(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
It was too early for an October surprise, but a surprise it was. Yesterday the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report about its investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. The conclusions of the report go beyond what Robert Mueller found earlier: there was intensive collusion between the campaign and Russians, of which at least one was connected to his country’s security services; Trump had welcomed the Russian interference in the election; his campaign manager had regularly provided the Russians with campaign data, and on at least one occasion the president had committed perjury answering Mueller’s written questions. The committee characterized the collusion as ‘a grave counter-intelligence threat.’ The report came as a blow to Trump, who had been planning a further roll-out of the ‘Obamagate’ narrative by Bill Barr, arguing that Obama and Biden had illegally spied on his campaign while there was no reason to suspect that anything fishy was going on. The president even said that he should get a third term because of what had happened to his first campaign.
Potentially an even bigger blow was the reversal of changes at the postal service that would have made voting by mail difficult or even impossible. On Fox News Trump spoke the quiet part out loud, stating that if the Democrats don’t make a deal on his very limited corona relief package they won’t get money for the USPS, and without that money they cannot have universal mail-in voting. Without evidence the president keeps claiming that mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud, even saying that in California ‘they send ballots to everybody and their dogs, even dead people.’ But his Postmaster General, who milked the postal service for millions via one of his companies before he started destroying it, was forced – by threatening legal action by state AGs and congressional Democrats – to issue a statement that all changes would be delayed until after the elections. Even Trump suddenly tweeted ‘SAFE THE POST OFFICE,’ probably after he was told that the USPS is twice as popular as he is, but it is still unclear if the changes that have already been made, the removal of mailboxes and high-speed sorting machines, will be undone.
Even if the postal service is restored to full capacity in time for the elections there may be major damage, because by constantly sowing doubt about voting by mail Trump could have made numerous voters decide that to even try to vote isn’t worth it, while it also gives him an ‘argument’ to challenge the result of the election if he loses, and possibly even to demand that all votes that have not been counted on election day be discarded. It goes to show that the president knows that at this point he’s losing and will do everything to stay in power, just like the autocrats he admires.
After launching a new racist ‘birther’ campaign, this time against Kamala Harris, Trump issued some strong opinions on cities with Democratic majorities. About New York City, which has strict gun laws, he said ‘if you take their guns away they’ll sue you,’ earning him the endorsement of Pat Lynch, the head of the largest police union. More in general the president said ‘let Democrat cities die,’ but about Wisconsin, where he badly trails Biden, he said ‘every lawn has a Trump sign.’
Trump visited his brother, Robert, in the hospital for less than an hour on the day before Robert died, and then went golfing. Speaking about his brother the president as usually made it all about himself, saying that Robert had been ‘very happy’ with his presidency and was very angry with China. Trump expected to meet his brother again, but it is of course possible that Robert doesn’t end up in hell.
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