Chaos and Panic

The week started with the revelation that the meeting of Don Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with a female Russian lawyer ‘who only wanted to talk about adoption’ was also attended by a ‘former’ KGB agent and a Russian money launderer, and it ended with Sean Spicer’s resignation because he doesn’t like his new boss.  In the meantime Trump and the Senate kept struggling with healthcare.  The attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare came to a grinding halt because the replacement was too cruel for some GOP senators and not cruel enough for others, after Trump had not really helped this cause by calling a similar bill that passed the House of Representatives alternately ‘mean’ and ‘beautiful.’ Mitch McConnell – in an apparent attempt to put the issue behind him and go on vacation – proposed to vote only about repeal, knowing that the votes would not be there because 32 million Americans would lose their health insurance.  Trump made a last futile attempt to get the senators in line, and then announced that he had no other choice but to actively contribute to the impending failure of Obamacare.

It revealed a peculiar aspect of Trump’s thought process.  He seems to think that if he sabotages Obamacare by not enforcing the mandate and canceling subsidies and outreach, the public will blame the Democrats, and he doesn’t realize that he now owns Obamacare.  But his troubles didn’t end there.  In the middle of the week it became known that next to their formal two-and-a-half hour meeting Trump had a one hour conversation with Putin during a G20 dinner, assisted only by Putin’s interpreter.  According to Trump the two spoke about adoption, which is shorthand for repealing the Malinsky Act that imposed sanctions on Putin and some of his cronies, something Putin is furious about and retaliated against by prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.  The pressure of the Mueller investigation into collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin and the criticism of this second meeting seemed to get to Trump.  In a spontaneous, rambling interview with the New York Times he attacked his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for having recused himself from the Russia investigation.

But the president didn’t stop there.  He also declared that it would be unacceptable if Mueller would extend the investigation and look into his finances.  This appears to be Trump’s most serious concern, and is therefore an open invitation for Mueller to see if the combination of real estate and money laundering existed in the Trump organization, which is more than likely, since in the past Don Trump Jr. has said that most of the organization’s funding comes from Russia.

Subsequently the news leaked out that Trump’s outside lawyers are looking for information to discredit Mueller’s team, and that Trump has inquired if he can pardon associates, family members and even himself.  Apparently he thinks that criminal activities will potentially be revealed, and although Trump doesn’t know much, this is an area where he has expertise.

Today Sean Spicer decided to jump off the sinking ship, and by the close of business the news broke that Sessions had discussed the Trump campaign with the former Russian Ambassador, Kislyak.  It may force Sessions to follow Spicer, in spite of his determination to stay on after Trump’s attack.

Hugo Kijne

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