A Big Fat Defeat

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

Donald Trump has one issue and one thing working for him.  The issue is national security, symbolized by keeping terrorists and drugs out of the country with a wall on the southern border, and what’s working for him is a strong economy.  With the partial shutdown he was destroying both.  Apart from the fact that for terrorists points of entry are primarily airports, and for drugs regular border crossings, national security was threatened in a variety of ways.  FBI agents issued a written statement saying that they could no longer effectively battle terrorism, gangs and drug trafficking, and five former Homeland Security Secretaries, including John Kelly, who until recently was Trump’s Chief of Staff, urged the White House and Congress to restore funding for what used to be their department, because otherwise it couldn’t keep the country safe.  Add to this that the TSA agents who check the luggage of airline travelers were not getting paid and therefore more often called in sick, and that air traffic controllers, who already have an extremely stressful job because of the combination of full responsibility and no control, were not getting paid either, which created more stress for them and endangered air traffic nationwide.

The week could have started so well for Trump.  The White House was gloating after Robert Mueller appeared to rebuke Buzzfeed’s assertion that the president had instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, but the celebration only lasted until Rudy Giuliani hit the Sunday morning talk shows and revealed that Trump had pursued a Trump Tower in Moscow right up to the 2016 elections.  The next day Hizzoner did his usual shuffle and tried to walk his erratic statements back, but the damage was done.  The optics of a two minute visit of Trump and Pence to the MLK monument were not good either, especially after the VP declared that Dr. King would have liked Trump’s policies.  The president’s next brilliant move was to inform Nancy Pelosi that he would give his State of the Union address next Tuesday in the House chamber, rain or shine.  The Speaker immediately responded that he would not be welcome as long as the shutdown continued, and after briefly pretending that he would give the speech at a different location Trump acknowledged that he had been outplayed.  He also admitted that he could not find any weakness in Pelosi, by being unable to come up with a nasty nickname and just calling her ‘Nancy.’

Yesterday neither of two Senate bills, one based on a ‘compromise’ Trump offered earlier that came down to his restoring two programs he had tried but so far failed to eliminate and receiving $5.7 billion for ‘The Wall,’ the other a Continuing Resolution that would end the shutdown, offered by the Democrats, gathered the 60 votes needed to pass.  Next, senators started looking for a compromise, but since nobody knew what kind of bill the president would be willing to sign the wait was for Trump, who caved today and reopened the government for three weeks without getting any funding for the wall.

As all this was playing out Michael Cohen issued a statement that he would not voluntarily testify in the House on February 7th, because his family, in particular his father-in-law, had been threatened by both Trump and Rudy Giuliani.  This appears to be a clear case of witness tampering, for which according to Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, the president should be censured and Giuliani indicted.  To make sure that Cohen’s testimony is heard anyway he has now been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

To make the president’s total defeat in his battle with Nancy Pelosi even worse his main economic adviser said that economic growth could be as low as 0% in the first quarter of 2019, thanks to the shutdown, taking away Trump’s strongest asset.  Additionally, it was reported that Jared Kushner had received a security clearance he did not qualify for, and this morning Trump adviser and ‘dirty trickster’ Roger Stone was arrested and indicted.

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