Now that Trump thinks he can act without legal restraints, will he work to undermine the the upcoming election?
Utah is so scared of feeling the heat of Trump’s wrath that its legislature is considering a brown-nose “we support Trump” resolution, with a large proportion of its lawmakers trying to figure out a constitutional way to recall Romney, who at 72 is the state’s junior senator and the only Republican to vote against Trump in the impeachment trial.
The good news for Romney (and those of us who like people who can do the right thing) is that Utah’s governor is against the recall, basically saying, “He heard the evidence and he voted his conscience.”
Romney and Utah’s Republican governor Gary Herbert are both good news in an era when good news on the political beat is scarce.
It’s probably all for naught, however.
In a comment to a link I posted on Facebook to an article on this, a commenter noted, “Utah doesn’t have to recall him. Moscow Mitch’s private senate will probably expel, and then arrest him for ‘disloyalty.'”
While that notion would have seemed laughable five-and-a-half years ago (when Obama’s party held a majority in both houses of congress), and highly unlikely even a couple of months ago, now it lies entirely within the realm of possibility.
Face it, this is no longer the United States in which any of us who are old enough to vote grew up. In the last three years, we have moved into what are uncharted waters for the US (even though other countries have been here before and eventually recovered), and are rapidly on the road to becoming the type of nation that our fathers and grandfathers fought to defeat seventy-some-odd years ago.
Utah has every reason to fear retaliation from Trump, who seems to be poised to take a scorched-earth policy against anyone who supported his impeachment.
At a White House meeting that vaguely resembled a press conference (even Trump said he didn’t know what it was), held the day after the Senate voted to acquit him on both impeachment charges, Trump acted as expected by railing against his usual list of suspects — Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer, and Democrats in general — categorizing them as being motivated by nothing but “evil.”
Trump singled-out Romney in his diatribe, saying without a hint irony that he doesn’t “like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” as well as Doug Jones, the Democratic freshman senator from Alabama (where Trump has an approval rating of 75%, his highest in the nation) for his party line vote to convict.
Trump already had reason to dislike Jones, who holds the seat Jeff Sessions vacated in order to spend 18 months as Trump’s attorney general. With Jones facing re-election this year, possibly facing Sessions who is running in the primaries for the chance to reclaim his seat, his vote against the locally popular Trump probably cost him his career in Alabama politics.
At the State of the Union Address, held on the Tuesday before the tirade against Romney, Jones, and the entire Democratic Party, and sandwiched between the end of the impeachment trial and the senate vote that would end the proceedings, Trump used tactics reminiscent of the McCarthy era and painted all Democrat congresspeople (and effectively, all voters who support them) as “socialist” enemies of the state.
On Friday, Trump carried this a step further, with a Nixonesque “Friday night massacre” in which he fired two impeachment witnesses: Gordon Sondland, a co-conspirator who had become the administration’s ambassador to the EU in a tit-for-tat that included a $1 million donation to the president’s inauguration, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a member of the National Security Council, whom Trump had escorted off the White House premises.
After the firing, Trump tweeted about Vindman, who is a decorated war hero and by all accounts a patriot: “He was very insubordinate, reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly, and was given a horrendous report by his superior.”
In addition, Trump fired Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, Alexander’s twin brother who worked as a senior lawyer and ethics official and was also part of the National Security Council. No reason was given for Yevgeny’s firing, but it appears to be simply in retaliation against his brother.
What this means, of course, is that Schiff was right when he warned that an acquittal would lead to a president more out of control and more dangerous than ever. In Trump’s mind, he is no longer a president bound to constitutional restrictions, but an all-powerful and triumphant king.
With Trump untethered, our only hope of returning our country to some semblance of normalcy is the ballot box, which at this point looks like a long shot…not only because Trump’s mesmerized base might be difficult to beat (especially with a Democratic line-up of hopefuls that is so-far underwhelming and not very inspiring), but because we can’t even trust that fair elections are possible anymore.
This week’s debacle in Iowa, although happening wholly within the Democratic Party organization and likely due to a string of unfortunate circumstances, is a bad omen than serves to remind us at the very start of this election season that free and fair elections are under attack, from within and without.
In 2016, we evidently had Russia interfering with our elections on Trump’s behalf, and whether or not the meddling was successful, it certainly didn’t hurt his chances. This time we’ll be facing the Russians again, along with Trump himself, who as president/king now has the means to tamper with the process (and who has clearly revealed that he’ll show no restraint in order to get what he wants).
Add to that the North Koreans, who have shown themselves to be adept at cracker/hacking, and who would like very much to keep Trump in the White House, because they’ve never had a US president they could play as a patsy before, and they’d doubtlessly like for that to continue.
The only nation state hackers who would push for Trump’s defeat would be China, but they would be unlikely to interfere even if their hands weren’t otherwise occupied with the coronavirus outbreak, and Iran, a country that doesn’t like Trump but probably thinks we deserve him.
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