No, I don’t mean the end of the world, the end of American democracy or the other dire predictions of many who fear Trump. I seriously believe that we may be seeing the Trump Presidency moving into it’s final stage. Moreover, there’s a good chance he’ll be done in by those who have tolerated him up until now: the Republican establishment in Washington.
Since I posted my last post on Trump, critical stories have broke. Most dramatic, but perhaps least important, is the James Comey book that rips Trump and paints him to be a rather pathetic fool. More important is the raid on the personal attorney of the President, Michael Cohen. This could be a game changer.
Cohen is Trump’s “fixer.” The guy who comes in and makes problems go away – such as by paying Stormy Daniels $130,000, then perhaps having her threatened (though he denies being involved in that). More ominously for Trump, Cohen’s services reach into Trump’s business world, a world that many believe often operates on the wrong side of the law. At the very least, Cohen could be involved with dubious deals and pay outs, all of which might put Trump Enterprises at legal risk.
Moreover, this is not an investigation that Trump can stop by firing Rosenstein or Mueller. Insiders in the White House acknowledge that the Cohen case may be far more dangerous to the President than anything Mueller is looking at (though the Mueller case was instrumental in bringing Cohen’s misdeeds to light).
Reports from sources close to the White House claim that the President is “increasingly unhinged,” angry, fuming, “ready to blow.” He’s feeling persecuted, mistreated, and threatened in ways he is not used to. As a wealthy private citizen he could use his money and attorneys to cover up, threaten, manipulate and control. As President everything he touches is under public scrutiny, and his usual tools (threatening law suits, etc.) are unavailable. By assuming this job, he has endangered himself and his business in ways he couldn’t have imagined.
He tweeted that raiding Cohen’s house is an “attack on America” even though legal rules were followed to the letter. He realizes that all of this is out of his control, and instead of being the “boss” like he imagined, he’s more liked a caged animal. To be sure, it’s a gilded cage, but all the tweets and Presidential perks won’t stop the relentless investigation into Trump, Cohen, and their business dealings.
So what’s the end game? I suspect Republicans in DC are in meetings, trying to figure out the best way to get them out of this mess. The end of Trump’s Presidency would be a disaster for Trump, but not for the GOP. Many believe a President Pence could be in position to win in 2020, and perhaps turn around the poisonous atmosphere Republicans face in the mid terms. They’ve tolerated Trump, few actually support him.
If Trump starts looking less like a successful businessman and more like a figurehead atop a operation run by his lawyer, Donald Jr. and even Ivanka, then charges of corruption and bribery in his businesses could destroy whatever reputation Donald has as a clever deal maker. That could be an opening for the GOP to themselves cut a deal – perhaps Pence will pardon him if he agrees to resign, or maybe Trump will himself decide that the job is not worth it.
Of course, investigations take time, and Trump could resist all efforts to push him aside. Yet somehow the revelations of the past week feel different – the legal problems facing the President have morphed from being a nuisance to being a real threat to his Presidency. We’re entering a new and perhaps final stage of this administration.