How will Trump leave office?

12 January 2021

12:52 PM

12 January 2021

12:52 PM

Send in the troops. The nation must restore order. The military stands ready.

Aficionados of the New York Times may recall that these sentences appeared as the headline of Tom Cotton’s June 5 op-ed that led to the ouster of the paper’s editorial page editor James Bennet. Bennet resurfaced as a guest author of Politico‘s Playbook newsletter last week. But how the times have changed!

These days it is Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser who has embraced the Cotton Doctrine. She is demanding that the city be placed into what amounts a state of martial law. Ten-thousand National Guard troops, up to 15,000, are slated to guard the city against the motley crew of right-wing extremists — 16 groups have applied for federal permits to protest — who are pledging to vindicate the honor of Donald Trump. Everything from active shooters to snipers to drones is being cited as a possible source of danger at Joe Biden’s inaugural on January 20. The FBI is warning that there may be armed protest at all 50 state capitals. Meanwhile, Trump, who could help to disperse the danger, remains silent.

But at least one Trump is not. Melania issued a lengthy first-person statement today. She regretted the violence. She also declared stated that the ‘passion’ of Trump’s followers is ‘inspiring’. But her true passion was reversed for the sling and arrows that she has endured over the past four years. Beneath the icy exterior, she is smarting. She went into battle, condemning the ‘salacious gossip and unwarranted personal attacks’ that had been directed at her. Her ire appears to be directed at her old boon companion Stephanie Winston Wolkoff who wrote a Daily Beast op-ed called ‘Melania’s Ex-BFF: There’s Blood on Her Hands’. In attempting to refute the sentiments of the essay, Melania confirmed them.

The origin of the feud between Melania and Winston Wolkoff rests in the disbursement of funds for Trump’s lavish $107 million inauguration in 2017. Winston Wolkoff was supposed to be the fall gal for the misuse of them. Instead, she lashed out at Melania, producing the tapes that showed she had, if nothing else, quite a potty mouth. Now the Washington Post is reporting that DC attorney general Karl Racine, who was already suing the inaugural committee, is now alleging that there is new evidence of fiscal hanky-panky. The Post notes, ‘On Monday, Racine added an allegation to that suit. He said the President’s inaugural committee — a tax-exempt charity — had improperly paid a bill it did not owe, using nonprofit funds to pay a bill owed by a for-profit business.’ Racine is demanding that the booty that Trump raked in from the inaugural be donated to a genuine charity.

The further that this swindler recedes from the presidency, the clearer it will become that he was running a criminal operation for his own benefit. He didn’t work for the government. The government worked for him.

Trump’s own aides, who are scrambling to exit government, know that the wolf is at the door. Chad Wolf, the acting head of the Homeland Security, has gone AWOL, resigning from his post on the eve of the inauguration. Perhaps his terming the events of January 6 ‘tragic and sickening’ was enough to incur the wrath of Trump. Wolf may be gone, but Vice President Mike Pence has remained at his post, refusing to invoke the 25th Amendment and meeting with Trump in the Oval Office today, where they supposedly had a discussion of the greatest hits of the administration during the past four years.

But Trump faces a two-front war. Aggrieved by Pence’s refusal, the Democrats are headed for a fresh confrontation with Trump by sanctioning a new round of impeachment. And the NeverTrump movement has been emboldened. Former national security adviser John Bolton exhorted Republicans to ‘purge the taint of Trumpism’. So tainted is Trump that even his old crony, New England Patriots football coach Bill Belichick, announced on Monday that he would decline the Presidential Medal of Freedom because of the ‘tragic events of last week’.

The thing that probably most enrages Trump, however, is that Deutsche Bank and Signature Bank are bailing out on him. He thought that the presidency would enrich him. Instead, it may well lead to his bankruptcy. Perhaps like the ignoble financier Augustus Melmotte in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now who hankered after a brilliant political career, Trump knew all along that ‘As the soldier who leads a forlorn hope, or as the diver who goes down for pearls, or as the searcher for wealth on fever-breeding coasts, knows that as his gains may be great, so are his perils, Melmotte had been aware that in his life, as it opened itself out to him, he might come to terrible destruction.’ The final chapter in the Trump family saga will be 11.

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