1. Billions of people all over the world have been shaking their heads in shock, wondering how the USA elected a comprehensively corrupt man like Donald Trump to be their President in November 2016. Throughout his election campaign his vile intentions, motives and views had been clear for anyone to see and hear. He is now not so much a President as an ongoing serious political crisis, at the head of the most powerful country on earth.
The USA's Constitution and its Laws did nothing to prevent him from rising through the USA's toxic political-business culture. They did nothing to prevent him standing for election as President of the most politically, economically and militarily powerful country on earth. They did nothing to prevent him from conducting a corrupt election campaign. The US Constitution and Laws have (so far) not derailed him in Office, but we begin this section with the good news : That prospect is getting closer. If Trump's Republicans do badly in the Autumn 2018 US Elections (as some forecast) this will severely reduce both their power and his. The Impeachment of Trump may suddenly become much more likely (if it has not already happened before then, see the next three paragraphs). Could Impeachment really happen ?
Some Good News : Trump Is Heading Into Big Trouble
2. Since May 2017, a Special Counsel investigation has been led by Robert Mueller, a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The starting point for this investigation was to examine claims of Russian interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election, including exploring any links or coordination between Trump's campaign and the Russian government, "and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation". Mueller has an experienced and expert team and his investigation has taken over several FBI investigations relating to Trump. Many other matters have also quickly "arisen" so the investigation is broadening. It is assembling evidence of Trump's multiple wrongdoings and illegalities - well beyond the 'Russian interference' issue.
3. In April 2018 the home and offices of Trump's personal Lawyer (and general 'Fixer') were raided by the FBI. From this it is clear that suspicions of serious crimes must have "arisen" during investigations by the FBI and by Mueller. Only this
could have justified a Judge in New York issuing the Search Warrant on the President's personal Lawyer. This places the sitting President of the USA just a heartbeat, or less, away from any crimes that have been committed. Interestingly, the Prosecutor has said that Trump's Lawyer / Fixer is under criminal investigation and as far as they can tell he appears to only have one client - Trump. This has placed Trump, his lawyer (plus Trump's family and other associates) under extreme pressure. As the whole world knows, Trump cannot take extreme pressure. His protestations that this investigation (and the growing media coverage of its progress) is all a 'Witchunt' against him, and his hints that he may sack Mueller, are growing louder daily.
4. If he did sack Mueller this act alone could precipitate Trump's Impeachment. That sacking alone would also not stop the FBI's pursuit of the crimes and the criminals, whatever and whoever they are. It is vital here to look at the precedent of Richard Nixon, the corrupt and disgraced former President of the USA who sacked a Prosecutor in 1973. Nixon was Impeached and forced to resign in 1974 (there is more on this in paragraph 40 below) for his leading role in the 'Watergate scandal'. For those of us around the world who have been shaking our heads, the 'Trump era' may have been happening painfully slowly, but there is a real prospect that his Impeachment may not be so far away ! Or maybe he will, at some point, jump before he is pushed - just like Nixon ? President or not, revelations of criminality may not be very far away. Based on our vivid memories of the Nixon end-game, it seems we are now moving inexorably into Trump's end times.
Trump’s Personal Trustworthiness - or Lack of It
5. Trump epitomises (among other ills) patriarchy in an extreme form. In fact, Trump’s deep mysogyny and sexism were well-established many years before the USA's 2016 election campaign even began. His business involvements with Casinos, model agencies and the Miss universe contest had thrown up a number of fundamental questions about his personality and behaviour. Stories about his relationship with porn stars and the trafficking of young models and drugs at parties hosted by Trump have been swilling around in the US press and media for years and they are not reducing but growing with time.
6. During his election campaign he was caught on tape bragging about his sexual assaults on women. At the time of writing
(late 2017) he has so far been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 16 women. A group of these women have asked the US Congress to investigate him. Since he took up office the whole world has seen how he is unable to stop himself from bragging about many things - anything. Asked a serious question about a serious matter he will often leave the question and start bragging and inflating his own ego. Everything is about self-aggrandising - about selling himself and his 'brand', driven solely by his self-image.
7. As his campaign progressed it was obvious that his flagrant lying, misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia, fascism (more on this below) and other multiple defects are all packaged inside an emotionally immature, impetuous, narcissistic, ignorant, egomaniac who is simply a Con Artist. Fundamentally, that is what he is : A trash-talking real estate Con Artist, with a lust for money and power, among other things. In his first year in office he has shown that he is capable of crossing just about every red line there is. It is a horrifying problem that the whole world is watching unfold - in the leader of the most militarily and financially powerful nation on earth, helped by his enablers, collaborators and supporters.
The USA’s Business-Political Culture - Trump is an Unsurprising Result
8. Trump's life inside the USA’s toxic business culture (including in celebrity TV) has meant that he has never needed to have any coherent or respectable political philosophy or morality, which could be debated, challenged and investigated. His fascism (more on this below) - like all fascism – emerges from his own ignorance and thrives on the complacency of others. Trump began his ‘career’ with the privileges of his father’s fortune plus some shark-like instincts which he has used (despite some major ‘mistakes’) to con his way to a bigger fortune in the real-estate world. Underneath all this, the descriptors ‘sociopath’ and psychopath’ are the key to defining the internals of the Trump problem. He is fact-averse and could not care less about the massive harms he does to anyone else, he is oblivious to them. All that matters in Trump world is himself.
9. With enough experience of life, you might have come across people with some of these traits before and you can spot problem personalities like Trump at a distance. Anyone who studies his history will see that the ‘Trump Problem’ has been running through his whole adult life (i.e. five decades). From birth he has lived as a privileged and increasingly rich person inside the USA’s hyper-capitalist and toxic business-political culture. In his business life there have been several insolvencies, many defaults, people have been ripped off, and there have been many, many lies. Through all of this Trump's vile and narcissistic personality traits seem to have develop unchecked.
10. Trump is not alone, either in the US or globally. Within the US he is one of many thousands of rich and powerful people with similar mindsets and instincts, moving around in the same toxic political-business culture – the advanced form of today’s neoliberal capitalism. He is now surrounded in his cabinet and his administration by thousands of like-minded millionaires, billionaires, business people, press and media moguls, celebrities and Republican party supporters who share Trump's venal right-wing mentality. Since this is the toxic pool from which the USA picks its leaders it is no surprise that the politicians who emerge from it are poisonous and poisoning. The USA is the 'Holy Land' of neoliberal capitalism and Trump and his toxic tribe are at its core. There is no clearer example of 'State Capture' in the world today. In the
USA this toxic culture spreads beyond the Republican party - too many in the US Democratic party have been the same, or very similar. A 2014 study of 1,779 policy issues by the US academics Martin Gilens and Benjamin I Page showed that the majority of americans have little influence over the policies their government adopts. Their government adopts the policies put forward by the economic elite and its many interest groups. The preferences of the average american appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact on public policy. So, people like Trump (ensconced in the economic elite) has many enablers and collaborators and they are all complicit in what he is doing. Like Russia (and plenty of other countries) the USA is not a democracy but an Oligarchy, run by and for the tiny minority that is the ultra-rich. This economic elite use their big money to fund the two big political parties and the politicians. This elite also own the mainstream press and media and social media and they use these to create the political culture which ensures the government pursues policies that go on expanding their own wealth and power. The consequence of this is that the mass majority of citizens have long since had democracy stolen from them and are having all the destructive policies of ‘Austerity’ shoved down their throats. This is the core of neoliberal capitalism, a disastrous ideology which so many countries over the past four decades have been pursuing. The USA is the 'holy land' of this fundamentalist belief system.
11. When the minority (only 27%) of the USA's eligible electorate voted for Trump (whatever else they were thinking) they were choosing between two evils offered to them by the US’s two-party Oligarchy. They clearly chose a con artist - one who reflects and represents the ugliest things in american culture. Both the candidates stood for the interests of the rich, of Wall Street and of corporate power. All US Presidents over the past several decades (at least) have shared this loyalty to the rich, so Trump is just the latest – albeit very dangerous - progression of this pattern. Most of his policy preferences are the same as or similar to other recent US Presidents, candidates, politicians or elite political groups. He is really an outcome or consequence of the bigger problems with the US’s political-business culture and system.
Systemic Problems Opened the Door To Trump
12. As stated above, it helps to remember that Trump was elected into the most powerful position in the world by only 27% of the USA’s eligible electorate. Many of the electorate chose not to vote and many were prevented from voting (as always happens in the USA’s nightmarishly dysfunctional version of ‘democracy’). Why those 27% could not distinguish this man as a con artist is a question to ponder.
The answer seems to be that people like him and the values he personifies have been normalised over many decades within the US and its political-business culture. So, nobody should have been surprised when his campaign promises to look after the interests of ‘the working man’ were immediately dropped after he took office. Since then Trump has been doing the opposite - that's what Con Artists do. The reality is that Trump and his Republican Party set to work destroying public and welfare services, implementing lavish tax giveaways for the rich and inflicting tax increases on the poor. They are also trying to reshape the American Constitution to suit themselves and their super-rich and corporate friends, rigging the system to benefit themselves even more in the longer term.
13. However bad Trump has been so far (this was written in December 2017), sadly the worst of him is probably yet to come. He and his collaborators and enablers are implementing more and more policies that poison and divide the USA and threaten security across the world. People are right to be very anxious about him but Trump is an unsurprising consequence of three even bigger and long-term systemic US problems :
(a) Firstly the awful state of the money-centred and lies-driven toxic US business-political culture (this has suited him very well throughout his rise in business and politics) - it has given Trump many enablers, collaborators and supporters;
(b) Secondly the defects in the US Constitution and electoral system (which allowed a person like Trump to gain presidential power).
(c) Thirdly, the inability of the US Constitution and Laws to, without delay, suspend or dismiss a bad leader (and his many collaborators) and make them accountable for things which should be unconstitutional or illegal.
14. Even if Trump was to disappear tomorrow, these big problems with the US Constitution and political culture would still exist and need to be solved. He alone is not ‘the big problem’. The big problem is that of
‘State Capture’. The US has long ago been captured, taken over by the extreme right-wing economic elite, the rich, big business and corporations, interested only in enriching themselves at the expense of ordinary citizens and weaker countries. Trump is an outcome / consequence of these bigger systemic problems in the USA. However old and dysfunctional this system is, it could be changed. The election system could be changed. The funding of elections could be changed. The qualifications and qualities of candidates could be assured by a ‘quality system’. The Presidential role and responsibilities could be changed. Policy changes made by Trump could one day be reversed. More socially just policies could eventually be taken forward. Much could be changed but we will not let hope overtake expectations.
Trump in the White House – A World of Wrongdoings
15. We looked above at Trump’s problematic personality before he took office. Turning to the problems he is now causing in office, we can here only scratch the surface of this ongoing political crisis. Even before the day he took office he had already established himself as (and partly turned the USA into) a laughing-stock across the whole world – but a very dangerous one, who now has his finger on the USA’s military and other resources and on its nuclear button.
16. Since Trump entered office in January 2017 the shock and disbelief has not subsided but grown with daily examples of his gross personality defects, irrational decisions, impetuous announcements often via Tweets, and the implications of these for the citizens of the USA and the world. Below we will just highlight a few actual examples of what he has done so far. In his first year in office there have been so many alarming Trump words or deeds – we are all spoiled for choice - but we have just picked a few.
(a) Trump's Nepotism
17. Trump is inimical to democracy. His nepotism was clear from the start. His wife, children and other family members attend important meetings, including with leaders of other states. They are presented by Trump as if they are elected representatives of the USA – of course none of them are any such thing. They turn up in important meetings of international bodies as the official representatives of the US. Neither the US Constitution nor the Laws of the country or its political-legal institutions seem to prevent this. Through his family and associates he also appears to have effortlessly preserved his own vast business interests in close parallel with his role as President – apparently untroubled by the law or the constitution.
(b) Divide and Rule – By a Poisoning, Polarising Politician
18. His poisonous personality has continued fomenting division and anxiety within the USA. It is a country now
more divided and destabilised than it has been since its Civil War in the 1860s. Everything about him is deeply divisive. The fact that only 27% of the eligible electorate voted for him gives hope - if this base of public support declines. If it does, then the possibility that he will be impeached by his own Republican party will increase. But don’t hold your breath. The Republicans are finding that having Trump drawing all the attention to his ‘shop window’ is giving them great cover, diverting public attention away from other Trump problems, keeping some of what they have been doing out of sight, in the shadows. The Republican party has always depended on ‘divide and rule’ as a core of their strategy and Trump is a perfect fit with them.
(c) Trump’s Travel Ban
19. One of his promises during the 2016 election campaign was his islamophobic travel ban on people from Muslim-majority countries. This has caused much outrage around the world but Trump listens only to his own bigotry and to others who are equally bigoted. After a few months of legal blocks the US Supreme Court voted to allow the wholesale implementation of the measure in relation to six countries, pending the outcome of various legal challenges. That was an important legal victory for Trump. It may be months or years before the Supreme Court delivers a final verdict.
(d) Trump - The Fascist President
20. In August 2017 Trump praised racist and hate-filled, torch-bearing neo-Nazi Ku Klux Klan (KKK) white supremacists (many of them armed) at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He suggested that these neo-Nazis KKK white
supremacists and those demonstrating peacefully against them were both to blame for the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville. Trump claimed that the neo-Nazis KKK were merely expressing peaceful disagreement with the planned removal of a statue of the confederate slavery-supporting Robert E. Lee. The Fascist and fact-averse Trump was utterly wrong.
21. The demonstrators standing against the neo-Nazis KKK engaged in no violence whatsoever. The whole event was filmed by TV crews and many social media users. The only violence was committed by the neo-Nazi KKK white supremacists. One of them drove a car at speed into the peaceful demonstrators, injuring several and killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant with a law firm in Virginia, who was a champion of civil rights. The demonstration, of which she was part, against the neo-Nazi KKK white supremacists was entirely peaceful and legal. Shortly afterwards a 20-year old man was arrested and charged with Heather Heyer’s murder.
22. The torch-bearing was hugely significant in the US because it is a direct ‘take’ from the awful rallies, lynchings and burnings carried out by the fascist and racist KKK through the twentieth century. The current leader of the KKK lead the neo-Nazi fascists in Charlottesville. For any US politician (nevermind a President) to support neo-Nazi KKK white supremacy sent big shock waves throughout the US and around the world.
23. Numerous world leaders (even some not very worthy ones) quickly criticized Trump,
condemned him for his views and disassociated themselves and their countries from him. A commonly expressed point was that : “There is no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them”. Trump’s profound ignorance and bigotry underpins all his racist, fascist views and he can obviously never see that he is wrong (about anything), much less ever admit an error. The whole world understands this about him and it has been confirmed by his own actions and words many times – this is a serious character weakness in Trump.
24. Among many criticisms of Trump from other leaders were :
• "The 'leader of the free world' loses moral authority when he cannot call fascism by its name"
• "The president of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame."
• ”Trump has shown he is unable to detach himself from the extreme right and racial supremacists"
• "What happened in Charlottesville was the Ku Klux Klan and its supporters, white supremacists, arrived in Charlottesville in order to cause trouble. Surely every president of every country in the world should be able to condemn that."
25. Even leading figures in Trump's Republican party reacted angrily to his comments, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying: "White supremacy is repulsive. There can be no moral ambiguity.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) expressed outrage : "The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate," She declared on Twitter : "This is sick." Since then Trump has stuck to his disgraceful views, forever faithful to his own ego. In February 2018 Trump asked his military officials to start organising a massive public display of US Military forces. No doubt, he imagines himself at the centre of this, just like all the worst fascist leaders in history.
(e) ‘Taking A Knee’ Highlights Trump’s Fascism
26. We applaud the many professional sports people and others in the USA who, following Charlottesville (see above) chose not to stand for the US national anthem but to go down on one knee – to ‘take a knee’.
27. In August 2016 Colin Kaepernick (*see Note below), a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, first kneeled during the playing of the USA's national anthem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to protest against the multiple killings of African Americans by US police officers. Some other players then also refused to stand, followed his example and 'Took the Knee'. In September 2017, at a rally in Alabama Trump ranted about these football players who 'Took the Knee' during the national anthem, calling on the football club owners (“friends of mine”) to fire any “son of a bitch” who dared to protest.
28. Later, on Twitter, Trump retracted an invitation that had been given to NBA champions the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after the team’s star player, Stephen Curry, expressed reservations. This action by Trump ensured that the ‘Take a Knee’ protest went viral. Dozens of football stars and other athletes 'Took the Knee' over that weekend, as did musicians Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams and John Legend. Now, because of his Alabama rally rant (and his accompanying Tweets) their target was clearly Trump.
29. In this and other ways Trump is making himself perhaps the best inspiration for protest ever seen in the USA. Many famous black athletes and entertainers have protested in the past and been respected for it, not just in the USA but around the world. In 1964 Baseball hero Jackie Robinson abandoned the racist Barry Goldwater’s Republican party in 1964, because it had given him “a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany”. The career of the great boxer Muhammad Ali was greatly damaged and he risked
jail and the end of his career by refusing the Vietnam war draft in 1967. Athletics stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their gloved fists in a salute for human rights (often called the Black Power salute) while standing on the winners podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. They had just won the Gold and Bronze Medals in the 200 metres final. The Australian winner of the Silver Medal Peter Norman was told in advance by Smith and Carlos that they planned to protest on the podium and, to his everlasting credit, he said “I’ll stand with you” - and he did, despite the Australian authorities refusing ever to select him again to run for his country. In 1974 the musician Stevie Wonder taunted the then President Richard Nixon in ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin’, which topped the US charts the week that Nixon was forced to resign over his Watergate scandal. On the issue of ‘taking a knee’, as on so many other issues Trump behaves like a vindictive and impetuous bully with the attention span of a small child.
30. In Trump’s world he imagines that everyone should, exactly like him, see the American flag and the national anthem as the highest, most sacred symbols, not so much of America’s stature but of his own importance, his own stature. He assumes that he is integral with the symbols of state and that everyone should defer to him and accept his word on all things. His support for the neo-Nazi white supremacists at Charlottesville (see above) and his reaction to ‘Taking a Knee’ are about as clear a sign of fascism as you can ever get. Think of Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain - these were the three most infamous fascist leaders in history (but not the only ones), responsible for carnage in their own countries and elsewhere on a horrendous scale.
They insisted that they were the State, the State was embodied by them, they were the absolute rulers, everyone else was subservient to them. They insisted that their sick version of ultra 'patriotism' must be followed by everyone - the symbols, insignias, flags and anthems of the state were entirely tied up with their own personal image and power which must be defended and displayed above all else. They employed highly stage-managed public rallys, placing themselves above everyone else, at the centre of every event. Trump is copying them.
31. He wants every public appearance, every one of his stage-managed rallies and every state occasion to reflect his self-importance. If you do not think that Trump has yet shown any signs of Fascism then you have not been paying attention. In February 2018 he asked his military officials to start organising a massive public display of US Military forces. There is no doubt that he wants to be seen at the centre of this big public event, just like all the worst fascist leaders in history. There is no doubt that this is a fascist mindset. His many enablers, collaborators and supporters are all complicit in this Fascism. If humanity has learned one thing from past Fascist leaders (see here for some examples) it is that they must be spotted and stopped at the earliest possible stage, before they cause massive harm. So, we applaud the ‘Taking of the Knee’ by US sports and entertainment stars, and everyone who is actively drawing attention to his Fascism at the earliest stage.
*Note : In April 2018 Amnesty International, the global human rights organization, awarded Colin Kaepernick its highest honour - the 2018 Ambassador of Conscience Award.
(f) Global Instabilities Created by Trump the ‘Moron’
32. Trump has exacerbated tensions across the world and introduced dangerous new instability with threats in many directions (North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, etc). His obvious and profound ignorance, his multiple misconceptions, his impulsiveness are ensuring that the sense of alarm and fear is rising with the passing of each month. Many commentators and observers across a wide political spectrum in the US have acknowledged that he is the worst President the USA has ever had.
33. Even many people who are part of Trump's ‘natural’ support in the Republican Party have spoken out against him. His first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (the former President of the Exxon Oil Corporation) was reported in August 2017 to have called Trump a ‘Moron’. Trump sacked Tillerson in March 2018 in a Tweet and this was how Tillerson found he was no longer US Secretary of State.
(g) Its Nuclear Nightmares All Over Again - Kim Jong-un is Threatened by Dim Dumb Don
34. In August 2017, in what we call the Dim Dumb Don v Kim Jong-un dispute, Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea if it continued to expand its nuclear weapons programme. Shortly afterwards the Republican Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee accused Trump of setting the US “on a path to World War III”. Subsequently, this Committee, for the first time in over 40 years, started to examine the US President’s authority to launch a nuclear attack. Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat, Connecticut) explained the reason for this : “We are concerned that the President is so unstable,
is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is so out of step with US national security interests”. That is a good assessment of Trump and they are right to be wary of his role in relation to nuclear weapons. He is so ignorant of all international diplomatic or political conventions that he has - again and again - openly promised to commit war crimes as a matter of policy.
35. In the meantime, Trump’s personality is taking the world back to the extreme tensions of the ‘Cold War’ era. When tension is high, the possibility of an error or a misreading of events increases. With Trump in office it is important to remember how previous periods of international nuclear tension involving the USA arose. Some of us recall that in 1961 the USA tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and failed. The next year the USA and Soviet Union confronted each other over US ballistic weapon deployments in Italy and Turkey (aimed at the Soviet Union). At the same time Cuba and the Soviets agreed they would deter the US from any future invasion attempts on Cuba by jointly setting up a ballistic missile launch facility in Cuba. Then, in September-October 1962, US spy planes discovered and photographed nine weapon sites in Cuba and also Soviet missiles on board a Soviet ship approaching Cuba. After a couple of weeks of stalemate, threats, and secret negotiations (and with the whole world holding its breath in a state of intense stress) the US and Russia both agreed to back away from this imminent all-out nuclear conflict. The whole global population had been staring at the imminent possibility of our own incineration and the end of civilisations across the world. It was the closest we have so far come to self-annihilation. As part of the 'climb-down' agreements the weapons in Cuba, Italy and Turkey owned by the USA and Russia were then removed.
36. This ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ was the closest the world has yet come to nuclear war. The Trump v North Korea dispute, though different in its character, may be heading towards a similar critical moment. However, since Kim Jong–un seems to be at least as quixotic and impulsive as Trump, its possible that critical mistakes and misjudgements might be made, leading to disaster.
Trump thinks he won the Twitter exchange with North Korea in January 2018 now known as the 'My red button is bigger than your red button' spat. That showed again his appalling ignorance of global politics and diplomacy ! This ignorance (on both sides) lies underneath Trump's announcement in March 2018 that he would meet Kim Jong-un soon. Trump seems to expect North Korea to give up its own weapons while the USA keeps its vast nuclear capabilities in South Korea. What the world needs is the complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsular (north and south). Turning to Iran, the risks in the Trump v Iran scenario are also very high. Trump has said repeatedly that he will scrap the world’s agreed and established means of reducing Iran’s nuclear capabilitiess, so its impossible to say what will happen next in this fraxious relationship. Certainly, the quixotic, impulsive and vindictive Trump should be kept well away from any military decisions, if we all want to stay safe. As we said above, in February 2018 he asked his military officials to start organising a massive public display of US Military forces. No doubt, he fantasises about himself being at the centre of this, just like all the worst fascist (and communist) leaders in history.
(h) Did Russia Help Trump Get Elected & Was Trump's Campaign Corrupt ?
37. In January 2017 the US intelligence services concluded that Russia had tried to sway the Presidential election in Trump's favour. Former US intelligence chiefs say Trump's denial that any Russian meddling helped him gain power at the 2016 election is now putting the US at risk. Trump caused uproar by saying he believed Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who told him there had been no Russian interference. The two leaders had briefly discussed the allegations at an Asia-Pacific summit. Trump also disparaged key figures in the US intelligence community who concluded in January that Russian meddling had taken place.
38. Former national intelligence chief James Clapper said he was alarmed by the president's comments that : "Every time he [Putin] sees me he says ‘I didn't do that’, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it," Mr Trump told reporters. "I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country." For a US President to be so at odds with the US Intelligence services would appear to be a dangerous place for a President to be. Congress has set up a Special Counsel, Robert Mueller to investigate this matter and these findings could be very interesting. There are already signs that this investigation is not going Trump’s way. It is potentially unearthing interesting things, not only about Russian meddling in the election but also about Trump's murky business dealings relating to Russia. A number of Trump associates, including some appointed by him to his administration have shady dealings with Russian Oligarchs, businesses and politicians. The links go deep. In the course of all this another factor has emerged which may have helped Trump's election win. Investigation by Channel 4 News in the UK led to them broadcasting, in March 2018, footage of an extremely revealing undercover interview which they staged with executives of a company called Cambridge Analytica (CA). CA claims to be the biggest and most significant Political Consultancy in the world and it conducted in detail Trump's 2016 political campaign for the Presidency. What CA did should shock anyone who thinks they live in a Democracy. You can watch this undercover interview in this Video :
39. The CA company was set up and run by Trump associates, Steve Bannon (Trump's former 'Strategist'), the billionaire Mercer family and others. CA purchased the details of at least 87 million FaceBook user accounts and then used this without the users' knowledge or consent. CA used this data in a detailed and sustained way to target Trump's manipulative campaign messages to those FaceBook users and to others linked to their accounts. CA implemented a massive campaign of micro-targeting through a social media blitzkrieg via FaceBook, Google, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc. A whistleblower, former CA employee Christopher Wylie, has stated that the data bought by CA was first used to psychologically profile people and then target them with specific pro-Trump material during the election campaign. Wylie has stated that CA or its parent company SCL "don't care whether what they do is legal" as long as they "get the job done". He also criticised the company for running campaigns in struggling democracies, which he called "an example of what modern-day colonialism looks like". "You have a wealthy company from a developed nation going into an economy or democracy that's still struggling to get its feet on the ground - and taking advantage of that to profit from that".
40. The revelation of this large scale manipulation by CA's Trump campaign of the US democratic process has created big trouble for both Facebook and for CA. That is a good thing. However, we await evidence that any serious legal and other data protection steps will now be taken urgently to protect the democratic process in the USA (or in any other country) from anything like this happening in future. We are not waiting for CA or FaceBook to be punished by US laws - that seems to be too much to hope for, as things stand. The Channel 4 evidence revealed that CA has done similar (or worse) things in many other political campaigns and countries - indeed CA's CEO bragged about them in the broadcast video. So, this story of electoral manipulation is likely to expand from the USA into other areas as time passes. In the meantime, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Congress's Investigation by Special Counsel Mueller is a 'Witchunt' against him and should stop. There are indications that he may sack Mueller or try to close down this investigation. However, a historical precedent shows this is very dangerous for Trump : President Richard Nixon, then under investigation for his Watergate scandal, fired the special prosecutor Archibald Cox in late 1973. Cox's firing produced a political and public relations disaster for Nixon and set in motion Impeachment proceedings which forced Nixon's resignation in disgrace less than a year later, in August 1974.
(i) Trump’s In Need of ‘Day Care’ – He’s Debasing the Nation
41. Bob Corker, Republican Senator for Tennessee tweeted : “It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Corker followed this with an Interview with the New York times and included a few more damning quotes : "I don't know why the president tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does."…"A lot of people think that there is some kind of 'good cop, bad cop' act underway, but that's just not true."…"I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain him."
42. In a series of television interviews, Corker again accused the president of lying. Nobody in the White House has so far accused Corker of 'defamation of character' and sued him. They would obviously have no basis for that because Corker is simply telling the truth - speaking 'Truth to Power'. The influential Senator Corker unleashed a blistering attack on Trump, calling him "utterly untruthful". In a series of television interviews, Corker accused the president of lying, adding that he debased the US and weakened its global standing. Corker added : "He is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation."…"I think the debasement of our nation is what he'll be remembered most for" he said. The Senator added that the president has "great difficulty with truth".
(j) Trump's Drone Killings
43. Over the past decade or so the USA’s Presidents have authorised the illegal killings (murders) of hundreds of people around the world using Drones and ‘automatic aircraft’. About one third of the people killed have been innocent children. Many more have been innocent adults, guilty of no crimes other than being somewhere near one of the USA’s ‘targets’. These murders are said to be ‘signed off‘ by the President in routine weekly meetings and carried out by Drone Operators working their shifts, sitting safely inside bases in the US or on board US warships or airplanes.
44. In the course of his election campaign Trump’s business activities and involvements with a model agency and the Miss Universe contest threw up a number of fundamental questions about his personality and behaviour. The stories of the trafficking of young models and drugs at
parties Trump hosted in the 1990s have surfaced in the US press and media. During his campaign he was also caught on tape bragging about his sexual assaults on women and at the time of writing (late 2017) he has so far been accused of sexual misconduct by 16 women. A small group of these women have asked the US Congress to investigate him. Trump epitomises (among many other ills) patriarchy and mysogyny in an extreme form. He is not so much a President as an ongoing serious political crisis, in charge of the most powerful country on earth.
(l) Trump’s Administration is Alone in its Extreme Denial of Climate Science
45. By November 2017 all of the original 195 parties to the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change had ratified the agreement and were fully signed up to support it – that is all except one – the USA. Trump had previously announced he would pull the USA out of the agreement and he did this in June 2017. The Paris Agreement is the world’s agreement and plan (although it is far too weak) to reduce the man-made greenhouse gas emissions which are warming our planet, raising sea levels and leading us into humanity’s biggest ever problem (more here).
46. Since then Trump's White House has also tried to downplay a major climate change report, which was compiled in 2017 by 13 of its own US federal agencies. This report contradicts assertions from Trump and several senior members of his administration. Trump and they are comprehensively science-averse and more generally fact-averse. Trump had previously made the ridiculous claim that the concept of global warming was invented by the Chinese in order to make American manufacturing less competitive. Running to nearly 500 pages, the 2017 report confirms the view of climate scientists globally that the current period is "now the warmest in the history of modern civilisation"…It is "extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause" adding that "there is no convincing alternative explanation". Trump and his collaborators are in complete denial about all of this.
47. He has already made it easier for US industry to pollute, he has appointed to key government positions people who represent the interests of the US fossil-fuel corporations, he has set about tearing up regulations which protect the environment, he is reinvigorating a declining coal industry and giving the fossil fuel corporations all kinds of subsidies. He is doing all this at a time when scientists globally, the UN and the other 194 countries in the Paris agreement are seeking ways to leave fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) as far as possible where they are – in the ground. Trump’s collaborators are not just dismissive of their own scientists but also, like Trump, they are irrational and fundamentally fact-averse. Like Trump they are psychopathic in their disregard of the fact that global warming is being caused by burning fossil fuels. They are simply closing their eyes and ears to the irreversible catastrophe all this entails for global humanity. This should surely be defined as a Crime Against Humanity and Trump and his collaborators should be tried by the International Criminal Court.
48. Fortunately, there are hundreds of Towns, Cities, States, Universities, Businesses, and other Organisations in the USA who ARE pushing ahead with Climate actions despite Trump. They are a growing and already powerful group who are all working together to make sure that their parts of the USA do fulfil their Climate Change commitments under the Paris Agreement. They went to the November 2017 meeting of all the other 194 countries who are signed up to the Paris Agreement. This large group from the USA registered their support for global action to tackle climate change - in no uncertain terms. They were welcomed by all the other states and parties present and they had a very positive impact. By comparison, Trump's administration sent only a small delegation of fossil fuel corporations to promote their own narrow business interests and they had only a trifling effect in the meeting.
(m) Trump Claims Jerusalem as Capital for Israel
49. In December 2017 Trump announced that the US would be moving its Israeli embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and declared that Jerusalem was now the new ‘capital’ of Israel. Trump’s arbitrary and reckless
announcement is contrary to all existing UN and other international attempts to manage and sort out the Israel-Palestine situation. Trump has simply thrown fuel on the smouldering flames of this extremely dangerous situation in the most dangerous region of the world.
50. Firstly, Trump’s intervention is a dangerous violation of international law. It can have no legal impact on the situation and is as good as void. Secondly, neither Trump nor the US have any agreed international rights or role in deciding on other nation’s capitals. Thirdly, Trump’s endorsement of Israel’s attempt at ‘grabbing’ all of Jerusalem as its capital contradicts long-standing US policy. Fourthly, US policy has long been that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state under the internationally promoted ‘two-state solution’. Lastly, not only does the US not have any right arbitrarily to intervene in a wholly one-sided way in favour of Israel in this situation, Trump’s intervention will achieve nothing.
51. Trump's need for attention has recklessly fanned the flames and could plunge this most dangerous region into violent reactions and result in many unnecessary and avoidable deaths. Shortly after Trump's announcement
57 predominantly Muslim nations called on the world to recognise "the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital". It also said that Trump's illegal move had signalled the USA's withdrawal from its role in the Middle East peace process and that the UN should take over this role. Clearly, the US would be unacceptable as a 'mediator' because it is biased in favour of Israel. Trump's reckless action is seen widely across the world as an attack on the rights of the Palestinian people. Later in December 2017 the UN voted to rescind Trump's (and anyone else's) claims to make Jerusalem the Capital of Israel.
Who Is Responsible for This Mess ?
52. However terrible Trump becomes we must keep things in perspective and never forget to ask the right questions, for example : Is the bad leader causing bad governance or vice-versa ? Which comes first, the
chicken or the egg ? In this case the bad leader (along with all his enablers and collaborators who are complicit in his wrongdoings) has risen to power through the USA's toxic political-business culture while the electoral rules, the constitution and laws have not stopped him. So the ultimate responsibility lies with the US system. All of the big concerns and risks now being faced are a consequence of the USA’s system deficiencies being exploited by a bad politician with the help of his enablers and collaborators. Remember : Only 27% of the eligible electorate voted for him, so it would be a mistake to blame the whole population for this dire situation. It is system defects which have allowed other problems in the past. The defects have accumulated and multiplied problems into the current day and these have allowed Trump into power. If the system is not properly fixed then other similar, or worse, problems could (certainly will) happen again in future.
Can Things in the USA Ever Be Better ?
53. Trump has brought the USA’s own deepest structural nightmares and darkest systemic demons up into the daylight. These are self-created by the USA and it must now face and overcome these as best it can. If it fails to move onto a path of real justice and democracy, then the consequences for the US and the whole world could be very dark indeed. This requires a constitutional showdown in which the interests of the great mass of citizens win decisively over the interests of the elites. Without that change Trump now and other bad leaders in future will continue to lawlessly exploit the country with impunity.
54. In a more perfect USA, the country would have a constitution, electoral system and laws that would spot and exclude people like Trump (and his many enablers and collaborators) very early, and prevent them from ever having any role in public life whatsoever. There cannot be any doubt that there are plenty of very good people across the USA who are far more worthy than Trump to lead their country towards a more just and truly democratic future. The return of good governance in the USA is possible, although at present this may seem impossibly difficult – but that is what bad leaders and bad governments want you to think.
55. Bad leaders and bad governance are two sides of the same coin. It should be clearer now than ever before, that all global institutions and all states need constitutions and laws that will prevent power ever finding its way into the hands of bad leaders. However, the whole world is unfortunately still a long way from that situation, which is one reason why many of the big global concerns have been so enduring.