Trump’s fall: The eclipse of the presidency? (Part II)
As violent demonstrations linger domestically and nuclear risks loom abroad, the White House has flamed new domestic divisions, while paving the way for international trade wars. The coming fall will be the hottest – and potentially most violent – in decades in America.
Incumbency, impeachment, resignation, assassination
While America’s domestic divisions are deepening and the way has been paved for international trade conflicts, special counsel Robert Mueller has empanelled a grand jury in the investigation of Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election. In practice, it means that Mueller has the power to issue subpoenas and to put witnesses under oath, while the investigation is reaching to Trump campaign’s contact with Russians, and the real estate deals by him and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The ultimate objective, which is supported by both Republican neoconservatives and Democratic internationalists, seems to be to impeach Trump. Ultimately, the “Russiagate” is likely to be legitimized on the basis of alleged evidence, which will not be released in public on “national security” grounds. And while grand jury testimony officially takes place in secret, leaks are guaranteed to keep the story in headlines, especially by media that is strongly opposed to the Trump presidency. However, due to the broader-than-expected investigation, its results are not likely to be available anytime soon.
The more benign scenario, which was recently presented by Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer of Trump’s 1987 bestseller Art of the Deal , is that if the Mueller investigation corners the incumbent president, he would resign to avoid public humiliation, thus trying to turn a failure in the White House into a political victory – in such conversions Trump does have a long track-record.
Veteran Republican Ron Paul predicted a darker scenario in January: the assassination of Trump by the U.S. “deep state” (i.e., the U.S. industrial-military complex and intelligence community). Recently, the threat was seconded by Mueller’s former deputy, Philip Mudd, the ex-deputy director oft he CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and the FBI’s National Security Branch, who currently serves as CNN counter-terrorism analyst.”The government is going to kill this guy because he doesn’t support them,” he said recently; on air.
In turn, some Democratic senators and representatives have openly advocated Trump’s execution. As Democratic Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal recently wrote in Facebook: “I hope Trump is assassinated!” Afterwards, she apologized for her hope but only to deter an impending U.S. Secret Service investigation of the incident.
And yet, recently, U.S. Secret Service affirmed that it can no longer pay hundreds of agents it needs to protect the incumbent president – in large part due to Trump´s multiple travel destination, the sheer size of his extended family, and efforts to secure multiple residences.
In this extraordinarily heated political environment, the Democrats could capitalize on the Trump debacles, if they were not amid a meltdown of their own.
After the 2016 elections, the Clinton Foundation shut down the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which critics openly called a “crime syndicate,” since it funded mainly the Clintons’ personal ventures rather than Haiti or other destinations of abject need. The political force behind Senator Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Leadership Council (DNC), has been plagued by a series of scandals, including collusion with mainstream media (e.g., CNN, New York Times, Washington Post), corrupt Ukrainian officials, alleged fraud to subdue Bernie Sanders’ campaign, manufactured allegations about Russian interference, controversial liquidation of millions of dollars in real estate assets, the crimes of former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the indictment of her IT aide Imran Awan in a huge bank-fraud scheme and so on.
Moreover, a dozen Democrats that have leaked emails to the Wikileaks and those Republicans who have sought to disclose the Clintons’ fraud have died in suspicious circumstances in the past year. Not surprisingly, conspiracy stories continue to proliferate from the left to the right.
Presidency at the crossroads
According to U.S. mainstream media, Trump has lost all support in America and now governs without the consent of the governed. However, that’s fake news, as evidenced by longitudinal Gallup polls.
President Trump’s job approval was relatively highest when he arrived in the White House last January, when 45 percent of Americans still believed he would do a good job, and another 45 percent did not. Thereafter, Trump’s performance has eroded. Today, almost 40 percent of Americans approve his performance but nearly 60 percent do not .These results are actually more moderate than those of President Obama. When he arrived in the White House in 2009, most Americans had faith in him; when he left, he had lost almost half of his political capital.
America’s deep polarization originates from the neoconservative wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and the War on Terror, which have divided the nation ever since. It peaked in the end of the George W. Bush era and the beginning of the Obama rule, when nine of ten Americans disapproved the direction of the nation. Even in mid-2016, toward the end of the Obama era, more than 80 percent of Americans disapproved that course. Today, a year later, more than 70 percent of Americans disapprove the course of the nation.
Now the White House is at the crossroads. “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” said Steve Bannon, Trump’s highly controversial chief strategist who had a critical role in his presidential triumph and as the chairman of the far-right Breitbart News, in a recent interview.
Today, critics of the Trump administration argue that it is a “Goldman Sachs” presidency since the bank’s senior executives control the key economic posts, such as Secretary of Treasury (Steven Mnuchin) and Chief of the National Economic Council (Gary Cohn). But the administration still has a fair number of trade hawks, including Peter Navarro, Robert Lightheizer and Dan DiMiccio, former CEO of steel giant Nucor, plus a group of senior advisers.
“We’re at economic war with China,” Bannon claims, “one of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. Korea.. is just a sideshow.” After that interview with the center-to-left American Prospect, he resigned from the Trump administration to avoid being fired.
Now Bannon has pledged to support the Trump administration against the “globalists” through Breitbart. But in the White House, he did have enough time to contribute to the new deficit-targeting trade policies. Bannon’s plan of attack included the complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against the alleged Chinese coercion of technology transfers from U.S. companies in China, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminium dumping.
In America, the coming fall will be the most challenging – and possibly most violent – in decades, perhaps since the early 1970s. That’s when the United States coped with the withdrawal from the gold standard, soaring deficits, the oil crisis and Vietnam’s aftermath, economic threats to dollar hegemony, student demonstrations and inner-city riots, resurgence of terrorism, a highly polarized nation, Watergate and, ultimately, the resignation of Richard Nixon.
At the time, the rest of the world was not immune to America’s chaos. Today, the heavily indebted and militarily overstretched America seeks to “unilateralize” the world trading system and its security alliances that it helped to multilateralize after the devastation of World War II. In the process, America is challenging its allies in Europe and Asia, even its own NATO partners.
But economically, America’s new policies threaten most those nations that now fuel global growth prospects, including China and the emerging economies. Ironically, America is now the greatest global risk.
· This commentary was released by The World Financial Review on August 22, 2017.
Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized expert of the nascent multipolar world. In summer 2016, he forecast that the struggle for the US presidency would intensify after the election and that America was morphing into a global risk. Dr Steinbock is the founder of DifferenceGroup. He has served as Research Director of International Business at India China and America Institute (USA) and Visiting Fellow at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Center (Singapore). For more, please see www.differencegroup.net
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