(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
If I had hoped that spending a week in the old country would give me a chance to get away from Trump I was wrong. The only two more or less interesting TV channels available in my hotel were CNN and RT, where it was all Trump all the time, and friends and family members wanted to know how crazy and dangerous Trump really is. Trump himself answered that question with his pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a genuine American fascist if ever there was one. Already during the campaign Trump took a liking to the man he affectionately calls ‘Sheriff Joe,’ and the pardon goes beyond throwing red meat at his base but is basically a retroactive endorsement of the cruel and racist practices Arpaio championed in Maricopa County. The fact that another fascist, Sebastian Gorka, one of Steve Bannon’s protégés, almost simultaneously left the White House doesn’t balance out the pardon, even though Trump may have thought it would. Contrarily, it illustrates how many nut-jobs Trump kept in his entourage until Chief of Staff John Kelly started cleaning house.
Hurricane Harvey gave Trump a chance to flaunt his megalomaniacal side. Mirroring everything else in Trump’s world, it was the ‘greatest’ challenge ever faced by a president, the storm was ‘historic’ and the rescue efforts were ‘epic.’ In spite of his bombastic rhetoric, however, Trump failed miserably in showing the leadership and empathy that is expected from a president in a national crisis. During his first visit to Texas he did not meet with victims and didn’t even get close to the flood zone, so that today he had to go back for a do-over. To make things worse, an official press release about Harvey from the White House contained a link to the website where ‘USA’ hats like the one Trump was wearing in Texas can be purchased. There was no mention of the proceeds going to victims, so it has to be assumed that they’ll go straight into Trump’s pockets. Probably inspired by Sheriff Joe’s cruelty Trump also put his decision that transgenders can no longer serve in the armed forces in writing, only to hear from Defense Secretary Mattis that he’d consider its implementation.
In the meantime Robert Mueller’s web is closing around Trump. The Special Counsel has involved the criminal investigations unit of the IRS in his review of Trump’s finances and possible money laundering by the Trump organization. Mueller is also working with the Attorney General of New York State to potentially indict Paul Manafort on state charges, for which he cannot be pardoned and which might turn him into a cooperating witness.
And while Trump’s lawyers, now fully engaged in cloaking the truth, are telling Mueller that the president can fire whomever he wants, and are smearing James Comey as an unreliable witness, a letter has surfaced that Trump had wanted to send to Comey explaining his firing. It puts in writing what Trump has already told Lester Holt on NBC News: that he fired Comey to stop the Russia probe.
Collusion with Russia, obstruction of justice, fraud and money laundering are still the potential reasons why Trump’s presidency might be short-lived, with the latter two becoming more prominent. The fact that Trump recently cursed out Kelly shows that he’s getting very nervous.
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