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A storm on the horizon

The Russia thing.

The public does not think about it often. The supporters of Donald Trump deny anything happened. The president tweets his innocence incessantly, and all the while the special prosecutor works quietly away, delving into the darkest recesses of political intrigue.

The president’s supporters in Congress demur anything like a serious investigation, deny there is anything to investigate, and defer from asking questions that could reveal surprising answers. And if demur, deny, and defer are not enough, Congress investigates the investigators, because distraction is the only and best tool left.

All of this constitutes how America passes its time while waiting for Special Procescutor Robert Mueller’s investigation to conclude and publish its results. And, make no mistake, the investigations results mean a great deal to the nation.

But what happens to America, should Mueller uncover misdeeds of a criminal, moral and ethical nature by people within the Trump campaign and administration?

Imagine, if you will, evidence presented that is compelling in both detail and confession and supported by collaborating evidence and under oath statements, which names crimes of conspiracy to violate U.S. election law.

Should that conclusion further indict and criminally charge individuals within the Trump administration, within the White House, or even within the Trump family? Will the Trump administration go quietly into the night in disgrace?

Will Trump’s exceedingly loyal followers abandon the president?

Will Congress, if faced within undeniable evidence, seek to use the ultimate congressional remedy, impeachment?

It is hard to foretell these responses if the Mueller investigation so concludes, but we can gain some insight by observing the president’s actions now.

This president never confesses,  never admits guilt. Never. When 19 women came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, Trump boldly called them all liars. When Trump said he always opposed the Iraqi war and was shown a video of him endorsing the war, he simply said it was not true in a vivid, “who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes,” (Chico Marx, 1933) example.

So we know at least that the president’s personal style would dictate denial in the face of any evidence.

We also know, from listening to the president that he cares not in the least about facts.

When speaking at a Republican fund-raising dinner this winter, Trump shared with his audience that he insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, though he (Trump) had no idea if such a deficit existed. It did not.

That suggests that Trump will not care about the facts and could be expected to offer, “alternative facts,” as his advisor Kellyanne Conway once offered to the media.

It is reasonable that the president would use these tools, as they have served him well. But the president has been using another tool he believes in deeply; say something enough times and they will believe you. It is Trump’s alternative truth always available and fact-free. The phrase used by this president over and over is “no collusion.”

Perhaps the most serious problem facing America, should the investigation turn to this path, is what do Trump’s strong followers do when Trump claims the FBI, the Department of Justice, Democrats, Hillary and Bill and everyone, framed him?

Will the rule of law prevail and will Congress act accordingly? Will the citizens see the threat that faces the nation should we ignore the constitutional crisis that would ensue?

There may be a storm on the horizon and, as Patrick Rothfuss said, “A tree doesn’t make a thunderstorm, but any fool knows where lightning’s going to strike.”

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.