When people behave as if they have something to hide, it is often because they do. For me, this is a basic law of human behaviour.
That’s why President Donald Trump’s baffling, outrageous, unfathomable and just plain bizarre behaviour last week strengthened my already strong suspicions that there is something that Trump knows about the investigations into his campaign’s contacts with Russia that he doesn’t want us to know.
That is the only way that I can make sense of what happened: These are either the machinations of concealment, expressions of a burgeoning insanity, or both.
The details of the most recent episode in the Trump madness are now well known and yet every new detail that helps add texture to the story also renders it more horrifyingly egregious.
According to news reports (some of which the White House disputes, I hasten to add), after former FBI Director James Comey refused to pledge loyalty to Trump, publicly rebuked some of Trump’s lies, and sought to intensify the bureau’s investigation into the Russia connections, Trump unceremoniously dismissed him. He then let his surrogates go out — or possibly sent them out — to lie about why Comey was fired. And then Trump tweeted a threat at Comey that seemed like an attempt to bully him into remaining quiet.
Who does that?
Legal and ethical questions abound about the impropriety and even legality of attempting to strong-arm, and then dismissing and threatening, the law enforcement official leading an investigation into your circle of associates.
Many of those questions rise not from clandestine sources, but rather from Trump himself. He is talking and tweeting himself into legal jeopardy. He can’t seem to help himself. Something in the man is broken.
He is insecure, paranoid and brittle, jostling between egomania and narcissism, intoxicated with a power beyond his meagre comprehension and indulging in it beyond the point of abuse.
Some people are ebulliently optimistic that the abomination is coming undone and may soon be at an end.
But I would caution that this is a moment pregnant with calamity.
The man we see unravelling before our eyes still retains the power of the presidency until such time as he doesn’t, and that time of termination is by no means assured.
Trump is now a wounded animal, desperate and dangerous. Survival is an overwhelming, instinctual impulse, and one should put nothing beyond a being who is bent on ensuring it.
Banking on an easy impeachment or resignation or a shiny set of handcuffs is incredibly tempting for those drained and depressed by Trump’s unabated absurdities, perversions of truth and facts and assaults on custom, normalcy and civility.
But banking on this is, at this point, premature. I share the yearning. A case for removal can most definitely be made and has merit. But there remain untold steps between plausibility and probability. Expectations must be managed so that hopes aren’t dashed if the mark isn’t immediately met.
There are incredibly encouraging signs that the Comey debacle has crystallised sentiment about the severity of Trump’s abnormality and the urgent need for an independent investigation into the Russia connection.
Last week after Comey was fired, 20 attorneys general sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging it to immediately appoint an independent special counsel to oversee the investigation. The letter read in part:
“As the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, we view the President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey in the middle of his investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election as a violation of the public trust. As prosecutors committed to the rule of law, we urge you to consider the damage to our democratic system of any attempts by the administration to derail and delegitimise the investigation.
Furthermore, according to a poll released Thursday: “A majority of Americans — 54 percent — think that President Donald Trump’s abrupt dismissal of FBI Director James Comey was not appropriate, while 46 percent think that Comey was fired due to the Russia investigation, according to results from a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll.”
This followed a Quinnipiac Poll taken before the Comey firing that found: “American voters, who gave President Donald Trump a slight approval bump after the missile strike in Syria, today give him a near-record negative 36-58 percent job approval rating.”
The report continued: “Critical are big losses among white voters with no college degree, white men and independent voters.”
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/11 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests.
2/11 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
3/11 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
4/11 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
5/11 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/11 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
7/11 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
8/11 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
9/11 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
10/11 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
11/11 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
The army of righteous truth-seekers is gathering; the hordes of sycophants are faltering. The challenge now is to keep the media’s microscope trained on this issue and to keep applying sufficient pressure to elected officials.
We may have reached an inflection point at which even partisans grow weary of the barrage of lies and the indefensible behaviour, and Republican representatives finally realize that they are constitutional officers who must defend the country even if it damages their party.
Something is happening. It’s in the air. It is an awakening, it is an adjustment, it is a growing up.
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