It’s impossible to imagine what Donald Trump will do or say next. At least every other day he makes most Americans wish he would remember why God gave him two ears and a mouth. People wonder where America is headed, but things will turn out fine. The roller coaster ride will be over sooner than we think.
Trump is far more foam than beer. His only important achievement so far is a tax cut that benefits too many people who don’t need it and leaves average Americans with a very small slice of the pie. Trump has not (as promised) withdrawn from NAFTA, built a wall on the Mexican border or expelled illegal immigrants, made any headway on the North Korean problem, withdrawn from the Iran agreement, or even tried to resurrect the American manufacturing or steel industries. (Those are facts, not endorsements of Trump’s policies.)
Equally bad, as Ezra Klein noted in Vox, 37 high-level Trump aides or advisers have resigned or been fired. They include a chief of staff and several cabinet members and there will almost certainly be more such firings and resignations. A president who can’t manage his own staff will fail.
Where will this all wind up? Trump will be forced from office sometime this year, probably by late May. Reactions to that prediction run the gamut from complete agreement to wondering what sized straitjacket would fit me. But skeptics pause when I tell them the reasons for my thinking.
Trump is hiding something. He may not have committed a crime but there’s something he doesn’t want the American people to know. I was a criminal defense lawyer for a long time, which is only relevant because it shapes my perspective on Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. There is no federal crime of collusion that applies to the 2016 Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia according to Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Collusion applies only to antitrust law such as cases of price-fixing. Levinson also notes that it won’t be enough to claim that Trump or someone on his behalf “did something wrong.”
A crime must be established that “a specific Constitutional provision or statute was violated.” Levinson thinks that the crime of a foreign national giving money or “other thing of value” in an American election, such as helpful information on Clinton, may come into play. However, what if, as I think is more likely, the Russians passed information to the Trump campaign through third parties who the Trump people had no idea were working for the Russians? Stupidity is not a crime.
Assume that Trump hasn’t committed a crime or at least hasn’t committed one that can be proven, Trump will still be forced from office. Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s duty is to investigate “any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Those last twelve letters are “fine print” worth attention. They mean that Mueller doesn’t have to find evidence of a crime, let alone prove one, to conclude that Trump has some unethical dealings with Russians and/or other foreign entities that make him morally unqualified to be president.
A Time Magazine article by Jeff Nesbit on August 15, 2016, detailed Trump’s Russian business dealings. After the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Computer in 2016, Trump tweeted “I have ZERO investments in Russia.” The statement may have been true then and may still be true. What it doesn’t cover is whether Trump is doing business with Russians outside of Russia. Nesbit went on to say that because of Trump’s “many bankruptcies” his organization “was forced to seek financing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests.”
Nesbit’s article wrote that Trump has bragged about his meetings with Russian oligarchs. He once went to Moscow to discuss business investments and said, “almost all of the oligarchs were in the room” just to meet with him. Donald Trump, Jr. spoke at a real estate conference in 2008 and acknowledged that“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. ”
Considering Trump’s business dealings with Russians in the past, his refusal to release his tax returns and the details of his business holdings and his warning to Mueller to not investigate those matters, it’s quite logical to think that Trump’s hiding income from and /or debt to Russians who want to direct American policy in their favor and against America’s. If –or when-it becomes apparent that Trump is beholden to Russians, the Republicans in the house and senate will tell Trump to leave or be impeached. They will not take the risk of keeping Trump and losing their majorities in the house and senate in this year’s election and they’d rather have President Pence anyway. He doesn’t tweet.