macroafricaintel | Closing in on Trump

By Rafiq Raji, PhD
Twitter: @DrRafiqRaji

That Donald Trump, the American president, is anti-establishment is quite writ large. It is somewhat astonishing that a man like that could become not only a billionaire while keeping his uncouth ways but also make it to the White House. Not one for conspiracy theories, but I am quite convinced now a decision has been made to remove him from that gilded office. It was always a mistake for him to have taken on the security establishment. Being at odds with business people and politicians is one thing. But to have taken on the FBI and the intelligence services, people that are also responsible for his security, was somewhat unwise. The FBI, it is believed never forgives the kind of slight meted out to its former director, James Comey, by President Trump. And he did not do much wrong. Were he not known to be largely above board, some might actually credit him with facilitating Mr Trump’s election win. And with the benefit of hindsight, it is quite clear whatever decision Mr Comey made in regard of the Clinton emails was not so much intended to benefit Mr Trump as it was to ensure the FBI would not be found culpable of complicity. Funnily, despite winning, and with one year into his first term in office, Mr Trump still harps about the Clinton affair. It is not too hard to see what might motivate his whining. With special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian links of Mr Trump’s election campaign, closing in on him, Mr Trump desperately needs to distract the public. A war tends to do that. And Mr Trump may soon have an excuse to embark on one with an increasingly belligerant North Korea. And then there is Iran. The Saudis and fellow Arab countries have been ramping up their anti-Iran rhetoric lately. Had they the means, they would probably be engaged in an armed conflict at the moment. For now, fightiing through proxies will do; in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere. And everywhere you turn, Russia seems to prop up. Whether it is Mr Trump’s troubles at home, the North Korean crisis, or the conflict in Syria, there is bizarrely always a Russian element.

Crazy works
In quite an unusual manner for a banker to talk about a sitting president, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of America’s biggest bank, JP Morgan, reckons Mr Trump would likely be a one-term president. That is almost a sure thing now if recent progress made by Mr Mueller is anything to go by. Mr Mueller recently secured the full cooperation of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to Mr Trump, who was charged lightly in exchange for incriminating testimony against Mr Trump’s campaign organisation and staff. It has been revealed he might have evidence to show complicity on the part of Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s confidante and son-in-law, for instance. It has also been revealed there could be evidence of Mr Trump’s complicity as well. Barring that, Mr Trump may have inadvertently incriminated himself by one of his numerous tweets. So the issue now is really whether Mr Trump would act a President Bill Clinton, who saw an impeachment hearing to the end and prevailed, or choose to be a President Richard Nixon, who when evidence emerged he had breached his oath of office, resigned, got a presidential pardon, and enjoyed a somewhat quiet retirement. It is probably too early to determine whether the end of Mr Trump’s stint at the White House is near. His antecedents show he is a man with a winning streak. No one thought he would win the 2016 elections, for instance. But he did. There has not been a major American tax reform for the past 3 decades. Under Mr Trump, that is about to change. And now he has done the unthinkable by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; too hot an issue for past presidents. (As a Muslim, I am offended by this. But the focus here is on American politics.) The reason he probably succeeds is that everyone believes he is crazy enough to do the crazy things he talks about. And because in his own case, all his skeletons; at least most of them (except his tax returns for instance) are in the open, there is not much that he could be blackmailed with. The only dangling sword over his head is his Russian connections. Besides, if an obnoxious and insecure American president delivers tax reform, Middle East peace and reins in North Korea, it would certainly not have been such a bad thing to have had him in the White House.

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