to accrue in the two large coastal states. That left only a handful of “battleground” states in the NAFTA-devastated, formerly industrialized mid-West. So, candidate Donald Trump just needed to show up and lie through his teeth to desperate people willing to listen because You-Know-Her wouldn’t even show up to lie to them. The Trump team didn’t know much, but they knew enough to realize that 52% of the votes in several key states mattered far more than 75% in only a few uncontested others. So can we hear no more about this mythical “popular vote”? It doesn’t exist and never has. The ostensibly “smart” people in You-Know-Her’s campaign apparently remained ignorant these long-established rules governing the 51 state “horse races,” (note the plural) even though only two bedraggled rats — and a couple of hugely handicapped marginal third party horses — ran in them. An oligarch-selected corporate rat always wins these American “horse” races.
This business about the Electoral College versus the mythical national popular vote has another interesting ingredient that I thought You-Know-Her — and especially her former-President husband, Bubba Bill Clinton — would understand better than anyone. As some of us recall, a third party candidate, Ross Perot — a millionaire Republican businessman from Texas — split the Republican ticket and took 19% of the popular vote away from incumbent Republican President George H. W. Bush in 1992. You see, the first President Bush required punishment from the Oligarchy for promising “no new taxes” (on the Wealthy) before incrementally raising some to help pay down the astronomical Ronald Reagan deficits bankrupting the country. But even though Ross Perot won 19% of the “popular vote” he did not win a single Electoral College vote. This resulted in just enough Republican votes lost to swing several state Electoral College votes to the Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton, magnifying his 43% of the popular vote into a lopsided win in the Electoral College. Ross Perot repeated this exercise in 1996, winning 9% of the popular vote and no Electoral College votes. So, if You-Know her and her “politically smart” husband did not understand how the Electoral College can produce seemingly large national victories out of a few barely won state contests, then no one should feel the slightest sympathy for them and their pathetic performance last year against a political rookie real-estate con man and cable-TV game-show host. The Democrats ran perhaps the only candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump, and they appear to have learned not one damn thing of value from the humiliating experience.
Yeah. Sure. The “Russians” did something. That explains everything. But as the YouTube comedian Jimmy Dore likes to point out, the Democrats get paid by the billionaire donor class to lose, while the Republicans get paid to win. (I like to say: “Buy a Republican and Rent a Democrat“) The well-paid (to commit political suicide) corporate Democrats certainly earned their bribes last year. If I thought that they had any brains, I would suspect them of taking a dive. But since You-Know-Her and Company consciously walked straight towards an open manhole cover while picturing it to themselves as a large black spot painted on the street in front of them, I have to conclude that rank stupidity and conscious self-deception more accurately describe the operative forces at work last year, presently, and probably for the foreseeable future.
Mike–My point was, and remains, very simply that more individuals who participated in the election cast their votes for You-Know-Her than for Trump.
Oh, I get it, Greg. The first — and first woman — President of California and three other states. I wonder what took me so long to see and acknowledge this astounding development in American participatory “democracy.”
Seriously, for the past year now, I have wondered why You-Know-Her (ostensibly a lawyer) hasn’t filed suit before the Supreme Court seeking the invalidation of the Electoral College as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection under the law.” You know: one person one vote. Seems elementary to me, but somehow for all her bitching and scapegoating of others — especially the nefarious “Russians” — I don’t see You-Know-Her making any effort whatsoever to use her loss to advance real democracy in America. Just an empty bag of corporate hot air. No wonder half the eligible voting population didn’t bother to vote at all. What difference would it have made?
Nonetheless, I thought that Governor Jerry Brown’s stepping aside for California’s new President showed a lot of class.
Of course, those who advocate deciding presidential election outcome by popular vote want the TOTAL NATIONAL popular vote to decide the matter. Thus, state by state results would be irrelevant (though of interest to sociologists). I support this concept as a matter of simple logic. I do NOT suffer any delusion that it would miraculously substitute “democracy” for the rule of Oligarchy that we’ve been plagued with all along. The Electoral College arrangement is absurd. By intent, of course.
Speaking of the Electoral College, Greg, did you see this article from The New York Times on the actual votes cast last year?
A Historic Number of Electors Defected, and Most Were Supposed to Vote for Clinton By KIERSTEN SCHMIDT and WILSON ANDREWS (DEC. 19, 2016)
After all You-Know-Her’s yakking about the non-existent and irrelevant “national popular vote” that she supposedly “won,” her campaign still tried to flip some of the electors because — by design of the Founding Slave Owners — these faceless intermediaries exist to thwart the popular will should the ruling Oligarchy wish a different outcome than what simple majorities of votes from the individual state elections had decided. But she typically even screwed that up and got fewer Electoral College votes than the individual states had awarded her. Two of the electors from Texas did indeed switch from Trump to someone else, just not to You-Know-Her. One of them went to Ron Paul and one went to John Kaisich. Five of the electors, though, switched from You-Know-Her to someone else, just not Donald Trump. Three from Washington State went to Colin Powell and one from Washington State went to a native American indian named Faith Spotted Eagle. One elector from Hawaii switched from You-Know-Her to Bernie Sanders. So instead of leaving the Electoral College bad-enough-alone and losing 306 to 232, she wound up losing 304 to 227. The different, and somewhat lower totals for both candidates did not materially change the outcome of the election(s), and I keep waiting for You-Know-Her’s apologists at CNN and MSDNC to start blaming “the Russians,” but I mean, the whole Electoral College farce got even more absurd when You-Know-Her conceived another of her “really smart” ideas for messing with it instead of filing a law suit challenging its Constitutional legitimacy.
One last note on the Electoral College. I maintain that had Bernie Sanders run — as either a Democrat or an Independent — the ruling Oligarchs would have stepped in with a few billion dollars in bribes and bought the Electoral College outcome for the Republican candidate, with the full support of whatever corporate “Democrat” — meaning Republican Junior Varsity benchwarmer– that the corporate cretins would have otherwise rented if they couldn’t have bought a more enthusiastically criminal Republican. No way does an FDR-style, “left” leaning “independent” or “socialist” get into the White House. No way. If the Republicans don’t see to that, then the “Democrats” will.
I do recall the reports of some “Electors” jumping ship, but didn’t absorb the details you stated here, Mike. Naturally, those who smelled how bad a Trump presidency would be prayed fervently enough of his “Electors” would reject him to cause him to lose. But evidently they were sufficiently loyal to the Modern Republican Party to not be swayed. And despite the noises made by McCain, Corker and Flake, it’s pretty clear this GOP has found a diehard base of “birthers,” climate change deniers, etc. that just won’t be turned off…indeed, the more outlandish Trump’s statements and actions, the more loudly they cheer him on! A huge victory for Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News,” etc. What is the cure for a whole society that’s become this moronic?!? Some say it’s extinction–“Natural Selection at work.” The tragedy is, the course we’ve been set on literally is destroying the whole planet. I can state with complete confidence that 99.999999999% of the living beings on Earth did not want, and did not vote for, Donald J. Trump. [I have understated the percentage figure in order to simplify! Hell, the latest estimate is that the typical human harbors 100 trillion…100 TRILLION!!…micro-organisms inside and on the surface of his/her body!]
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Exactly the way that I saw last year’s electoral choice, presented for our abject validation by the Ruling Corporate Oligarchy. “You proles can have Tom or you can have Daisy: a Hothouse Orchid or a Special Snowflake. Either way, you will get a homicidal psychopath so vastly careless with the lives and property of others that they ought to reside in an asylum for the congenitally demented or criminally insane. Unfortunately, we could only shit-can one of them instead of both. I tried my best to help accomplish that by voting for the Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, who magnanimously offered to step aside and let Senator Bernie Sanders lead the Green Party ticket. But Senator Sanders declined because the Democrats in the Senate with whom he caucuses made it perfectly clear that if he jumped ship he would lose his committee assignments in “the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” that never debates anything of consequence, like endless wars on somebody, somewhere, for who-knows-what?, etc. So Bernie Sanders caved, You-Know-Her lost anyway, and the Democratic National Committee — still stuffed with Obama/Clinton losers — purged all of Senator Sanders’ followers from the party’s “professional” ranks. Enjoy your irrelevance, Bernie. How does your own urine taste?
At any rate, we did get to shit-can Daisy, who so deserves her ironic political obituary: “She Came. We Saw. She Died.”
And if the so-called “Democrats” can’t come up with anything better than “the Russians did something to make Donald Trump President,” I suspect that careless Tom the TV-game-show host might prove harder to shit-can than criminally negligent Daisy. Once a Goldwater Girl, Always a Goldwater Girl.
There’s been speculation on CNN this week about “Joe Biden 2020”! Biden has gotten pretty prickly from time to time, making him sort of temporarily likable (!). But of course he’s totally Establishment. And not exactly youthful! Now, if Trump is still alive and in office in 2020, he won’t exactly be the proverbial spring chicken either. But honestly, Dem Establishment, is that the best, most stirring/galvanizing/electrifying act you can offer?!? Elizabeth Warren?? I’m afraid she’s entirely too sedate and polite. Where’s the ol’ fire in the belly, Liz?!? On the other side of the coin, I’m sure there will be GOP challenges to the (presumed) incumbent. And as usual, they’ll only be vying to see who can be more hideously rightwing! The GOP has rendered itself permanently utterly incapable of offering a candidate who can even pretend to be “progressive.” Will the last politician aboard the Titanic please turn off the lights (energy conservation still being important, you see)?