Donald Trump announced that he was pulling US troops out of Syria last week. Senator Lindsey Graham, normally a Trump cheerleader, criticized the move, noting that it “put our allies . . . at risk.”
Graham might be right, but he should know better than to use that argument on Trump. The man doesn’t understand the concept of ‘allies’. He hasn’t really had any his whole life. He’s had business associates but not allies. The closest thing Trump has to an ally in business is Jared Kushner’s company, but Kushner is both family and an employee (advisor to the president), not an ally.
Trump sees the world in hierarchical terms: what matters is who is on top of who. In his view, ‘allies’ are there only to help him get what he wants. But there is no quid pro quo. When those ‘allies’ need something back, Trump feels no obligation to help out. It is all transactional to him and the deal always has to be tilted in his favor.
So while Senator Graham still expects Trump to support allies, the rest of the world has figured out that he isn’t a reliable partner. They know that when Trump talks about allies, it is really all lies.
Donald Trump wrote a book about his business acumen and even started a ‘university’ to teach it to others. But like most things Trump, the reality is not as good as he says it is.
I once spoke to a banker about the traders in his company that used computers to trade massive amounts of money and make a few cents on each trade. It was impressive. He replied, not so much. The traders were trading using the bank’s money for free. If they had to borrow the money at market rates instead they would be losing their shirts.
It is a good bet that Trump Inc. is built on a similar model. The economics of his business deals are probably based on getting financing from unsavory characters (alleged mobsters and worse), highly aggressive tax maneuvers and illegal undocumented quid-pro-quo agreements. Trump Inc. might not be a money launderer per se, but you won’t have to scratch the surface very deeply to find the rinse cycle.
This is why Trump is so afraid of Robert Mueller’s investigations. They are bound to uncover the extent of the shady deals he and his family have done to stay in business. And since he and his family make all of the important decisions, there really aren’t a lot of henchmen to take the fall when the truth comes out.
So in addition to the Charles Kushner pardon pool, we ought to be thinking about wagering on pardons for Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner.
So far, Donald Trump has been uncharacteristically restrained in his comments about his son’s dealings with the Russians. One would have expected him to be very vocal about the attacks on his namesake. There are a number of possible reasons why Trump is holstering his Twitter handle on this one.
- He knows it is bad and is hoping it blows over
- He does not want to say anything that may later be proven to be a lie by his son
- He is keeping his powder dry in case his son really gets into trouble
- He is selling his son down the river to deflect attention from himself
It is hard to imagine that the last reason is valid considering the tight family circle that is Trump Inc. After all, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law, was also involved, and if it turns out illegalities were performed, the two of them might go down together.
No, it is probably a combination of the first three reasons, with the emphasis on the first one. Trump is smart enough to know that the issue has absolutely no chance of blowing over if he goes to the mat on it.
It likely won’t blow over though, so look for papa bear to come out swinging on behalf of his cubs when things heat up.
The odds are pretty high that Donald Trump will pardon Charles Kushner before he leaves office. After all, Kushner is the father of his son-in-law Jared. More importantly, Charles Kushner is one of the grandfathers of Jared Kushner’s three children, and Donald Trump is the other one.
The question is only when this will happen? Will Trump wait until the end of his presidency like most other presidents have done when it came to controversial pardons? Or will he just do it when he feels like it?
If your office or political club is looking for a pool to bet on, it is time to set one up for Charles.
Will Donald Trump become the president that Hillary Clinton would have been before Bernie Sanders pushed her to the left? After all, he does not seem to have any real ideology and has no problem reversing his positions. After the public embarrassment of another legislative defeat or two, maybe he will just declare himself party-independent and decide to do whatever it takes to make his presidency ‘successful’.
He has already offered to work with the Democrats on health care. He is looking at supporting Barak Obama’s Federal Reserve chair (Janet Yellen) and some of his economic policies. He is cozying up to China and taking actions that annoy Russia.
Sure, his appointees and executive orders have been nothing like what Clinton would have done. But it is early – Trump has not even been president for 100 days yet. Already Steve Bannon’s influence is being supplanted by a life long NY Democrat – Jared Kushner. There will undoubtedly be more changes to come.
At the end of the day, this president asks himself not what is good for the country, but what is good for the Trump brand. Interestingly, if he decides that political success is better for the brand than ideology, it might also be better for the country.