May 21st 2017

Donald Trump Will Not Go Gently

by Charles J. Reid, Jr.

Charles J. Reid, Jr. was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he majored in Latin, Classics, and History, and also did substantial coursework in classical Greek and modern European languages. It was during his undergraduate days that he developed an interest in canon law, doing a year of directed research in Roman and canon law under the supervision of James Brundage. Reid then attended the Catholic University of America, where he earned J.D. and J.C.L. (license in canon law) degrees. During his time at Catholic University, he organized a series of symposia on the bishops' pastoral letter on nuclear arms. The proceedings of these symposia were published under Reid's editorship as "Peace in a Nuclear Age: The Bishops' Pastoral Letter in Perspective" (Catholic University of America Press, 1986). This book was called by the New York Times "among the most scholarly and unsettling of responses" to the pastoral letter (December 28, 1986).Reid then attended Cornell University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of medieval law under the supervision of Brian Tierney. His thesis at Cornell was on the Christian, medieval origins of the western concept of individual rights. Over the last ten years, he has published a number of articles on the history of western rights thought, and is currently completing work on a book manuscript addressing this question.In 1991, Reid was appointed research associate in law and history at the Emory University School of Law, where he has worked closely with Harold Berman on the history of western law. He collaborated with Professor Berman on articles on the Lutheran legal science of the sixteenth century, the English legal science of the seventeenth century, and the flawed premises of Max Weber's legal historiography.While at Emory, Reid has also pursued a research agenda involving scholarship on the history of western notions of individual rights; the history of liberty of conscience in America; and the natural-law foundations of the jurisprudence of Judge John Noonan. He has also published articles on various aspects of the history of the English common law. He has had the chance to apply legal history in a forensic setting, serving as an expert witness in litigation involving the religious significance of Christian burial. Additionally, Reid has taught a seminar on the contribution of medieval canon law to the shaping of western constitutionalism.  Recently, Reid has become a featured blogger at the Huffington Post on current issues where religion, law and politics intersect.
 
As Donald Trump traverses the Middle East and Europe on his first international trip, there is considerable discussion domestically concerning the possibility that he might be removed from office, either involuntarily through impeachment, or through voluntary resignation.  I am not, however, convinced that he will soon depart office.  I hold to the view, rather, that when he returns from his overseas travels he will embark on a vigorous defense of his position.
 
Here is what I suspect his game plan will be.  First, he will massively reorganize the executive levels of his Administration. He must know that his continued tenure in office is being placed in jeopardy by highly-placed leaks.  Consider the recent leaks surrounding Trump’s meeting on May 10 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.  How many officials would know that Trump shared with Lavrov highly sensitive intelligence provided by a foreign government?  How many would have access to the transcript of this meeting, at which Trump also apparently called former FBI Director James Comey a “nutjob” and hinted that relations with Russia might improve with Comey out of the way?  I am guessing that the number is minuscule and that they are all well-placed.
 
The leakers may have the best of intentions.  They may see the security of the United States as being placed at undue risk by Trump’s ill-considered statements and gestures.  They may feel themselves duty-bound to act.  Certainly, large portions of the American public might well agree with such an assessment.  But it is safe to say that Donald Trump views matters differently.  And he surely believes himself entitled to the loyalty of his senior staff.  And my guess is that upon returning from his international meetings, he will fire those he suspects of leaking.
 
Who then will Trump select to succeed his fired staff?  My guess is that he will draw from three pools.  First, he will likely seek talent from among the true believers.  Expect therefore to see some unknown figures elevated to senior positions, drawn from Breitbart News, perhaps, or the American Conservative, or a faculty like Liberty University.  Pat Buchanan might even enjoy a last hurrah as a senior advisor.  And Steve Bannon will be rehabilitated.
 
Trump will also draw from family.  Look to Jared Kushner to assume even greater responsibility.  Perhaps he will succeed Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff.  Trump will also recruit talent from the New York business community that he knows so well.  Carl Icahn likely will not join the Administration, but don’t be surprised if he recommends some names to Trump.
 
Next, I foresee civil war breaking out between Trump and the Republican establishment.  Republican establishment types are already beginning to talk openly about what they might accomplish with a President Mike Pence and a Republican Congress.  Trump surely hears these conversations.
 
This is not wise.  I expect Trump to launch a scorched-earth response if he comes to feel threatened by the Republican Party leadership.  Trump does not owe the Republican Party establishment in the way a more normal politician might.  He did not rise through the ranks.  Rather, he outflanked the Party leadership by force of personality and the adept use of social media.  Are there any skeletons in Paul Ryan’s closet?  Or anyone else’s?  Trump will surely investigate carefully to learn what is there.  Maybe he has already.
 
Furthermore, I shall surmise that Donald Trump will return to doing what he does best:  Campaign.  I expect him to hit the campaign trail and to remain on it for much of the summer.  He is at bottom an entertainer, and he will gift middle America with an old-fashioned barnstorming tour.  I can easily envision him rallying support in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and all the states and places that have been the hardest hit by trade deals.
 
In the process, he will build a mass movement.  The movement will stand in parallel with the Republican Party.  Trump will ensure, however, that their primary loyalty remains with him.  it will be the “do-nothing” Congress that has failed to take effective action on his agenda.  It will the “Swamp” that is lashing out him through the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia.
 
And regarding that special counsel, I am sure that Trump will mount a vigorous defense.  He will challenge the investigation on the merits.  What precisely is being investigated anyway?  He will raise doubts about the substance of the investigation.  He will assert that he himself is blameless.  He will talk about how it is the right of a candidate for president to speak forcefully on the stump and that his call to Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s emails was just a figure of speech.
 
But I suspect he will contest the investigation in other ways also.  For instance, he has already raised ethical concerns about Robert Mueller, the special counsel named to lead the investigation.  Mueller worked for the law firm Wilmer Hale, which also represented Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, in some business dealings.  Can Mueller treat Kushner fairly?  Trump has already asked that question.  Expect Trump’s resistance to the investigation to grow a level of magnitude greater.  He will surely contest every request for information, every subpoena, every deposition.  And the lawyers Mueller hires to assist in the investigation should be squeaky clean.  Trump would not be above investigating them for embarrassing details about their personal lives.
 
If the investigation begins to draw blood, look for Trump to wield the pardon power.  Jared Kushner is especially indispensable to Donald Trump.  If investigators determine that Kushner might be implicated in serious wrong-doing, I would expect that Trump will pardon him.  Michael Flynn knows a great deal.  A pardon might also gain his silence.
 
Trump, furthermore, will not step down, at least not without first waging a hell of a fight.  It is not in his character.  Furthermore, it is not in his interest to do so.  A presidential resignation will not make the investigations go away.  Indeed, a resignation exposes Trump to even greater risk of prosecution in the event some alleged misdeeds are detected.  Trump will not want to feel vulnerable in this way.
 
I anticipate, therefore, that we may be standing on the cusp of a constitutional crisis that could be worse than Watergate.  I write as a Democrat.  I caucused for Bernie Sanders and voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election.  But I would counsel my fellow Democrats to temper their calls for impeachment.  Yes, at some point, it may become necessary to travel down that path.  But we should bear in the mind that to journey will be hard, even traumatic.  And I tremble at the prospect.


For Dr. Charles J. Reid's  web site, please click here.


To subscribe to Facts and Arts' weekly newsletter, please click here.

 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jul 10th 2019

 

The eight-mile ‘river of flowers’ that grows alongside a motorway nea
Jul 5th 2019
"........since World War II, 97% of unimproved grassland habitats have vanished from the UK. This has contributed to the loss of pollinating insects – and the distribution of one third of species has shrunk since 1980."
Jun 25th 2019
"For many of us, eating a meal containing meat is a normal part of daily life. But if we dig deeper, some sobering issues emerge. Every year, 66 billion terrestrial animals are slaughtered for food. Predictions are that meat consumption will rise, with increasing demand for meat from China and other Asian countries as their standards of living increase. The impact of grazing animals on the environment is devastating. They produce 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases, and livestock farming is a major contributor to species extinctions."
Jun 22nd 2019
"Throughout history, people who have gained positions of power tend to be precisely the kind of people who should not be entrusted with it. A desire for power often correlates with negative personality traits: selfishness, greed and a lack of empathy. And the people who have the strongest desire for power tend to be the most ruthless and lacking in compassion."
Jun 21st 2019
"In this era of Trump, it should perhaps come as no surprise to find supposed experts lacking in historical perspective. Yet it is still disappointing to find this deficit in the New York Times, which prides itself on clinging to a pursuit of the truth. So it is a bit sad to read the plaintive cry of Allison Schrager’s op-ed of May 17, lamenting that the domination of art markets by the super-rich will somehow force smaller galleries to go out of business, and imperil the careers of young artists."
Jun 17th 2019
Extract: "ust as an earlier generation resisted the limiting post-War era "white middle class" definition of being American by giving birth to an awakening of cultural pluralism and ethnic pride, it falls to our generation to fight for an expanded view of the idea of being American that rejects the narrow view projected by Trump and white nationalists. The idea of America isn't theirs. It's bigger than they are and unless our national cohesion is to unravel, this challenge must be met by projecting an inclusive vision of America that celebrates our inclusive national identity in an increasingly globalized world."
May 28th 2019
Whatever other attributes Homo sapiens may have – and much is made of our opposable thumbs, upright walking and big brains – our capacity to impact the environment far and wide is perhaps unprecedented in all of life’s history. If nothing else, we humans can make an almighty mess.
Apr 29th 2019
A century ago, unspeakable horrors took place on every continent that were known only to the victims and the perpetrators. Not so today. As a result of advances in communications – from the telegraph and radio to satellite television and the internet – the pain and loss of global tragedies are brought home to us in real time.   Because of this expanding consciousness, the post-World War II era has witnessed the rise of visionary leaders and the birth of countless organizations dedicated to alleviating suffering and elevating the causes of peace, human rights, and tolerance among peoples. Individually and collectively, they have championed the rights of peoples in far-flung corners of the world, some of which had been previously unknown to those who became their advocates. These same leaders and groups have also fought for civil rights and for economic, social, political, and environmental justice in their own countries. 
Apr 23rd 2019

 

“Cursed be that mortal inter-indebtedness which will not do away with ledgers. I would be free as air; and I’m down in the whole world’s books. I am so rich… and yet I owe for the flesh in the tongue I brag with” (Moby Dick, chapter cviii). 

Apr 20th 2019
Economists speak in numbers only, clinging to statistical data and quantitative models. We do so in the hope of looking objective. But this is counter-productive – “data” cannot tell us everything. Other social sciences such as sociology and anthropology use a broader range of methods, and consequently have a broader perspective on society. If we take our societal role of adviser on economic matters seriously, we will need to open up and adopt the insights that these other disciplines bring us about how the economy works.Politics and economics are inextricably intertwined, as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx knew all too well. Somehow this has been forgotten. This does not mean economists need to get political or choose sides. But it does mean that we ignore politics at our own peril – by blindsiding ourselves or dismissing it as “external stuff”, we hamper our understanding of the very system we study.
Apr 16th 2019
Although it is not likely that many visitors who pass by the Giacometti sculptures on their way to Las Meninas will ponder it, the contrast between these works underscores the single greatest transformation in the history of western art, from a regime in which artists tailored their works to the aims of individual patrons, to one in which artists choose their techniques and motifs according to their own concerns, and only then present the products to an anonymous competitive market
Apr 4th 2019
On March eleventh, the world lost someone who was very special, who made a mark and touched people with his voice, as a singer, a humorist and writer..........I had the great good fortune to know him and spend time with him, playing music, talking with him – he was a man of immense culture, fluent in Hebrew, German, English, and Romanian. He loved New York City and Vienna and we would often swap apartments so that he could stay in New York while I lived at his place in Vienna.
Apr 1st 2019
The ongoing controversy over admissions to American universities has overlooked the one of the most telling aspects of the scandal—that it took place with the connivance and active participation of administrative bureaucracies able to act with impunity in the pursuit of their interests. Neither the professoriate, often the target of opprobrium from the left and the right, nor the student body, also the target of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, bore any of the responsibility.  Current debates over “what ails” U.S. colleges and universities consistently ignore the single most important dynamic of all institutions—their structure of power. I suggest that the way in which power is allocated within American universities is strikingly similar to that of Soviet-type regimes. Presidents, chancellors, provosts, deans, and their bureaucratic apparatuses preside over vast real-estate and financial holdings, engage in the economic equivalent of central planning, have inordinate influence over personnel, and are structured hierarchically, thereby forming an enormously powerful “new class” like that described by the renowned Yugoslav dissident, Milovan Djilas, in the mid-1950s. 
Mar 22nd 2019
When you think of religion, you probably think of a god who rewards the good and punishes the wicked. But the idea of morally concerned gods is by no means universal. Social scientists have long known that small-scale traditional societies – the kind missionaries used to dismiss as “pagan” – envisaged a spirit world that cared little about the morality of human behaviour. Their concern was less about whether humans behaved nicely towards one another and more about whether they carried out their obligations to the spirits and displayed suitable deference to them. Nevertheless, the world religions we know today, and their myriad variants, either demand belief in all-seeing punitive deities or at least postulate some kind of broader mechanism – such as karma – for rewarding the virtuous and punishing the wicked. In recent years, researchers have debated how and why these moralising religions came into being.
Mar 19th 2019
European food and ingredients have become staple food choices for the British. The use of ingredients such as garlic, peppers, avocados, Parmesan cheese and all those other European ingredients that are now taken for granted are relatively new and were still rare in the 1990s. When I was growing up in rural Devon in the 1970s, olive oil was only really readily available in chemists as a cure for earache – now it is found in most food cupboards. And wine drinking has permeated through all social classes.
Mar 12th 2019
The Guggenheim’s strange and wonderful exhibition of Hilma af Klint’s groundbreaking, yet largely unknown body of abstract art is an important event – one that challenges us to not only rethink the early history of twentieth century abstract art, but to recognize her vision of art and reality as unique, authentic, and deliciously puzzling. 
Feb 25th 2019
Looking at the world today, it's clear that the consequences of this imperial legacy are still with us. If anything has changed it is that we are now beyond just viewing the former "natives" as far-away oddities. They are now living within our borders, having come to find the opportunities they were denied at home. So when I hear the reactions in the West to the influx of South Asians going to the UK, or North Africans going to France, or Central Americans migrating to the US, I can only say "Guys, these are the fruits of your conquest – your chickens coming home to roost."
Feb 25th 2019
Extracts: "The new novel Sérotonine by Michel Houellebecq, the bad boy of French literature, is a saga of depression and death told with such irony and wit that readers seem to love it despite the unsettling themes. Maybe it’s just me but I found myself laughing out loud.......True to form, the French don’t agree on Houellebecq – or anything else, for that matter. The impact of his new novel has divided the readers into opposite love-hate camps with hardly any middle ground. Houellebecq cannot leave you indifferent, notes a literary friend of mine"........Picture: Michel Houellebecq, by the reviewer Michael Johnson. 
Feb 19th 2019
The term “smiling depression” – appearing happy to others while internally suffering depressive symptoms – has become increasingly popular. Articles on the topic have crept up in the popular literature, and the number of Google searches for the condition has increased dramatically this year. Some may question, however, whether this is actually a real, pathological condition. While smiling depression is not a technical term that psychologists use, it is certainly possible to be depressed and manage to successfully mask the symptoms. The closest technical term for this condition is “atypical depression”. In fact, a significant proportion of people who experience a low mood and a loss of pleasure in activities manage to hide their condition in this way. And these people might be particularly vulnerable to suicide.
Feb 19th 2019
Outstanding, experienced journalist Michael Johnson, whose articles, often accompanied by his striking portraits, has now brought his love of music and of pen, ink, gouache and watercolor to create a study of remarkable insight, strong opinions and beauty in this gorgeous book. Written in both French and English the brief descriptions of musicians he has met, studied, interviewed are accompanied by distinctive portraits that, as his title suggests, some may be caricatures. I argue that the author/artist has created insightful studies of the human face engaged in the pursuit of music. The only caricature is his own self-deprecating, slyly wry self-portrait that opens the book—and it is worth the book’s purchase on its own.