I have become stymied trying to write about the upside down weirdness in Trumptopia. It feels like trying to wash your car in the midst of a mud slide. Fearing I could freeze up altogether, I’ll say something about the Iran Nuclear Deal, North Korea’s Nukes, and the investigation of Michael Cohen.
Iran Nuclear Deal: By May 12 Trump must either renew the Iran Nuclear deal or drop out of it. If he doesn’t renew everything seems up for grabs as Iran as well as Russia and the European nations who signed the agreement say they have no interest in renegotiating it. Perhaps the foremost reason Macron of France and Merkel of Germany visited Washington this week was to push Trump not to pull out of the agreement.
One point made: Dropping out of a previous agreement would not be a good way to preface a meeting with Kim Jong Un to talk about a future agreement with him. A couple of wild cards in this game are the recent appointments of long standing hawks, Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State, and John Bolton as National Security Adviser, both of whom have been been staunch critics of the deal. Lots of room for speculation.
NO KO’s Nukes: It feels like we have moved from a nightmare scenario of potentially unimaginable destruction to a dream of peace on the Korean peninsula. It’s a relief. I just want to point out that we haven’t won anything yet and North Korea has. It can be argued that Trump’s constant threats, ramped up sanctions and increased pressure on China played a major role in opening up the possibility of negotiations.
But I would argue even more important Kim Jong Un has gotten what he wanted, a nuclear weapons program that works. Despite Trump’s huffing and puffing, Jong Un kept testing and developing and finds it useful to now be friendly.
Now he can afford to be conciliatory on such things as destroying a missile test site. He’s happy to just hold the cards he’s drawn. Other presidents could have met with him or his forbears, but they thought such a meeting would raise the prestige of a tin pot dictator. Well, it has, hasn’t it?
I see Jong Un being all sorts of nice, smiles and warm handshakes with the president of South Korea and seeming open to Trump’s demands, but later drawing the process out, pushing things down the road, a series of steps, but not giving away the nuclear weapons he has. Those weapons are what have pushed us to treat him as an equal in these negotiations, and he’s not about to give them up. It is his ticket to be a major player and a key to his survival.
Trump acts like he has brought a reluctant Jong-Un to the negotiating table. Actually, Kim has just been waiting for an invitation.
Investigation of Michael Cohen: While the Mueller investigation may produce either indictable offenses or reasons for presidential impeachment, the separate investigation of Michael Cohen, Trump’s occasional lawyer and frequent “fixer” may prove a sooner threat.
Just the fact the FBI got a hard-to-get warrant to raid his home, office and hotel room to gather information suggests Cohen is indictable for more than one offense. So, the question is how might Trump be implicated. The president made things tougher for himself and Cohen by claiming on Fox and Friends yesterday morning, in what amounted to a half an hour wandering rant, that Cohen has done only a “tiny” amount of work for him as a lawyer per se.
The pile of crap Trump stepped in with those comments is that most dealings he has had with Cohen that are recorded can not be protected by lawyer client privilege because Trump himself has indicated most of the work Cohen has done for him was not lawyerly.
So the prosecution can look at and use most of it. This seems an impossible situation for Cohen, who could face many years in jail unless he “flips”, i.e. rats on the president. OR, Trump pardons him. Cohen has a reputation for loyalty to Trump, but he also has a wife and family he might want to continue living with. He must be pondering whether he can count on a pardon.
I fantasize sometime this summer president Trump may be in the middle of a chummy meeting with Kim Jong Un talking about denuclearization, while back home there is a lot more talk about impeachment and/or the possibility of an indictment or two.
Hard to believe, but in Trumptopia nothing should be surprising.