If you aren’t tired of the goings on in the administration of President Trump, you certainly should be. He’s been in office only 14 months, and the daily news is nothing but tweeted claims, allegations and inferences. It seems to become harder and harder each day for the average citizen to avoid becoming totally cynical about Washington and the politicians who work there.
Every time there’s some new revelation about the president or his family or some of the bumbling members of his cabinet, I think, What would have happened to President Obama if any of these ugly events took place under his administration?
Can you imagine what the Republican Congress would have done to Obama if he had been accused of paying off a porn star to keep an affair out of the press? If that had happened, there would have been at least three Congressional investigations going on, and members of the House of Representatives would be drafting articles of impeachment.
If you recall, it wasn’t that long ago when a president, Bill Clinton, was impeached for lying about having an affair with a White House intern. That doesn’t seem so serious by today’s standards, compared with the antics of a Harvey Weinstein. But when Congress is out to get you and you’re in the other political party, all bets are off.
Somehow, Americans have become numb to the antics of this president, and either ignore his daily conduct or are so committed to him that there isn’t anything he can do that will offend them. My friends who are Trump sympathizers are so in love with him that, to paraphrase him, he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and they’d blame it on the victim for not dodging the bullet.
Can you imagine if Obama or any of the Bushes owned a hotel in Washington, D.C., from which they were earning profits while they were in office? What if Bill Clinton’s son-in-law had a White House job and was having meetings with the Russians — or representatives of any foreign country — to help his real estate business? Congress would be awash in cries of “Treason!”
Given that we’re all so exhausted, it’s worth trying to predict what will eventually happen to Trump when Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishes his investigation. It won’t be soon, even if Trump wishes it would go away, but here are the potential results.
Let’s start out with the easiest one. In Scenario 1, the president is found clean as a whistle, with no allegations of wrongdoing. Even though he heard rumors during the campaign that the Russians were helping him get elected, he was so disconnected to the whole thing that Mueller totally exonerates him.
In Scenario 2, Mueller charges Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with some kind of illegal conduct and alleges that the president knew all about that conduct. Trump would undoubtedly pardon Kushner and send the kids back to New York to rest after their great ordeal. As for the president, he’d call the whole thing “fake news.”
In Scenario 3, Mueller charges the president with obstruction of justice in connection with his firing of FBI Director James Comey and his attempts to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. On top of that, Mueller alleges that Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly about the campaign, and knew all about the Russian effort to elect him. Because a president can’t be charged with a crime in a court of law, the Justice Department would have to refer the whole matter to the House of Representatives. And because Republican House members are so interested in passing their legislative agenda, which includes things like repealing Roe v. Wade and kicking 800,000 immigrant “Dreamers” out of the country, the speaker of the House would refer the findings to some obscure committee with instructions to report back within four years.
I hope this simplifies the swirl of issues surrounding the fate of the president. As a side note, you can be sure that if he has to testify under oath, he will assert his Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid incriminating himself, and that might be the end of the whole saga.
This brief outline should relieve some of your angst about the future. Now let’s get back to work.
Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.