Will a wagging dog bite Trump?

NOTE: This is an updated version of a piece that was published here Saturday March 4, 2017

By R.B. Scott

                         Pat  Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

                         Pat  Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Here’s the latest misdirection gambit from President Donald Trump in his attempt to obfuscate his team’s possibly treasonous wrongdoings throughout the 2016 campaign and the transition period that followed. It may also be further evidence that #45 is certifiably nuts.

Sunday, March 5, 2017
New York Times

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump, a day after leveling a widely disputed allegation that President Barack Obama had ordered the tapping of his phones, on Sunday demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election.

From the outset of his candidacy 20 months ago, I took seriously Donald Trump, the intermittent tenant of the Oval Office. I took him very seriously.

My career as a writer paralleled the dissolute Donald’s grotesque and garish ascendancy as a real estate developer in Manhattan. I witnessed his Houdini-like escapes from celebrated marital betrayals, predatory womanizing, spectacular business failures, not to mention accusations of fraud, tax evasion and economic bullying. 

From the get-go he was a human resources officer’s worst nightmare.  He survived only because he was always the boss, as he is now, sort of, until Congress is persuaded to do its job and finally gets to the bottom ofthe bonfire he stokes with every tweet he makes. 

Just today (Saturday 3/5/17), from palace Mar-a-Lago he tweeted that President Barack Obama had bugged his offices throughout the 2016 campaign. He offered no evidence to back-up the claim. Senior intelligence officers said such wiretaps were highly unlikley. One told the Washington Post: “If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power.”

While this latest Tweet barrage could trap him in a classic Catch 22, it likely was a calculated attempt to divert attention away from revelations that he and many members of his team had regular and perhaps treasonous contact with Russian operatives throughout campaign and post-election transition as well.

Long ago I studied how propagandist Edward Bernays persuaded modern women that it was their inherent birthright and obligation to smoke cigarettes.  In the ‘70s I was astonished that sensible people, athletes included,  bought into Philip Morris’ killer aspirational positioning line for its ultra-thin Virginia Slims brand: “You’ve come a long way baby.”

Compared those masters of deceit, Trump is an illusionist par excellence. Unfortunately, he has allies and abettors in too many Republicans like Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.  Both would rather ignore their angry constituents than hold the Trump team accountable for its actions.

Where does that leave us?  Confused, worried, petrified and vulnerable to being misled by every wagging dog scenario that comes down the pike. Consider Trump’s short but very effective recent history of obfuscation, not including the one he laid out there Sunday morning. 

Mitt Romney was twice summoned to the Trump HQ to be vetted for Secretary of State.  Mitt would have been a solid choice. Democrats who assailed Romney personally and mocked his claim that Russia was America’s “Number 1 geopolitical foe” would have been relieved had he been appointed.  Steve Bannon, the chief’s political strategist would have none of it.

However, those two deft maneuvers simultaneously brought to heel the groveling Rudy Giuliani, blubbery New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and barking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Plus, and very importantly,  it publicly vanquished Romney who’d loudly proclaimed correctly that Trump was a “fraud and phony” who “has neither the temperament nor judgment” to lead the nation.  

It also cleared the way for the nomination of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson. Never mind his close ties to Russia and Putin, the pertinent question is whether Tillerson will tolerate being subordinate to chief strategist Bannon, who nixed Tillerson’s choice of Elliott Abrams, a respected national security advisor for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as his deputy secretary. 

Then without notification, Trump announced that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, would handle relations with Israel,  and that former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, a potential presidential contender in 2020 (imagine all the intriguing scenarios) and well-traveled diplomat and Asia expert, was under consideration to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Kremlin.  What’s a Secretary of State to do when all the important assignments are delegated to others?

The biggest surprise was when Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy, Federal District Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, expressed dismay that the president had assailed a Federal judge in Seattle, a Republican appointee, and the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gorsuch’s criticisms could be just the warning shot across the bow of the U.S. ship of state that prevents the “phony, a fraud” in the White House from “playing the American public for suckers,” and making the “the world less safe,” as Romney warned nearly a year ago.

Or, will halting investigations by the FBI finally deliver clear evidence of long-standing, compromising connections between Trump’s team and the Kremlin?  If it does, what then?

Could it be that ever since Donald captured the party’s nomination in June, the GOP aided by FBI Director James Comey have been surreptitiously aiding and abetting this wagging dog outcome: Michael Pence as the 46th president of The United States of America?