Donald Trump has grabbed Lady Liberty in ways she should never be grabbed, seeming to figure he can do whatever he wants and say whatever he wants because he is now the biggest celebrity of all.
But, as it presently appears even with Tuesday’s developments, Trump seems to stand a good chance of getting away with it, just as he did with women in earlier days while bragging, “When you’re a star… You can do anything.”
If you think Trump’s days in office are numbered, ask one of the women he grabbed how she thinks he became president in the first place.
Back in the time of the Access Hollywood tape, Trump’s behavior did not lead to him being arrested for sexual assault.
And despite his present behavior, he is a long way from being impeached for assault on democratic principles.
Who are we going to count on for a moral stand—a Congress that is happily looking to leave millions of struggling people without health-care insurance while giving a big break to the rich?
Trump likely did ask then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation of retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn.
Trump did subsequently fire Comey.
Trump also threatened Comey, saying he had better hope there were no tapes of their conversations.
Trump also called Comey “a showboat” and “a grandstander,” which Comey has never been, though that is a pretty good description of Trump’s behavior with the two Russian diplomats who visited the Oval Office the day after Comey’s firing last week.
Trump reportedly played the world leader in the know by giving the Russians top-secret intelligence further classified as “ORCON,” which stands for Originator Control. That means the information was provided on the condition that it not be disseminated without the explicit consent of the provider, in this case a foreign government, said to be Israel.
“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining… to terrorism and airline flight safety,” Trump tweeted. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster insisted that Trump had not revealed any sources and methods used to gather this intelligence, but McMaster surely knows that the information itself would point to how it was obtained.
McMaster, who as a younger man showed true courage speaking truth to power, insisted Trump’s actions had been “wholly appropriate” and tried to blame the press for jeopardizing national security by reporting it.
That no doubt sounds reasonable enough to most people, few of whom understand that violating ORCON is rightly seen as a cardinal sin in the intelligence community, for it can lead to sources being shut down and lives lost.
And while many people are deeply troubled by reports that Comey’s contemporaneous notes of an Oval Office meeting quote the president saying, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” what can save Trump is that he is quoted as adding that Flynn is “a good guy.”
Trump can just say he was being loyal to a dedicated patriot who had long served his country. People who were willing to overlook Trump’s talk of grabbing women would very likely do the same with an attempt to interfere with Liberty’s cousin, Justice.
As for the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, one senior law-enforcement official predicts investigators will have little difficulty “flipping” Flynn and Paul Manafort and Carter Page.
“These are not Watergate burglars,” the official said. “There’s no G. Gordon Liddy who says, ‘I can do time standing on my head’ and puts a cigarette butt out in his hand to prove he can take the pain.”
But even if they all cooperate with the government, Trump could still skate.
“What you have is a great case against Putin, and he’s not taking any collars,” the official said. “The question then ends with Trump: ‘Is he a criminal for the Russians or is he a stooge for the Russians?’”
The official suggests that we may be witnessing The Art of the Deal as it is really practiced by Trump.
“When you have never worked in civil service and you have never worked in government, and all you have done your entire life is cheat bankers and businessmen out of their money…” the official posits.
The official suggests, “He thinks it’s just one more of these things where he’s supposed to f--k everybody and then get out with the profits. Stuff that would seem wrong to guys like you or me are simply the deal.”
The official imagines Trump saying, “I don’t understand why you don’t understand… That’s the deal and everybody gets f---ed except me.”
That Trump was elected as the candidate of the party whose symbol is an elephant turns ironic when you consider the big stone elephants outside the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. Those elephants were sculpted at great expense by Michael MacLeod, who was one of 253 contractors stiffed on the project while Trump pocketed millions. MacLeod—not a close relative, but perhaps a distant clansman to Trump’s mother, Mary MacLeod Trump—ended up shutting a studio that employed 40 people. Others forced to take huge losses while Trump got richer included the builder of the casino’s distinctive domes.
But nothing Trump did, no matter how reprehensible, was found to be criminal. And he sought to excuse it all by saying it was just part of making a deal.
He is saying much the same now that he has gone from anointing himself “The King of Debt” to taking the oath as the president of the United States.
He speaks of loyalty, but he really means fealty. One surprise is how many of his vassals allow themselves to be demeaned by him.
“This is an assembly line ,” the official said. “It’s like the Plato’s Retreat of government.”
The lone person who has stood up to Trump is Comey, who has as long a record for telling the truth at his own expense as our president does for telling lies at the expense of others.
Comey is said to have taken the precaution of taking contemporaneous notes of his encounters with Trump. Such notes are routinely admitted as evidence by federal courts.
Back in 2004, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller made similar jottings after he and then Acting Attorney General James Comey visited an ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft in his hospital room. The two had rushed there on hearing that White House counsel Alberto Gonzales was pushing Ashcroft to sign papers renewing authorization for warrantless wiretapping.
“Saw AG,” Mueller wrote. “John Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed.”
That was enough for the Senate Judiciary Committee to discount Gonzales’ subsequent testimony that a “lucid” Ashcroft “did most of the talking” during the visit. The White House had pressed ahead with the surveillance program and Comey had threatened to quit, relenting after meeting President Bush in the Oval Office and receiving several concessions.
Now Comey is the one who kept notes. Trump fired him before he even spoke of resigning, but that only made him a bigger factor in how things are going for our new president.
Not that Trump has ever seemed greatly bothered at being proven a liar. His supporters seem perpetually willing to forgive much worse.
That includes the women he grabbed. Remember one thing he said on the infamous tape, words that apply to us all now that he has gone from grabbing women to grabbing Lady Liberty herself.
“They let you do it.”