A Not So Happy New Year

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

During the holidays Nancy Pelosi lived rent-free at Mar-a-Lago, in Trump’s head, to be precise.  There wasn’t a day when the president didn’t tweet insults about the Speaker, and during a brief interaction with the press on the way to his New Year’s Eve party, side by side with Melania, who is looking more and more like a Stepford wife, he declared that he knows Pelosi really well and that she is ‘highly overrated.’  Most pundits disagree and believe that the Speaker is playing a masterful mind game with Trump, by all indications driving him bonkers and without yielding one inch.  Trump wants a speedy trial in the Senate, which he believes will totally exonerate him, but putting an extreme form of ‘whataboutism’ into practice he demands a subpoena for Joe Biden and his son Hunter to testify about activities in Ukraine that only in the president’s convoluted mind are related to his impeachment.  Mitch McConnell is willing to put on a bogus trial without any witnesses, once he receives the Articles of Impeachment Pelosi is still sitting on, but not the kind of carnival that Trump wants, for which he’ll never get approval from all Republican senators.

Criticism of the kind of trial McConnell is planning to stage is beginning to come from some of those senators, albeit very hesitantly.  Lisa Murkowski has stated that she is ‘disturbed’ by the Majority Leader’s announcement that he’ll work closely with the White House on the president’s impeachment defense, and Susan Collins, always the Democrats’ last hope in times of despair and usually failing to deliver, has declared that she wants to see the evidence before she decides whether witnesses should be called, a peculiar stance because witness testimony would be part of the evidence.  Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton and two White House aides who were involved in withholding military aid from Ukraine to testify, but that list may get longer since the New York Times revealed this week that in late August Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper met with Trump in the Oval Office to try and convince him that releasing the aid would be in America’s national security interest, to which the president responded that he didn’t consider his Ukrainian counterpart Zelensky to be a genuine reformer.

It will be hard for Trump to keep Mulvaney, Pompeo and Esper from testifying in the Senate if and when they would be subpoenaed, and it will be impossible for him to block their testimony ànd demand that of the Bidens instead.  As for Bolton, he is a private citizen and not only can the president not keep him from testifying, but the lawsuit on which the former National Security Advisor said his willingness to testify depended was dismissed by a federal judge, so there is no excuse for him not to comply with a potential subpoena.

Meanwhile the damage of Trump’s isolationistic incompetence is becoming visible.  His ‘love diplomacy’ with Kim Jong-un, whom he still calls ‘a man of his word,’ has failed spectacularly, and may result in new nuclear testing and an IBM launch.  Iranian proxies have attacked the American embassy in Baghdad, with the US responding by having the head of the Quds Force killed, which will undoubtedly result in worldwide reprisals by Iran.

In Washington a panel of mostly Trump-appointed scientists issued draft letters not surprisingly stating that his administration’s environmental regulations are at odds with established science, and at the Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve party a seriously inebriated Rudy Giuliani seemed to suggest that he could prosecute  his client the president for racketeering.

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