Every appointment the would-be dictator makes enhances his growing power to mandate policy, enforce Executive Orders, dismantle regulatory constraints, control Federal law enforcement and judicial review. Trump becomes increasingly immune to scrutiny. Worse yet, this will be Trump’s lasting legacy. The Constitution be damned.
While every element of this is disturbing, the transparent effort to control our intelligence agencies by appointing Trump sycophants has serious repercussions for our efforts to combat foreign adversaries, the greatest of which is the most dangerous enemy of the U.S.–Russia.
John Ratcliffe has now withdrawn his candidacy for Director of National Intelligence. He is a Trump stooge who auditioned for the job by attacking Robert Mueller on TV. As has been revealed, he has no qualifications for the job, lied about his accomplishments and was, at best, a mediocre U.S. Attorney.
Trump, of course, intended to appoint him as Acting Director to avoid Senatorial oversight. Trump liked him because he would do what he was told, the major criterion for all appointments, much like his Barr Boy, William. That is the “vetting process” in Trump World. But Ratcliffe couldn’t handle the heat of scrutiny from the adults in Congress and our great investigative journalists.
After eliminating Coats who was too objective about the Russian threat and other matters, the job should have gone, by law. to the highly experienced (more than 30 years in intelligence service) second-in-command, Sue Gordon. Now she is retiring as Trump has announced that he will promote Joseph Maguire to replace Coats.
Senate and House Intelligence Committee members have expressed strong support for Sue Gordon and concern for the turmoil Trump is creating in the highest ranks of America’s intelligence community. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) strongly supported Gordon. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called these ousters a “devastating loss” that threatens intelligence agencies independence. Schiff called it for what it is:
“These losses of leadership, coupled with a president
determined to weed out anyone who may dare
disagree, represents one of the most challenging
moments for the intelligence community.”
Trump will find other characterless, die-hard Trumpers to fill other critical posts in our intelligence agencies who will then fail to pursue evidence of Russian interference in the 2020 Presidential election or challenge any of Trump’s nefarious foreign ties.
Trump is gearing up for the election by shoring up any chance that we have of stopping Putin’s efforts to re-elect him. He now has, in his Barr Boy, someone who won’t enforce Federal election laws (or any other law that Trump might violate) and Mitchell “Moscow Mitch” McConnell who shuts down efforts by the House to provide more funds to the states to safeguard our elections. He has already refused to bring two bills passed by the House to the floor of the Senate. Finally, McConnell is being called out by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, Joe Scarborough and others for what he very likely is, a Russian asset.
We must judge politicians for what they do, not what they say. Moscow Mitch protests that he is strongly opposed to Russian interference in our elections. His conduct is clear evidence otherwise.
In 2016, McConnell and other Congressional leaders were told by then CIA director, John Brennan, that Russia was interfering with the forthcoming election. Moscow Mitch did not express any alarm but, instead, accused Brennan of a political stunt.
In 2018, Trump exempted Oleg Deripaska from Russian sanctions. Later, McConnell quashed a bi-partisan House bill to reinstate Deripaska’s sanctions.
As reported by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post on McConnell’s Russian ties, “…it appears, he has been key to helping Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin skirt U.S. sanctions and invest in an aluminum mill in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.” (Emphasis added). Two former McConnell staffers are lobbyists for a 40% Russian owned aluminum business, as reported by Politico. The Russian aluminum giant announced it would invest $200 million in Kentucky. The oligarch who controls the aluminum sector in Russia is none other than Oleg Deripaska, a man with close ties to Putin, as the Mueller Report concludes. Deripaska employed Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to provide him with “political risk insurance,” as described by Gates in the Mueller Report. That means that Manafort led efforts to install (or bribe) politicians favorable to Deripaska in countries where the oligarch does business. Voila! Moscow Mitch, a preeminently influential politician, would be targeted by Putin/Deripaska. Has Trump’s bitch Mitch taken a healthy bribe? Certainly it appears so.
Lawyers in all states are required by ethics rules not only to avoid impropriety, but the appearance of impropriety. Our elected officials should be held to the same standard.
Robert Mueller has indicted three Russian agencies and thirteen Russian individuals for interference in the 2016 Presidential election and stated in sworn testimony that Russian intervention continues as we speak. Thereafter, the opposition to Russian intrusion by some of his Kentucky constituents may change McConnell’s tune so he can get re-elected and stay on the Russian gravy train. Nevertheless, it’s an uphill battle for McConnell to be voted out of office.
Our Founding Fathers wisely created three co-equal branches of government, with checks and balances in each branch. Our colonial intellects were no strangers to the oppressive authoritarian rule of kings and despots. George Washington could have been anointed as King of America, but refused such consideration.
It is the Congress, those elected by the people, who were entrusted with the power to stop presidential wrongdoing or the traitorous behavior of wanna be dictators. The Constitution addresses presidential malfeasance broadly, high crimes and misdemeanors. Surely, Trump’s conduct fits such broad parameters. Only the House of Representatives can issue Articles of Impeachment. The House, and the House alone, can impeach a sitting president, but only the Senate can convict.
Our three branches of government are all being diminished, bending more evidently to Trump’s control.
A co-equal branch of government to the Executive branch has been severely weakened because of spineless Republicans’ control of the Senate, unilaterally dictated by McConnell. These disreputable politicians fear for their “phony baloney jobs” as Mel Brooks once put it. This feckless bunch has no confidence they can get re-elected without Trump support. A corrupt Senate leader with Republican control of the Senate gives Trump effective control of Congress. At a minimum, he can block anything that the House may initiate, including a successful impeachment.
McConnell has been very effective at blocking needed legislation and shamelessly stonewalled Obama’s candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, until the end of Obama’s second term. Unheard of!
The only thing he has been good at is installing conservative pro-Trump Federal judges throughout the judicial system–now over 140 such judges! Two new Supreme Court Justices auditioned with Trump for the nomination and Trump’s Senate stooge rammed them through for life-time appointments.
House committees have been frustrated by Trump’s broad assertions of Executive Privilege concerning subpoenas of witnesses who have refused to appear. This will be tied up endlessly in Federal court litigation and likely go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, led by conservative Trump appointees.
How many of these numerous appointees will do Trump’s bidding? Certainly, Trump expects all of them to do so. For example, U.S. District Court Judge, Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, is frustrating New York’s attempt to share Trump’s state tax returns with the House Ways and Means Committee, with Trump’s Attorney General making Trump’s case. This is one instance that will be repeated in our Federal Judicial System.
Trump’s ultra-conservative judicial legacy will continue long after Trump and his bitch, Mitch, are gone.
3) Executive Branch
Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” which Americans assumed would wipe out the industry lobbyists and other political influencers and hangers-on. Not at all. At least 187 Trump appointees were lobbyists for industries they regulate and Trump staffers have been given waivers of their financial conflicts, as reported by ProPublica.
A Democratic Administration would seek greater, more effective regulation of industries, while a Republican Administration would seek reduce regulations and cut the red tape impairing economic progress.
In the Trump Administration we are seeing much more than paring down regulations while leaving the regulatory framework in place. We are seeing the growing impotence of our regulatory system. And this is happening in many different ways–with the same outcome.
- Install Someone Who Has Been on the Payroll of the Regulated Industry for Years.
First, and most obvious, is putting a pliant and willing regulator who will do Trump’s bidding in charge. This is the number one criterion. Everything else is a distant second. If you fail to dutifully follow instructions, you will have a short tenure, as we have seen. Let’s not forget the loss of General and Secretary of Defense Mattis, for example.
To name a few of the most powerful lobbyists running critical agencies of our Federal government, out of 187 embedded in Trump World, consider the authority and impact of these men in these critical areas
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler was a coal company lobbyist.
Food and Drug Administrator Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has received payments from a dozen pharmaceutical companies and has been on 8 pharma boards of directors.
- Reduce Staff at Critical Agencies by Failure to Fill Vacancies.
The State Department, the most powerful Cabinet position in foreign affairs, failed to fill vacancies. and Trump often left Rex Tillerson out of the loop. The Secretary of State registered his frustrations. Trump feels he is the stable genius to run the State Department? Tillerson never denied he said that Trump was a moron.
The effect has been to lose well-experienced career diplomats diminishing the capabilities of State.
Putin feared a Hillary Presidency, but de-fanging State is certainly part of his wish-list.
The SEC, which regulates Wall Street, has been understaffed under a number of Administrations, and that is continuing in the Reign of Trump.
- C. Stop Enforcing the Regulations
Security and Exchange Commission Chairman, Jay Clayton, pledged to reduce regulations and apparently enforcement, too. Since Clayton took office, there have been dramatically fewer enforcement actions initiated than were started by the past two prior Chairpersons of the SEC.
- Starve Regulatory Budgets
The Trump White House has leverage over costs of investigation and enforcement. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, created under the Paper Reduction Act, has put financial constraints on a number of regulatory agencies, diminishing their effectiveness. Such costs include imposing caps on the costs an agency can impose on regulated industries. Until recently, that post was held by Neomi Rao, with whom Trump is well pleased. He has appointed her to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Relocate Agency Employees to a Distant City
Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, has relocated the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service to Kansas City. As a result, key agricultural scientists and others have left the agency. Our government and the private sector depend on these scientists and researchers. Shutting down science is a Trump World goal.
- Grant Agency Exemptions/Cancellations to Favored Regulated businesses
Trump is proposing an exemption from Department of Agriculture oversight for genetically modified crops.
Hundreds of Obama-era regulations have been cancelled.
- Freezing and Delaying Regulations
One of the first acts of the Trump Administration was a freeze on all pending regulations, sent to all departments and regulating agencies.
Numerous regulations remain “in Rulemaking” or delayed, according to a study by the Brookings Institute.
There is serious question concerning the ethics of many Trump appointees. The heads of two powerful agencies have resigned in shame for ethics violations and other scandals., Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt. More to come.
Another four years in Trump World will embolden Trump further, if one can imagine that. He will rightly declare a mandate to tighten his grip further on all branches of our government as the final arbiter of all issues.
Is there any doubt that this delusional man seeks to be a dictator as powerful as his hero, Vladimir. In Helsinki, Trump was cowering and dominated by a more powerful leader who has the upper hand, for many reasons we suspect or believe, but must prove.
Our President diminishes our Western allies and praises murderous dictators. He publicly wonders if the U.S. will have a President for life, blatantly probing for support for him to be the totalitarian dictator.
He currently controls enough of the three branches of our government to be in control. If that doesn’t frighten Americans to vote him out of office, nothing will. The elimination of our Constitution and democratic way of life will be the consequence.