Trump vs. Flake

Donald Trump has a lot riding on Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. Trump’s M.O. is classic bully: threaten someone mercilessly with the expectation that they will kowtow to you because you are stronger. Trump’s message to Flake is, “I can take your senate seat away by supporting your opponent so you’d better get in line.”

If Flake wins his primary battle a year from now (August 2018) then Trump’s threats will be shown to be empty. This could be right around the time that the Senate is considering impeachment charges against Trump, assuming the House actually proffers them. Even if not, senate committees could be uncovering a whole lot of unflattering information about the Donald, his business and his political alliances with the Russians, Arabs and others.

Not a good time to have Flake win the primary and show that your threats are harmless.

The Wrong Leaks

Jeff Sessions just announced that he will redouble retriple his efforts to stop government leaks after pressure public humiliation by Donald Trump. That may probably won’t have an effect on the flow of harmful information about the Trump administration to the media, but that’s beside the point.

The leaks that the media should be really going after are ones about Trump’s business. For all of the media’s investigative prowess, no one has been able to create a score card detailing how much Trump is profiting from his presidency.

Sure, there have been articles exposing conflicts of interest. However, the detailed financial statements are missing. One would think that Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Economist, etc. would be able to put these together. They have the skills, but they are missing the data.

What they need are leakers. They know how to get people in government to talk – let’s see if they are any good at cultivating business people.

The fact that Trump is making millions or more off the presidency probably won’t bother his core supporters. But it could make a bunch of congressmen jealous and even more resentful of him.

Trump And The KKK

For some strange reason, people keep expecting Donald Trump to turn on his base. Trump has no support from the press, has alienated mainstream Republicans by firing Reince Priebus and has insulted the Republican leaders of Congress. He has even flamed members of his own cabinet. The only meaningful support that Trump has left is his base.

Why would he ever do anything to upset these supporters? They are primarily white, so Trump will never rush to condemn ‘white rights’ advocates. They are primary middle class and traditionally valued, so Trump will never go our of his way to support gay rights, immigration, etc. Whether or not Trump agrees with them, it just smart politics not to piss off your supporters.

The exception is when the condemnation of Trump gets so intense that he has to do something, like the situation with the white supremacist murder-by-car recently. Trump finally issued a condemnation, but his supporters know that he did it only under extreme pressure and as part of playing the game.

It kind of makes one nostalgic for George W. Bush. At least he had principles. Trump will embrace whatever keeps him in power, even if it is the KKK.

Trump Won’t Be Impeached

As the Special Counsel’s investigation heats up and Donald Trump’s relationship with Congress continues to cool down, some are speculating about impeachment.

In the history of the United States, only two presidents have been impeached, i.e., charged by the House Of Representatives with serious offenses. Both presidents went to trial in the Senate, and both won their trials when the Senate declined to convict either of them of the crimes the House charged them with.

The presidents were Andrew Jackson, nicknamed “Old Hickory” for his fortitude, and Bill “Big Dog” Clinton. There is no way that Donald Trump is going to let himself be bested by either of these presidents by getting convicted. Especially Clinton.

Trump’s pattern in legal matters is fight, fight, fight, settle. It is more likely that Trump will follow Richard Nixon’s path and resign before it gets to impeachment, although there is a chance there resignation will happen after the House votes to impeach.

Assuming the potential charges against Trump include conflicts of interest, bribery or worse related to the financing of his businesses, the resignation will probably be part of a ‘settlement’ deal that lets Trump and his family stay out of jail and keep most of their assets.

The threat of impeachment may work, but it is unlikely that it will actually happen.

The Best Defense . . .

Donald Trump does not play defense. He is a true believer in the adage that the best defense is a strong offense. If attacked, he fights back harder, like when hit by the “grabbing” charges during the campaign. His ‘apology’ was an attack on Bill Clinton.

So his Tweet the other day that his base is “is far bigger & stronger than ever before” was completely out of character.  Normally Trump would not even be responding to media reports that his base was shrinking. For him to take to Twitter to contradict this can only mean one thing:

Trump himself believes he is loosing supporters.

Good time to go on vacation.

Et Tu, Boris?

Donald Trump is the master of the Taunting Tweet. Whether he is taking on the Democrats, Republicans or even members of his own cabinet like Jeff Sessions, he is pretty handy with the snarky, cutting comment.

To be sure, there have been plenty of Tweets tweaking Trump, but none of them are from anyone he cares about.

So it must have been particularly galling for Trump to read the Russian prime minister’s Tweet that his administration is showing “total weakness” in the “most humiliating way.” To have his buddies the Russians publicly proclaim him as “an incompetent player” (Facebook post) has to be the ultimate insult for smart, tough guy Trump. Truly humiliating.

Of course, there may be more to it behind the scenes. The best way to gauge Trump’s relations with the Russians is to follow the money. Is Russian financing still flowing to the Trump family of companies? Is Trump Inc. doing any new real estate development in Russia? We might have to wait until Robert Mueller speaks before we find out.

Kommander Kelly To The Rescue

Donald Trump’s appointment of John Kelly as his Chief of Staff will probably work. Kelly is retired military, and Trump spent five of his most formative years in a military academy under a tight command structure. If anyone can inject some discipline into Trump and his administration, it would be a four star general.

For a while.

Until Trump starts remembering what he didn’t like about the academy and the military life. Like how his command was taken away from him when he was ‘promoted’ into an administrative position. And how he chaffed at the rules (but got away with breaking them).

That’s when he will fall back on the fact that as commander in chief he actually outranks a four star general. He’ll go back to shooting himself and his administration in the foot. At which point Kelly might quit. Because if there’s one thing that really annoys a military man, it is friendly fire.