There is an old saw (with several variations) along the lines of “If you live long enough you will see everything.” I guess since I’m probably in my last twenty earth laps around the sun and I almost qualify when it comes to American Presidents. After Monday’s events in the House I’m really thinking I might see one more before my personal journey is over. Let’s explore.
In 1963 I saw the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It shocked the nation and anyone my age or older can tell you where they were when they first heard the news. In 1974 I saw Richard Nixon resign the presidency in disgrace and to avoid certain removal by impeachment. His successor was Gerald Ford, the first and only person to ever become President without the benefit of being elected to the office or the Vice Presidency. In 1998 I saw Bill Clinton impeached by the House only to be found innocent by the Senate in 1999. In 2000 I saw the Supreme Court effectively elect George W. Bush to the Presidency. In reality we will never truly know who won Florida that year. I’m an old man who became a political junkie at a very early and I’ve seen a lot.
Two months out from his inauguration Donald Trump’s presidency appears to be in real trouble. In their testimony before the House Intelligence Committee FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers said they had found nothing to back up Trump’s tweets that President Obama had wiretapped him or his campaign headquarters. Furthermore they revealed that Trump’s campaign and associates were being investigated for possible collusion with the Russians.
As I’ve written before, I can’t see how this ends well for Trump. As of this writing (Monday evening) the Republicans are still pretty much sticking by Trump. They are playing the “who leaked?” not who did something wrong game to deflect attention and blame. It’s like blaming the police or the 911 caller as opposed to the criminal. There will come a point that the Congressional Republicans will desert Trump in a political self-preservation effort. There is not a lot of courage in Washington (on either side of the aisle for that matter).
The Republicans never really wanted Trump in the first place. If he were to be removed he would be replaced by Mike Pence, who they vastly prefer. (Pence will be shielded at all costs in any investigation. From the GOP standpoint he has to look like an innocent bystander.) To my knowledge there are three legal ways to remove Trump from office: impeachment, resignation and the 25th Amendment.
Impeachment is a long process. Only two Presidents in history have been impeached (think indicted) by the House and neither was removed from office by the Senate (think trial). I can’t see this process going to its conclusion.
Trump hates to admit defeat so resignation while possible is not as likely in his case. I have no doubt the Congressional Republicans will eventually come to him with that suggestion; I just don’t think he’ll go that route, or at least not quickly.
Along those lines I find it interesting that the White House is setting out the strategy of “blaming” the leaker(s) in what I feel is a clear effort to secure their identity. For some time I have likened this administration to an organized criminal enterprise. The mob always wants to find out who the snitch is so they can rub out the witness before the trial. If pressed to resign I think Trump would refuse in an effort to accelerate the “skimming operation” knowing his window of opportunity was closing.
The 25th Amendment provides a process by which the Cabinet can initiate the removal of an incompetent President. Incompetency is not defined in the Amendment. If the removed President protests Congress basically becomes the judge which makes a final ruling. Another interesting aside is that while most appointed staff positions in the Executive Branch have yet to be filed, a Trump loyalist “watchdog” has been installed in each agency to monitor everyone for loyalty. Do you think Trump’s inner circle is more concerned about guarding against a “Cabinet coup” than they are about running the government? I do.
There is one major flaw in my argument; I laid out a logical case. The 2016 race, this administration and Donald Trump have proven to be anything but logical. I guess I haven’t seen it all yet; maybe soon?
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