Hillary loyalists frantic to paralyse Trump Presidency (Sunday Guardian)
By M D Nalapat Donald Trump’s backers warn that Washington Beltway’s Plan A is to secure his removal or resignation. In case that fails, Plan B is to ensure he withdraws from the 2020 contest.
New York: Many, if not most, genuine loyalists of the 45th President of the United States are in the world’s most famous metropolis. They are clustered within Manhattan, the location where the worldwide Trump Organisation is headquartered, and which has been home to four generations of what since 20 January 2017 is the First Family of the world’s most powerful country. While some of the few who are personally close to Donald J. Trump outed themselves to the media, the blowback from such exposure (including stealthy efforts to implicate them in the unfolding “Get Trump” campaign) have ensured that genuine, usually long-term, Trump confidants keep a low public profile in these days of incessant persecution of Number 45 (the 45th President of the United States). However, in private, they say with pride in their friend that the manner in which President Trump has remained unbowed in the face of the most vicious attack ever attempted during more than a century on a sitting President, has made their faith in the man grow stronger. Those who know Trump say that he is “no quitter”, and that he has “come safely out of disasters that could have destroyed the career, if not the life, of another man”. They add unanimously that the Trump response to smears and innuendo is to “ignore them and press forward on the course he believes in” and finally succeed, as indeed became clear during the 2016 contest for the US Presidency. Those who know and believe in the man are certain that the Washington Beltway, the US equivalent of India’s Lutyens Zone, will fail in its 24/7 efforts at forcing President Donald John Trump to resign on his own as a consequence of the barrage of abuse and attempted legal jeopardy that the 45th US President has been subjected to since he contested against and bested the Empress of the Beltway, Hillary R. Clinton, on 8 November 2016.
THERE IS NO CASE
According to a key insider, the Beltway’s Trump traducers are by now aware that “there is no sustainable (impeachment) case” against the President. This, plus his stubborn refusal to get cowed down by the hourly fusillade of accusations, has resulted in “the focus shifting to getting President Trump to agree to a single full term in office” through declining—well before 2020—to stand for re-election in that year’s contest. In the scenario scripted by the Washington Beltway, “should Trump not do a Nixon and resign, the next best outcome is for him to do a Lyndon Johnson and rule himself out of standing for a second term”. Within the Congressional Republican leadership, “there are several who are hoping—some indeed expecting—such a development”. In the meantime, the effort of both his closet and open detractors is to “paralyse the President from doing his duty”, despite the harmful effects of such a “Scorch the President” strategy on overall US interests. Although the direct cost of the various “Oust Trump” probes has been calculated last week at $29 million, a Trump loyalist, who spends much of each week in Washington, claimed that the actual cost to the US taxpayer “exceeded $280 million” if the value gets calculated of the manhours lost in numerous agencies as a consequence of the frenetic Beltway effort to bring to a premature close the Trump administration.
THE HILLARY CONNECTION
Capitals across the world had taken as foreordained during 2016 that Hillary Clinton would prevail over Donald Trump, a businessperson and billionaire whom Bill and Hillary Clinton themselves regarded as a “dream candidate” to run against in the Presidential race. But for the revulsion caused among numerous Democratic Party voters at the manner in which the party’s nomination had been stolen by the Clinton-loaded Democratic Party machine from the idealistic Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, the Washington Beltway would have had its own dream candidate, Hillary Clinton, ensconced in the White House once again, this time not as First Lady but as First Citizen, the President of the United States. Although Sanders himself (even after being cheated of the Democratic Party nomination) sought to follow the example of “Number 44”, President Barack Obama—who together with his photogenic and brainy spouse Michelle switched from the role of the nation’s Commander-in Chief to being, for four months in the second half of 2016, the Campaigner-in-Chief for his former Secretary of State—several of both Sanders as well as Obama supporters witnessed in themselves a decline in motivation at the prospect of a Hillary Rodham Clinton Presidency. This pervasive mood affected the Democratic Party campaign and prevented enough of the party faithful from first campaigning for and afterwards casting their ballots in the numbers needed to ensure a victory for the Empress of the Beltway. A factor in such a development was the fact that almost the entire top layer of the Clinton campaign was composed of long-term loyalists of the Clinton family, with almost no substantive representation given to operatives from the Obama and Sanders camp. Across the US, more than 600 top-level policymakers were preparing to take up important positions in what they were certain would be the third term of a Clinton administration. Nearly 200 of them had already been interviewed by the Clinton (loyalist) staff or by the candidate herself for the major roles being assigned to them, and they were livid at the electoral verdict for being deprived of the opportunity to “serve the people” through occupying high office. Several Republican Beltway denizens (in the manner of the Lutyens Lok who are prominent in the BJP) were equally unhappy, given that the incoming President declined to select as key staff those who had publicly cast doubts not just on his intellect, but on his very sanity, a ridiculous charge against an internationally known success who has managed a huge business for four decades. Meanwhile, then FBI director Robert Mueller and other Clinton-leaning Beltway notables in the government had over their years in office “wilfully ignored” the manner of functioning of institutions such as the Clinton Foundation, several of whose real donors were from the Middle East and the Far East.
THE MISTAKE TRUMP MADE
The starting misstep made by the incoming President of the US was to accept advice from some within his advisors to extend a hand of friendship to the sizeable anti-Trump Republican cohort within the Beltway, as a consequence of which several of them got chosen by Trump to occupy sensitive positions that previous incumbents (who had far greater experience of politics than the newbie politician) had avoided. Son-in-law Jared Kushner was among those who advised the President-elect to “reach out to his foes”, even to those Beltway grandees who had not done anything to support the Trump campaign, but had instead disparaged it, albeit privately. Even the super-sensitive Chief of Staff position got filled by Reince Priebus, an individual with zero personal loyalty to Trump. Priebus looked not to President Trump, but to the Congressional leadership of the Republican Party for validation and guidance, and many of these party leaders focused on ensuring that their own personal agendas got fulfilled in the new administration, irrespective of whether these damaged the President or not. The new Chief of Staff succeeded in filling several key slots with loyalists not of Donald J. Trump, but of the Republican Congressional leadership, many of whom had worked openly to deny Trump the party’s nomination for the 2016 Presidential contest. Among the most consequential “closet Trump-phobic individuals” selected was Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein, who wasted little time in persuading Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia probe, so as to bring in a close friend, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, as the Special Counsel to investigate accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential elections. A team overtly hostile to the Trump Presidency was quickly assembled by Mueller at taxpayer expense, and they have since embarked on a mission to try and locate actions by “Number 45” during previous years that could result in a process of impeachment sufficient to force President Trump’s resignation from the world’s most consequential office. However, the 45th President of the United States has refused to be “shocked and awed into submission by the Mueller witch-hunt”. The Special Counsel is carrying out a transparent effort to indict those close to the US President on charges often wholly unrelated to the Trump campaign. Those familiar with the developing situation claim that those former and current Trump aides who are under the Special Counsel’s scanner are being given the choice to “either assist in creating a made-up dossier on Trump or face jail time”. Not surprisingly, most have succumbed and are now “reading mechanically from the script prepared for them” by the visibly Trump-phobic Mueller team of investigators. A long-term Trump admirer claimed that partial acceptance of the (Special Counsel) script results in “only a partial lowering of possible prison time”, and that “only those who march 100% to Mueller’s tune are to be given full exemption from prison”. However, it must be said that several of those who know and have worked with Special Counsel Robert Mueller say that he is not a hatchet man, but a professional who does not allow personal opinions to affect his investigations. Given that Mueller’s true task is to find out something in Trump’s past that can be leveraged into an impeachment or enforced resignation of the President of the United States, the length of time he is taking to complete his report indicates that the Washington Beltway, despite its efforts, is finding it difficult to conjure up an impeachable case against Trump. Meanwhile, Beltway media are allowing themselves to be saturated by stories about how Number 45 “acted criminally” by, among other such presumed misdeeds, paying too much attention to details about his own Inauguration on 20 January 2017 or preferring loyalists to traducers within his staff and broader White House team. Or even running his own business. Such presentations ignore the fact that almost every US President has given personal attention to his inauguration ceremonies, or that the costs of the same are largely borne by private contributions, rather than by the exchequer. And that almost all politicians prefer their loyalists to occupy key slots.
‘TRUMP MUST WITHDRAW FROM 2020 RACE’
Trump’s backers say that Plan A of the Washington Beltway is to “secure the removal or resignation of the President through digging up enough from the past to ensure his downfall”. In case that fails, Plan B is to “ensure that he is unable to bear the strain of further rounds of 24/7 campaign of calumny against not only himself but close family” and therefore withdraws from the 2020 contest, immediately converting himself into a lame duck. It is not a surprise that there is such visceral antipathy towards the New York businessperson turned politician. Several actions taken by Trump Presidency have put at risk several Beltway careers. For example, what may be termed the Wahhabi International has since the 1980s funded a large number of former officials and academics in the US, besides helping set up think-tanks that would “independently” promote the Wahhabi viewpoint and leadership. This group has swung into action against Trump on the issue of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which the Wahhabi International is using to fuel a global campaign designed to oust Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) from office. MbS is the first Saudi royal in the history of the Kingdom to seek to replace the hitherto dominant Wahhabi tint in policy with a more moderate Islam that is more in tune with the sublime message of the Holy Quran. The Wahhabis are enraged at Trump’s refusal to sever friendly ties with the 34-year-old, who is in line to take over the governance of the Islamic world’s most consequential country. The continuance of MbS in office threatens the lavish bounty that the Wahhabi-funded lobby in the US has grown accustomed to, as does the US President’s open war on a system of belief that has spawned misery and terrorism across the globe, till now with US official backing
In much the same way, the sizeable number of Beltway charter members, who have over the years developed lucrative ties to China, are at risk of having such largesse reduced if not eliminated altogether, given that they have been useless in preventing President Trump from being more tough on the People’s Republic of China than any—repeat, any—of his predecessors. They too have, therefore, joined the lists against President Trump. The still dominant Atlanticist lobby within the Beltway also seeks to do away with the Trump Presidency out of fear that they will be rendered marginal in policymaking circles should Donald J. Trump revert to his campaign promises of a better relationship with Russia, a switch in policy that would be detrimental to the standing of Berlin, Paris and even London within a US-led alliance. The most toxic strand in Trump’s policies where the Washington Beltway is concerned is the White House effort to replace a greatly diminished Moscow with a resurgent Beijing as Foe Number One of US global interests. Such a shift would reduce to a much lowlier position an Atlanticist establishment that has fattened itself on the Europe-centred foreign policy of the US since the 1939-45 global conflict between the Axis and the Allied combatants. Those close to President Trump are clear that he will “ensure that the US remains Number One and China a permanent Number Two throughout the 21st century, if not longer”, a forecast that would have been regarded as fanciful before Trump began his series of moves to weaken the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party
MUELLER’S NEXT TARGET
Given that it is proving unexpectedly difficult for the Special Counsel to fashion a sufficiently strong case against President Trump himself, the President’s backers worry that Mueller’s next best course would be to attempt to shake Trump’s confidence and longevity in office by seeking to indict one of the President’s sons or son-in-law Jared Kushner. Such a development would deepen the atmosphere of crisis in Washington, and is designed to lead to a paralysis of the Presidential will, such that “the Administration will be on auto pilot mode”, incapable of grand initiatives and sinking ever lower in public standing. Even as President Trump fights off his detractors by ramping up his policy initiatives, including against the Wahhabi International and on the danger of the US being overtaken by China, the Beltway elite that has been thwarted by him of the spoils of high office is boosting its efforts at ensuring the downfall of the current President of the US, including through Beltway moles inserted within Team Trump. Given that a still feisty and resilient Donald Trump is holding on to the Presidency and to much of the policy framework favoured by him (and which he had promised voters in 2016 that he would implement) , the Washington Beltway has accelerated 24/7 efforts to ensure that the US Administration over the next two years “retreats into a shell because the President would be rendered paralysed” for the remainder of his term in office. Rather than anything done by President Trump, it is such relentless hammering away at the effectiveness and resolve of an elected President of the US that constitutes a hostile act against US interests. Those backing President Trump say that this unprecedented battle focussed on regime change to avoid new 21st century policies favoured by Donald Trump “will fail the way such moves have all his life”.