Is Trump More Nixon Or McCarthy?

By

Leonard Zwelling

It’s hard to know whether Trump is more the Trickster or the Bully.

There can be no doubt that the current administration is as loaded with snakes as was Mr. Nixon’s White House. Even those who are not criminals are liars and deceivers like Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Saunders. The fact that Trump and his kids cavorted with the Russians in an effort to undermine the campaign of Hillary Clinton is reminiscent of what Nixon did with Muskie (or what George H. W Bush did with Mike Dukakis). It’s dirty tricks and then the cover up. H. R. Halderman and Lee Atwater would be proud.

Then again, so would Joe McCarthy. Mr. Trump’s latest attempt to bully people is to threaten to remove their security clearance. In response a host of former intelligence officers, have written letters and made their contents widely known that they will not be intimidated by this White House or the tyrant who lives there. Chief among the president’s critics is Admiral William McRaven, former Chancellor of UT. In a particularly articulate and patriotic letter he made it quite clear that Mr. Trump’s McCarthyite tactics will not silence him and the same is true of many of Admiral McRaven’s former colleagues.

Mr. Trump thinks the presidency is a video game. He’s just pressing buttons when he sees the flashing lights and is shooting the “enemy.” To him it’s Ready Player One and there is no player Two.

So what is an ordinary citizen to make of this?

First, take heart. That a full list of patriotic former officials is going on record opposing the actions of the Commander-in-Chief is not a small deal. It’s huge. If only Congress would step up in the same fashion, but Republicans from Orrin Hatch to Richard Burr are backing up the president’s actions against John Brennan. I spent time with both of these men and I am shocked at their positions. They should be ashamed. It is likely they will not be until Trump’s impeachment and conviction is a foregone conclusion which will depend on the next election in November.

And don’t look for Mr. Mueller to release a report before then. Even if the real intended target of Mr. Trump’s bluster is Mr. Mueller, I seriously doubt the Special Prosecutor can be intimidated by the likes of Agent Orange. He’s going to keep on keepin’ on until Trump fires him or gets the Assistant AG to do it or takes away Mueller’s security clearance so that he can no longer run his investigation.

Just as with the Watergate and the McCarthy Hearings, the country is in this for the long haul, like it or not.

There are really very few possible conclusions.

First, the justice system could break down. Mr. Manafort could go free. Michael Cohen may not see justice and the Trump sons may be pardoned. That’s all possible.

Second, the justice system grinds on. Mr. Mueller finds out what we already know, that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to get dirt on Hillary Clinton which is illegal, and a host of people will be put on trial if they too are not pardoned.

Third, and I still think most likely, the Democrats will take the House in November and vote on articles of impeachment after the New Year. The charges will be abuse of power and obstruction of justice, just as they were against Mr. Nixon. By then Trump will have had enough and he too, like Nixon, will quit. At that point we will have to deal with whether Mike Pence was or was not complicit in all of this and wonder whether Nancy Pelosi will be the first woman President of the United States.

It could happen. At this point, anything could.

Leonard Zwelling