Given increasingly serious accusations against President Trump, Americans have been mystified by the reluctance of the Democrats now in control of the House, to initiate impeachment proceedings: after all, in 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republicans for lying about an affair with a White House intern!
Now, suddenly, the news is all about impeachment, as the head of the House Judiciary Committee issues a list of demands for documents from almost everyone who has ever had anything to do with the president, for the purpose of establishing not only collusion with Russia, which is the purview of the soon to be completed Mueller Investigation, but the the legality of the president’s personal and business finances.
It’s never been clear why Trump’s desire to build a tower in Moscow is considered reprehensible, Trump having built towers in many countries whose governments we do not like. As for his reported offer to gift a penthouse apartment to President Vladimir Putin (in order to, as Don Jr recently elucidated, raise the value of the other apartments), well, ever since the three wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus with the expectation that he would some day bring spirituality to the world, rulers have been exchanging gifts. The African President Bokassa gave diamonds to French President Valerie Giscard d’Estaing back in the seventies — who claimed he gave them to charity.
One day after the Democrats began to take actions that could lead to impeachment, it is revealed that a majority of Americans believe that the President carried out illegal acts not only before he was elected, but from the very White House, forcing the media to play and repay Richard Nixon declaring “I am not a crook”. This is a result of the public testimony, last week, of his ten year long lawyer, Michael Cohen, whose main job was actually ‘making problems go away’. Familiarly known as Trumps ‘fixer’, Michael Cohen testified on television to Congress that Donald Trump “is not only a racist, but a con man and a cheat”. He cited the routine inflating of property values when requesting bank loans, followed by their lowering at tax time. As Cohen pointed out, this is typical gangster, or ‘mob behavior’ as is “speaking in code”. “He wouldn’t tell me to lie, he would just say things like ‘There wasn’t any collusion’ and I’d know I was expected to say the same thing.”
Implicitly, Cohen’s testimony casts a spotlight on an elementary failing of Washington’s vaunted ‘rule of law’ —- which allowed the man now referred to as the worst president in US history to be elected without revealing his tax returns, a tradition, but not, for some strange reason until now, a law.
For Democratic legislators, however, it was Michael Cohen’s warning of a backlash by Trump’s well—armed base if he were to lose the 2020 election, that moved them to take the first steps toward impeachment. They are demanding White House documents that will allow them to convince his broader support that they have no choice: it’s dictated by the Constitution that shaped the country that Trump wants to take back in order to Make America Great Again.
Currently, partly due to the failure of ‘democracy’ to become ‘socialist’ increasing numbers of leaders become mobsters or serve as foils for illegitimate governance. Such is the case in Algeria, where an eighty two year old who has been incapacitated by a stroke ‘insists’ on running for a ‘last’ five year term. Who can doubt that President Boutiflika is a shell for those who run the country anonymously?
As for President Putin, he is routinely referred to as a mobster, (the worst epithet that one can use) reigning over a ‘Krooked Kremlin’ via the FSB, Russia’s equivalent of our CIA and FBI rolled into one. Yet I’m not sure the FSB keeps tabs on the Russian government the way the FBI (one of seventeen intelligence services!) makes sure that actions taken by cabinet secretaries — or the President — are ‘constitutional’.
Short-circuiting the Supreme Court, if the FBI says something is not constitutional, even the President is expected to reverse course. The biggest crime of Don Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort is to have failed to inform the FBI that they had been invited to meet with a Russian lawyer in June of 2016 to hear ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton: the FBI would have ordered them not to take the meeting, since it could ‘compromise’ them leading to a possible ‘threat to American democracy’. (Hardly a day goes by that the media fails to use the English translation of the Russian word ‘compromat’, suggesting that one or another of America’s many enemies may have information on an American political figure whose nature would force him to carry out their wishes.)
The power of the American intelligence branches is similar to that usually found in police states. As for being a gangster state — as are, to a greater or lesser extent, many other countries — this goes back a long way. Tribes and early polities were ruled by the strongest male (at times and in some places, by a strong female), as demonstrated by physical valor or intellectual superiority. When, after thousands of years, monarchy (rule by one), gave way to democracy (oversight by the many), elected rulers continued to have more of everything than even their closest supporters. Over time, America’s ‘checks and balances’ weakened under the second law of thermodynamics, and democracy turned into oligarchy and gangsterism. As America’s failure to impeach Donald Trump long ago illustrates, a ‘democratic’ government is no match for a mob: only an authoritarian leader can be, and that’s better than ground zero.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years. She can be reached at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.