Drums of War

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump must have felt that his enemies are circling the wagons, and he responded in kind.  While the White House was still dealing with the fallout of the firing of Andrew McCabe by Jeff Sessions, two days before he would be eligible for a full pension and at Trump’s urging, the president sued Stormy Daniels for $20 million, $1 million for every time she had spoken about her affair with Trump, thereby implicitly acknowledging that there had been an affair.  Simultaneously ex-Playmate Karen McDougal sued the publisher of the National Enquirer to have a ‘catch and kill’ contract that doesn’t allow her to tell the story of her relationship with Trump voided. The legal threats, and in Stormy Daniels’s case threats of physical violence, didn’t deter the ladies.  Last night Ms. McDougal was interviewed on CNN and Sunday night 60 Minutes will air an interview with Stormy.  The most dangerous development for the president, however, is the case of Summer Zervos, who was sexually harassed by Trump and filed a defamation lawsuit. After a judge’s ruling Trump can be forced to give a deposition in a New York court.

Next, a media storm broke out over Trump’s congratulating Putin with his victory in the Russian election – in spite of the fact that his briefing paper said DO NOT CONGRATULATE – while he failed to bring up the nerve gas attack on a former Russian spy in England. A pundit compared it to J. Edgar Hoover calling Al Capone to congratulate him with a successful bank robbery.  It prompted former CIA Director Brennan to wonder what Putin has on Trump, with financial leverage as the most likely answer.  This question will ultimately be answered by Robert Mueller, whose probe is now reaching into the finances of the Trump Organization, which is the reason why Trump made some panic moves on this front.  He hired Joseph DiGenova as his lead lawyer, who is better known for peddling conspiracy theories on Fox News than for courtroom prowess, indicating that the president is going to fight a publicity war with Mueller.  John Dowd concluded that Trump is primarily going to be his own lawyer and resigned, cognizant of the saying:  If you represent yourself you have a fool for a lawyer.

On the foreign policy front it became known that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had lobbied hard for the firing of Rex Tillerson, whom they considered an obstacle in their conflicts with Qatar and Iran.  After the expected ouster of H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor Mike Pompeo gained a colleague who is even more hawkish than him in John Bolton.  Bolton’s past achievements are 4,400 American and 500,000 Iraqi deaths, and he has argued for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.

The tariffs Trump imposed on $50 billion imports from China are an economic declaration of war, and China is already promising to retaliate.  The almost certainty of a trade war between China and the US that will completely disrupt global markets, combined with Facebook’s data being compromised by Cambridge Analytica on behalf of the Trump campaign, sent the stock market in a downward tailspin.

Trump now has a war cabinet for his legal war with Mueller, his trade war with China and his war over nuclear armament with North Korea and Iran.  Its members are not exactly the best and the brightest, and the fact that the president feels increasingly threatened brings a ‘Wag the Dog’ scenario ever closer.

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