So as the Mueller probe proceeds to gather information in its methodical investigation into potential prosecution of the Trump administration over collusion, perjury, obstruction of justice, money laundering, or other crimes there is ample reason for concern among Trump and his troops. Documents are accumulating, threads are being tightened by what can only be described as an A-team of prosecutors, and the shifting and incongruous explanations for the firing of FBI Director Comey help build a case for criminal intent.
In the meantime it is becoming more and more obvious that if the Lord himself was Chief-of-Staff it would not make a difference and the President continues to be his own worst enemy. The only question is how long will it take and how much damage will be done in the process? Even though Trump’s legislative agenda is inert, that does not mean that significant damage on both the domestic and international fronts cannot be inflicted. Those affected by the flood waters in Houston are now experiencing the consequences of inadequate environmental protection. Immigrants in Texas are now contending not only with the horrors of displacement due to flooding but also the potential of severe changes in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. All the while the investigation continues apace.
Then there are Trump’s words himself, probably the most damaging evidence conceivable. These words resonate with clear criminal intent: “You’re not a negotiator... Who put this thing together? Me, that’s who. Who do I trust? Me... I don’t need him. I don’t need her... I don’t need anybody.”
Do these words sound like Trump? Sure they do. Are they Trump’s? No. Last night I was watching Al Pacino in “Scarface” and they are in the hot tub scene between Tony Montana (Pacino) and his so-called partner. Or as he describes it, his junior partner. Now I do not know if Trump ever saw the movie ― my guess is he has. Whether he absorbed these lines or just tucked them in his vault of management principles, it’s ironic how close they seem to resemble both his campaign speeches and his operating style.
But if the moral of the movie story is that eventually paranoia will destroy you I believe Trump is well on his way to a very unhappy ending, at least for him and his followers. When politicians, by the way, carefully characterize Trump as being unsteady or unstable they are really saying he is delusional and paranoid.
“I know more about ISIS than the generals do... I alone can fix it... I think I am, actually, humble. I think I am much more humble than you would understand.” Further, in his book, The Art of the Deal, he admits that “I play to people’s fantasies... that’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.” Now those are Trump’s words. It is quintessential flim-flam trickery.
I am more convinced, as the catalogue of Trump lies and deceit grow exponentially, that it is becoming more and more evident that the election was in effect rigged and that the Comey effect did play an important if not deciding role in the outcome.
Personally, I have no sympathy for Comey. His actions in the Hillary email affair were uneven and exhibited a political naiveté that is an abject lesson in why FBI directors should not engage in such political activity. Additionally, his last minute judgment was not only prejudicial to the outcome of the election but a violation of standing policy designed to avoid such. But he does have much to offer if indeed he was under intense pressure from the President to scuttle an ongoing investigation. So maybe, just maybe he can somewhat rehabilitate what can only be viewed as a tarnished reputation.
What is immensely disturbing at this point in our governmental evolution, however, is the deplorable state of our electoral system. The systematic effects of the Crosscheck program so painstakingly outlined in Greg Palast’s investigative reporting in the documentary and book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy here, combined with state efforts to curtail voting through restrictive voter registration and identification programs, and specious attempts to identify voter fraud by people like Kris Kobach and the President’s phony voter fraud commission known laughingly as the Commission on Election Integrity do significant damage to the basic concept of democracy.
Foreign interference in this arena must be addressed in a comprehensive way and stopped in its tracks if found to be a significant problem. Elected officials and party leaders must agree that every effort to encourage promotion of widespread voter participation not suppression of it is a goal consistent with our attempt to exhibit moral leadership to a world growing more skeptical with each passing day of the Trump reign.
The evidence of voter fraud is nonexistent while the evidence of voter suppression is convincing and ubiquitous and is fueled by a stubborn refusal of a subset of white Americans to accept the demographic changes that represent the inevitability that we are quickly becoming a majority minority society. We must embrace the benefits of diversity not castigate it. We must learn, adapt, and promote tolerance as a function of growth.
At the end of the movie Pacino utters the phrase, say hello to my little friend, in reference to his high-powered gun. I am not so much worried about Trump’s small hands as I am his little brain, because a healthy brain is the weapon we most need today as we attempt to restore confidence in our system of governance.