The Chaos Presidency Revisited

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

During the campaign Jeb Bush called Trump a ‘chaos candidate’ and predicted a ‘chaos presidency,’ and boy was he right.  The week started with the president proudly declaring, in a meeting with governors, that he would have run towards the shooter during a school shooting, even unarmed.  This came as a bit of a surprise for those who remember how he avoided the draft for the Vietnam war with five deferments, the last one because of bone spurs that never seemed to hurt his golf game, and how he subsequently declared that the struggle not to get a venereal disease in the New York City night club circuit was his personal Vietnam. The next day Jared Kushner, who was in charge of everything from the imaginary Israeli-Palestinian peace process – for which his only qualification according to Tom Friedman is that he went to Jewish summer camps – to US relations with Mexico and China, the opioid epidemic, veterans care, reforming the criminal justice system and reinventing the government, lost his security clearance because of multiple vulnerabilities, putting him on the same level as White House cooks and gardeners and making him equally effective.

Later in the week it became known that Kushner had had White House meetings with bankers who subsequently loaned his companies half a billion dollars.  Mysteriously, because according to Kushner those loans were never discussed.  In the meantime the Russia probe remained in the center of attention.  NSA Director Rogers, who is about to step down, testified that the US is not doing enough to prevent Russian intervention in the 2018 elections, because Trump has not ordered the security services to fully engage in a cyberwar.  Robert Mueller has now shifted his focus to the theft of DNC and Podesta e-mails, and is expected to shortly indict the Russian hackers who were responsible.  The crucial question here is who in the Trump campaign and in Trump’s circle of acquaintances knew about the theft before the e-mails were released, and if the president knew.  It is fairly obvious that at least some members of his entourage knew, which means that they can be charged with conspiracy, and in some of his campaign speeches Trump appeared to be referring to upcoming disclosures by Wikileaks, strongly suggesting that he could be a co-conspirator.

In the middle of the week the sky in Trump’s world lost a star when Hope Hicks resigned, after informing the House Intelligence Committee that occasionally she had been telling ‘white lies’ on behalf of Trump.  She was not only Communications Director but also Trump’s security blanket, and he decided to take his frustration out on Jeff Sessions, attacking the Attorney General for not properly having the FISA process investigated and calling him ‘Mr. Magoo,’ to which Sessions responded by defending his integrity.

During a bipartisan White House meeting Trump shocked Republican participants by declaring that he would want to take guns away from potential domestic terrorists and people with mental problems, and worry about due process afterwards.  Later that day, however, he had a meeting with NRA lobbyists who issued a statement that the president was in total agreement with them, leaving everybody confused about where he stands.

To cap it all off Trump announced that he would impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, potentially starting a devastating trade war.  It might cost him the services of Gary Cohn, who can leave through the door that will still be open after National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has been pushed out by Trump, Mattis and Kelly.

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