What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

39 thoughts on “What Happens If …

  1. This is an excellent article, thanks for sharing it, Jill. I agree that we can’t draw accurate comparisons with the Nixon years, yet I think that if Mueller presents evidence of wrongdoing, the Republican Party will stampede away from Trump. That leaves the rank and file. I think the Evangelicals will bolt because Trump has already given them the Supreme Court appointments that they lusted for. Civil war? I don’t see it unless some jerk assassinated Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You may be right, John, and I hope so. But at the moment it appears that they are all set to claim that the evidence isn’t conclusive. I am encouraged, however, that the Senate is convinced of Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the Khashoggi murder and are ready to act on the information that was presented to them. Perhaps their blind faith in Trump is beginning to crumble? Fingers crossed. I was pining for his assassination a while back, but Roger said the same as you, that it would lead to even more chaos and likely Civil War. We surely don’t need that.

      Liked by 1 person

        • True … and if they played a fair game, listened to their consciences (do they even have any?) then I would say it’s a matter of a short time. But, the money they are being paid … that, more than Trump himself, is the key, I’ve come to believe. Millions of dollars are give either directly or indirectly to these men and women to keep them toeing the party line, keep them loyal little lapdogs. Perhaps someday soon they will awaken?

          Liked by 1 person

          • This is why most democracies have to change the way political campaigns are waged. The amounts of money spent during each election are obscene and lead to corruption which is rampant. As well, present practices make it next to impossible for anyone other than the rich to run for high office. Unfortunately, many recognize this and don’t participate or vote. It isn’t a uniquely American problem, but every democracy needs to address it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You are quite right … the money that is wasted on buying politicians is obscene, especially in light of how many hungry people that money could feed. And it renders our voices silent for the most part. We do need to change … I’m not sure that there is the same level of blatant corruption in other Western democracies as there is in the U.S., although quite honestly, it is only in the last decade or so that I realized just how bad it is here. I would like to see money take out of the process altogether. All these corporations and lobbyist groups can donate to a central fund, with all proceeds being split equally among all candidates. It’s sad to realize that the old saying, “He who has the most toys, wins” is actually the truth when it comes to deciding who will represent us in our own government.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I’m thinking that the only way to truly drain the swamp is to return to the Greek origins of democracy and have every voter decide important issues via the Internet. Anyone who doesn’t want to vote can sit on the sidelines and watch the rest of us determine the major issues. We could elect people to study the major issues and report to the people. Then the people vote. Elected officials could vote as private citizens but their votes wouldn’t count any more than any other voter’s ballot. I think we’ve made government way too complicated – and expensive.

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                • The ancient Greeks had internet??? Who knew? 😉 Joking aside, though, I agree with you. We have made government so complex that the average person has very little understanding of how anything works, which is part of the reason for voter apathy. And We The People have far too little voice.

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  2. The death of the elder Bush magnifies the Trump nightmare we face today. I wonder how many staunch Republicans now are haunted by the contrast between the two Presidents in terms of values, dedication to country, and wartime experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly did/does highlight the differences between genuine presidents and the clown in the Oval Office. So far, I have heard a few die-hard Trumpites claim that Bush wasn’t all that great and point out only his flaws, of which he had many, just as we all do. Imagine making life-and-death decisions that will affect 300 million people without perfect knowledge … every day for four years! But overall, Bush stands miles above Trump.

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  3. bleak outlook and not without reason. But this assessment–I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him–falls short for me. I think the country will prevail.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 30% of 300,000,000 is still 90,000,000, quite enough people to form a formidable army. A civil war would not be a walk in the woods for either side. With the American military firmly in Dumbo’s back pocket, after firing tear gas at the caravan crowd (which I really hoped they would refuse to do on humane gtounds), that actually makes pro-Dumbo forces the stronger army. King Donnie is a lot closer than he was 12 months ago.
    I do not wish this outcome on you, but I can see it happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, a couple of points I would differ on. First, the military did not fire tear gas at the migrants … it was Customs & Border Patrol, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The military wasn’t involved in that at all. Second, I’m not so sure that the military would be firmly at Dumbo’s back. He has made them many promises that he hasn’t kept, and is giving veterans a particularly bum rap, so I think it’s quite possible that the military might just rebel.

      That said, I’m not looking for any bright, cheery outcomes and suspect we have some very ugly times ahead of us. I seriously doubt any return to a functional government that works for the people in my lifetime, but … one can hope.

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  5. There’s absolutely no doubt there will be damage and not just to the image of the Republican party or to the deluded followers who believed no ill of Trump.But, despite what Fox may have you believe if proof is presented you may be sure it is not to be denied. Since the protection of the Nation is first and foremost I don’t believe there’s any choice but to impeach and take action for Trump’s criminality. If it were me I’d be looking at stripping him of any profits he made during and because of the Presidency and treating it as the proceeds of crime and using it to pay back the Government for the money spent sending 500 troops to the border and for all the extra protection for members of his family flitting about. He has to be made an example of as do any members of his cabinet involved in this like the Russian meetings.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always like your optimism! The thing is that until at least 17 republican senators break free of Trump’s apron strings, there will be no impeachment. There is debate about whether he could be indicted for high crimes and treason, but I’m sure the debate would rage on well past the 2020 elections. I’m already hearing whisperings that the republican senators are prepared to claim that any evidence Mueller presents is inconclusive. Can he make a strong enough case that there can be no denial? I don’t know. While it would certainly be right and just for him to have to return, with interest, any profit he has made from his office, and money he has foolishly wasted, I will settle for having him either gone soon, or at the very least so tainted that the republican party will not back him in 2020. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jill, Blow gets to the heart of the matter. It has been my belief for more than a year, that the key is the financial link. Trump did not expect to win as he was using his candidacy to leverage contacts in Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc. Now that he won, that leveraging continues as he is enriching himself as President. This goes well beyond at people feeling obligated to stay at his DC hotel. He has deep ties into Russia (which he has denied during the campaign) and he has ties to Saudi Arabia, which he bragged on in the campaign and now denies in a strange twist.

    He is a walking conflict of interest and is grossly negligent in his job, as a result. His acquiescence to MSB and Putin is frightening. As Blow notes, there is far more to this story than Russian meddling which is why so much lying is going on by the Trumps and his lackeys. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you, and I hope that Mueller is able to tie all the loose ends together in such a way that none of it can be denied or ignored by Congress. His pandering to MBS and Putin is indeed scary, made even more so by his denigration of our allies. I wondered a few days ago if that is intentional … driving our allies away … so that if we need them, if he were to install himself as a dictator, our allies would by that point be so disgusted they would leave us to suffer whatever consequences. Yes, I know, my mind goes out to left field some days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, I saw a CNN poll today that said 54% of Americans think what Trump says about his Russia dealings is untrue. While this number is up, I am amazed it is this low, which show the power and influence of the marketing man in the White House. A man, who each of his five biographers and a sixth ghost author of “The Art of the Deal” said has a problem with the truth, has convinced his followers that everyone else is lying. That is absolutely amazing how he has been able to do that. This will go down in history as one of the biggest con jobs ever (that should assuage his ego calling him one of the biggest liars ever). Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • I saw that poll and wondered the exact same thing you did … are these people truly that stupid, or are they blind and deaf? Or, do they just so badly want not to be proven to have fallen for the biggest scam of the century? It is all beyond my comprehension. Sigh.

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          • Jill, much has to relate to cognitive dissonance. Trump’s tweets that everyone else is lying convinces them that it is others that are causing their angst. As Mark Twain said it is easier to fool someone than to convince him he has been fooled. Yet, yesterday was a big day – Cohen’s sentencing and comments and AMI corroborating the story, in essence, saying Trump lied. As the truth unfolds to the blind many that Trump has done what he has always done and consistently lied, those sycophants are going to look very foolish and deserve to. This is not surprising, except to those who have believed otherwise. Keith

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    • At the risk of being a naysayer, I’m not so sure that isn’t the path on which we are headed. Those who are willing to give up the democracy in favour of an isolationist policy, of a ‘strong man’ leader, would be content for a time with such a system, I fear. By the time they opened their eyes and realized the price they are paying, it might be too late to reverse course without major conflict. I hope I’m wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Agree wholeheartedly that he won’t go down without trying to take the country with him. It will get very ugly.

    And his cult will be the first ones to assist him in the takedown. Yes, they are that brainwashed and ignorant and racist. Plus their very view of themselves depends on their choice to support him. They’re in so deep now, they can never admit to a mistake in judgement. It’s like a religious fervor. They simply cannot admit to being fooled and being wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

    • He has played well on their fears of ‘other’, their desire to become a white, Christian society, and they are willing to give up much, including their own values it seems, in order to live in that society. Personally, it sounds dreadful to me and I want no part of it, but then, I am not a Trumpite. We are in for some interesting times … I’ll never run out of material for this blog, though I may run out of the energy or will to write it at some point.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Couldn’t have been said any better!! … ‘I don’t believe Drumpf will go down without bringing the country down with him. In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder. The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.’ … PLEASE, read Charles M. Blow full article!

    Liked by 3 people

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