Field Trip

Yesterday Donald Trump, his wife, daughter and son-in-law flew to Saudi Arabia, accompanied by the blundering bunch that is also known as the senior White House staff, Priebus, Bannon, Spicer and some underlings. They leave behind a nation reeling from this week’s events: Trump’s suggestion that he had taped his conversations with James Comey and the threat to make those tapes public, countered by the revelation that Comey had written detailed memo’s after every meeting with Trump; the news that there had been at least eighteen contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents before the presidential election, and the shocking information that a senior member of the White House staff, ‘close to the president,’ is a person of interest in the FBI probe into possible collusion between the campaign and the Kremlin; the appointment of a Special Counsel by the Deputy Attorney General, who had been thrown under the bus by Trump when he fired Comey, a firing which, as Trump told the Russians in the Oval Office while he was spilling Israeli intelligence, was quite a relief because Comey was a ‘nut job.’

And then there is Michael Flynn.  Formally Flynn was fired after three weeks as National Security Advisor because he had lied to the vice president about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, but now we have learned that the White House knew that Flynn was under investigation before he was appointed, because he acted as an un-registered agent for Turkey, paid with money that partly came from Russia. Flynn’s affiliation became clear when he wrote an op-ed demanding that Fethullah Gülen, an enemy of the Turkish president, be extradited, and when he stopped a military action against ISIS in Syria because Turkey had a problem with it.  Trump’s firing of Comey may at some point be classified as obstruction of justice, but Flynn’s behavior smells like treason, and yet Trump cannot let go of him.  He has already expressed his regrets that he fired Flynn, sent him the message to ‘stay strong,’ and said that eventually he wants him back in the White House.  It makes you wonder what Flynn knows that Trump desperately wants to remain a secret.

As much as he hates not sleeping in his own bed Trump’s first foreign trip may provide some relief, both for him and his traveling companions and for the exhausted home front.  He will meet only people he has antagonized, leaders of fifty Muslim nations, the Pope, and representatives of NATO countries, but they have all been instructed to keep their speeches short, because Trump has the attention span of a six year old, so what can go wrong?

Still, what awaits Trump and his associates when they return home has to be on their minds.  There can be little doubt that the person of interest is Jared Kushner, who is probably suspected of something more serious than having his sister peddle green cards to Chinese billionaires in exchange for half-a-million dollar investments in a Jersey City apartment building.

Also waiting is James Comey, who has just agreed to testify in public for the Senate Intelligence Committee to tell his side of the story about how he was fired, and finally there is Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel, who will undoubtedly find a way to get Flynn to start talking.

Hugo Kijne

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