It Is Getting Hot in Washington
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Washington has virtually missed Spring in its entirety this year, but the political temperature is rapidly heating up. From every vantage point imaginable, the crises surrounding the Trump Administration are now moving into high gear; nevertheless, President Trump confidently continues to believe that he can ride out any political storm that exists or may be forthcoming.
Respect for the law and the rule of law have never been as low as they seem to be in the Trump White House. As he has done throughout his life in the real estate business, Trump operates under the assumption that law and its defenders need to be confronted. He can bully all his critics into submission. While Trump may win some rounds in his forthcoming skirmishes with numerous legal authorities, one senses now more than ever that the American justice system ultimately will not tolerate or accept his conduct.
President Trump is lawyering up and has brought in the heavy gun– legal spokesman and tormentor Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor of New York City may well believe he can still bluff and push his way through any legal confrontation, but Robert Mueller will ultimately dismiss these tactics and challenges. His first entry into the fray was a total disaster on Wednesday night, when even Sean Hannity was unable to feed Rudy enough lines to bail him out. Giuliani still possesses his old thuggish style but he may be losing his quickness.
The President, meanwhile, may well be learning about the powers of the presidency; but he really has no idea about how effective and patient prosecutors conduct their business. Trump may still have 35% of the American public believing in him, but eventually the truth will force them to accept the demise of the Donald Trump.
Whether Trump agrees or not to appear before the Mueller Grand Jury is not relevant. What is clear is that Mueller has received the green light to proceed to subpoena the President when he refuses to testify voluntarily. Mueller and the Justice Department must now be convinced that despite Trump’s refusal to testify or honor a subpoena, the President’s challenge of the investigation will win their case in the Supreme Court.
Trump may also be deluding himself that Congress will never move to impeach him. He may even believe that the GOP will retain control of the House in November. While at this point a Senate conviction would be most unlikely; however, once a full Mueller investigation produces its record—which may well take another year—the lay of the land will be much clearer.
International escapades and crises will provide a public distraction, but many people forget that Nixon had a war in Vietnam to fight as he was pushing back against Watergate. Presidential pardons remain one of the few tools at a president’s disposal which Trump would undoubtedly use with abandon should it help his case. In addition, it is not totally clear yet whether the Cohen document cache produced additional charges and investigations against the President in New York State.
This is not to suggest that any of the steps over the next few months or year will be quick or easy, because “the wheels of justice turn slowly….”. At the end, however, it is beginning to feel as if no one should doubt the results. The President continues to be his own worst enemy, listens only to his own voice, takes counsel from no one, and will eventually get his comeuppance.