Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey unleashed a legal and political crisis. With the Justice Department appointing a special prosecutor to investigate over [Trump’s] objections, he could still claim he’s the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt in American history”.
Don’t expect Trump’s downfall by the end of the month. In fact, don’t discount a Trump rebound if his handlers can somehow rein him in. Trump’s main adversary in the internal Washington power struggle is the law enforcement and intelligence services bureaucracy, which more than anything else wants a return to the status quo.
The opposition to Trump--which began with sometimes historically large protests cannot be allowed to narrow to the most conservative possible challenge: Anonymous leaks from intelligence officials questioning Trump’s patriotism and ability to keep state secrets. One day after he fired the head of the FBI, Trump held a meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.
Not only that, but Trump barred the U.S. media and allowed a photographer from the news agency owned by the Russian government. Unnamed “current and former U.S. officials” told the Washington Post that Trump had “revealed highly classified information” in the closed meeting--which turned out to be a report from Israeli intelligence alleging an ISIS plot to blow up airplanes with bombs that can be hidden inside electronic devices.
Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster flatly denied the Post claim and then Trump tweeted that he could reveal any intelligence he wanted to whoever he wanted! The whole Russians-in-the-Oval-Office circus raised the question of whether we’re supposed to trust the word of the most dishonest administration ever or anonymous allegations from intelligence agencies whose mission includes lying to shape public opinion. The biggest bombshell of all was the news that Comey had written a memo to fellow FBI officials after the White House meeting where Trump apparently asked him to end the FBI’s investigation of McMaster’s predecessor, Michael Flynn, into whether he lied about his contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.
Now, Republicans in Congress who were trying to ignore the scandal were forced to ask Comey to testify in Senate hearings. One rule of American politics to bear in mind is that the course of Washington scandals is driven not by legalities, but politics. The Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon began with a 1972 break-in at Democratic Party national headquarters in the Watergate hotel in Washington. Criminal behaviour, yes — but Nixon paid a price because of the pressures building up in society, most importantly, the anti-Vietnam War movement. Plenty of presidents have been responsible for more serious crimes than a break-in, but didn’t have to resign.
Until this last week, the Republican Party establishment was prepared to work with Trump. They might hate Trump for taking over their party, but enough other people liked him, despite his historic unpopularity, to elect him president, which is more than any other Republican could say. That’s why Republicans at first pathetically tried to downplay Trump’s firing of Comey. But the real question for the GOP isn’t whether Trump broke the law, but whether he’s still an asset. Certain parts of the establishment have a stake in seeing the administration carry on, but on the big-ticket items that Wall Street and Corporate America are drooling over, Trump looks more and more like a distraction, which could fuel attempts to get him out of the picture.
The main opposition to the Trump White House right now isn’t coming from Republicans, but the apparatchiks of the national security state. If opposition to Trump is reduced to rooting for him to be brought down by any scandal at all, then the tendency will be to side with the national security state when its anonymous mouthpieces charge him with the same violations of government secrecy that were used to send Chelsea Manning to a military prison. Now that there is blood in the water, the Democrats are coordinating all their efforts with the goal of winning back control of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.
The problem isn’t that more people are rallying around Trump —whose popularity continues to be incredibly low — but that support for the Democrats among their own voters has fallen. Probably because those voters are sick and tired of a party that doesn’t stand for anything other than being more responsible guardians of the status quo than Trump. The same dynamic from 2016 presidential election continues: Trump is increasingly unpopular, but so are his Democratic opponents and the base voters for the Democratic Party are increasingly disillusioned. Trump may yet be overthrown by his own corruption and incompetence, but before you bet on that outcome, remember this: That’s what we all thought during the presidential campaign last year after the release of Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” tape.
The anger at Trump has to be channeled into active opposition. Socialists and the left can make the case that the whole system should be impeached.
• Full article at the International Socialist Organization (US) website.