Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Trump's Next Constitutional Crisis?

Buried amid all the sordid revelations of backbiting, incompetency and corruption in “Team of Vipers,” Cliff Sims’ first person account of life within the Trump campaign and White House, is the nation’s next and potentially most catastrophic constitutional crisis. 

According to Sims, former director of White House message strategy and a special assistant to the president, as returns were coming in election night 2016 Trump was ready to declare via Twitter the results a fraud if he did not win. 

We were saved from this crisis, Sims relates, by Steve Bannon, of all people, and the failure of Hillary Clinton to win sufficient votes in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. Had he lost, Trump would have gone on a Twitter tear, but no amount of tweeting or fulminating in public or in the courts would have ensconced him in the Oval Office.

But with 2020 looming and his polling numbers down, Trump is now in a position to do real damage to the republic should he lose reelection. He would continue, after all, to be president for more than two months until January 20, 2021, a lame duck in name but not in power to respond to emergencies. 

It is not a far reach to think Trump would invoke executive powers to declare a rigged election created a national emergency. Consider the border wall contretemps a potential test case before the Supreme Court of his authority to enact executive rule. 

The orderly transition of authority has been a hallmark of the United States since George Washington voluntarily stepped down after two terms of office. The Trump presidency, however, has been anything but an affirmation of political norms. 

To be fair, almost all administrations are populated by competing personalities and interests. Abraham Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” as portrayed by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, united in their combat to defeat the South. Trump’s cadre of conspirators, on the other hand, seem particularly vile, ineffectual, dumb, vengeful and venal. 

Sims is but the latest to reveal the innerds of a dysfunctional organism. With each expose the question of how long Republicans can abide a Trump presidency becomes more focused.

If I am right about Trump’s post-election-emergency-powers-executive-action it would be up to Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to remove him from office, that is, if they are not first removed from their positions by Trump. Then it would be up to the military to enforce the Constitution. Maybe Putin would send private Russian military contractors to protect Trump as has been rumored he has done recently in Venezuela to bolster security for embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Sounds like a geopolitical thriller novel, doesn’t it?