Questions about Judgment: Trump appointed Flynn in the First Place

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The sudden resignation of Trump National Security Adviser Mike Flynn on Monday evening clearly was actually a firing.

Flynn was given a pink slip for embarrassing Vice President Mike Pence by assuring him that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in his unusual late December telephone call. Obama had just that day placed more sanctions on Russia, in reaction to Russian hacking activities during the election.

But in addition, the revelations about Flynn were flying in DC. WaPo revealed that the former acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, had warned Trump that the Department of Justice had reason to believe that he was open to being blackmailed by the Russians (because of his lie about not discussing sanctions). Of course, similar allegations have been made about Trump himself.

The Russian press reported that Flynn had “retired.”

I wrote on Saturday,

The Washington Post reports that conversations with no less than nine intelligence officials confirm that Flynn did talk with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about Obama’s sanctions on the Russian Federation. Flynn apparently urged the Russians not to be too upset about the new sanctions suggesting that the Trump administration would revisit them. Flynn at the time was not in any government office and had no right to negotiate with a foreign power, an act prohibited to civilians by the Logan Act. Flynn must have known that the Russian ambassador’s telephone is under NSA surveillance and so it is weird to the extreme that he would risk breaking the law in public, so to speak.

It is bad enough that Flynn may have committed this breach of the law. On top of that, when questioned about these allegations he lied and said he had not discussed sanctions with Kislyak. He not only lied himself but he told Vice President Mike Pence this lie and so arranged for Pence to go on television and repeat Flynn’s lie. Flynn wasn’t under oath, so I suppose this is just a lie and not perjury. But surely lying to your boss and embarrassing him would be a firing offense?

So I put my finger on exactly the transgression that led to Flynn’s downfall– that he lied to Pence. Apparently there are actual transcripts of the Flynn-Kislyak conversation in the hands of the CIA, which Flynn, Bannon and Trump had trashed on the issue of whether Russia had intervened in the election. Flynn was reckless to bring up an economic issue with Russia while still a civilian, and stupid if he did not know he was being recorded.

There is another investigation of Flynn that I also mentioned on Saturday, as to whether he took a fee from the Russian Federation to appear in Moscow at a dinner also attended by Vladimir Putin in honor of the Russian state-owned news service, Russia Today. This payment would violate the Logan Act, given that Flynn is a retired Lt. General and could have been recalled to service (as in a way he was, only on the civilian side, when Trump made him National Security Adviser).

Flynn had a lot of baggage. There are also questions concerning the about-face of Flynn with regard to Turkey. He had been a critic (he hates Muslims) but then when his consulting firm got a contract from a Turkish businessman close to President Tayyip Erdogan, Flynn abruptly switched around and became a big booster of Ankara.

These indications that the general is a man of easy virtue are not the only alarming things about him, of course. There is also his hatred of Muslims, what with calling Islam a cancer, and alleging that it is a political movement masquerading as a religion, his call for Arab and Iranian leaders publicly to confess that their ‘Islamic ideology’ is sick, and in need of ‘healing.’

What takes the cake is his allegation on Sirius radio in 2015 that Arabic signs had been erected on the border with Mexico to guide Muslim radicals into the United States.

This is tin foil hat stuff (and there’s lots more signs of mental instability in the man’s twitter feed, including buying into the bizarre pizzagate conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was running a pedophilia ring out of a DC pizza joint).

Any normal person who knew anything serious about Flynn’s erratic and fantastic assertions and about his shady “consulting” with foreign powers should have known better than to put him in charge of advising on America’s national security. He had already been fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

That Trump could not see what a hot mess Flynn was reflects extremely poorly on Trump’s judgment, and a mere resignation cannot change that.

Worse, questions are swirling about whether Trump himself put Flynn up to calling the Russians when Obama was still in office, and whether Flynn was just a messenger boy for his boss when he hinted around that Russia shouldn’t worry too much about those Obama sanctions.

Flynn may have fallen on his sword, or been tossed off the Trump Tower onto it. But severe questions about Trump’s judgment and perhaps even his entanglement in an illegal act (civilians are not allowed to conduct diplomacy with foreign powers). Every time Trump dances away from criticizing Putin, you have to wonder if he was in the same basket with Flynn. Kompromat.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Resigns | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

55 Responses

  1. This is absolutely a step towards the light. You, Juan, bring up all the remaining questions very well, and of course I think you had the essential thread months ago with “For Russia’s Hold on Trump, Follow the Money … ”

    The only regret will be if this timely resignation helps Flynn (and everyone else in this compromised crew) escape prosecution for their crimes.

  2. If nothing else, the So-Called Ruler Of The United States (or SCROTUS) is teaching us that there are invariably very good reasons for doing things the boring old conventional way.

  3. It’s 8:00 Eastern time, and so far I haven’t heard a single comment identifying Flynn’s sin. Yes he was fired for embarrassing the VP, but his real sin was nothing more or less than getting caught.

    • William your comments are the epitome of Dr. King’s wonderful quote “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.

  4. Upon hearing this news there was the temptation to see it as evidence that even with Trump there were limits.

    It is more realistic to see those limits were set by core team dynamics, driven by implicit coercion from the IC.

    So, it wasn’t as though Flynn were sacked for his views, or that Trump feels some limit on his omnipotence in the face of them.

    • Trump hoped this would go away if he did nothing. When it broke into the open with the WaPo story, he knew keeping Flynn would look worse than firing him. So buh-bye Mike. Trump didn’t care at all about the underlying actions, since he was almost certainly party to them.

  5. The Flynn resignation has removed Iran from the news and the internet. That is very, very dangerous. Flynn was not the only adviser of the President who is alleged to suggest that the administration go to or even over the brink of war with Iran.

  6. Thanks Juan, BUT why “in reaction to Russian hacking activities during the election.” as if you just assume these unfounded allegations, just as so many now assume that Russia would of course blackmail Flynn.

    • There is a lot of evidence and small doubts of Russian hacking and spying. The question is, where it happened, besides the DNC, and how much interference was there?

      For example, December 29, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI released a joint report on “Russian malicious cyber activity.”

      In the Senate, Armed Services cyber subcommittee is investigating that evidence and other issues of cyber defense.

      You may choose to linger among the doubts.
      To resolve the doubts, let us all join together, calling for an investigation like the 9/11 commission, in order to gather more data & information. That is necessary for a fact-based assessment of what was going on in the election and what is happening in the present, here and around the globe.

      • we didn’t need the 9/11 Report.
        We sure don’t need another report like it.

        That 9/11 report was written by a committee whose charter was to absolve the guy who appointed them of any responsibility,
        .
        Accordingly, the 9/11 report says that Prez Bush had nothing to do with the invasion.

    • How can those allegations ever go from being unfounded to founded when you join with the Trumpites in calling anyone qualified to determine this a biased imperialist conspirator? I mean, that may well be true, but what does that leave us with but the need to harass the administration until the large burden of creating an unbiased investigation can no longer be postponed. The right-wing media kept many, many unfounded allegations simmering against Democratic leaders, and won an election for a fascist that way. Since they’re “patriots” they never had to have an unbiased investigation to get what they wanted. Are we supposed to fight with our hands tied behind our backs?

    • There is no doubt that Russia hacked the DNC during the election period. Our intelligence agencies are very good at detecting the source of hacking. You seem to be as bad as Trump in trying to protect Putin and the Russians.

      • @William
        Hacking is like spying, everybody does it all the time (USA incl.).
        is it not time to stop blaming the Russians for our lack of security?

  7. The WH dumped him because he lied to Pence. OK, you can’t keep around a high official who lies to the Vice President. But Trump and his supporters had no issue with Flynn’s consistently bad policy positions.

    His downfall was purely a question of domestic politics – Flynn had turned into a talking point for Trump’s critics and this controversy was about to snowball. But had he not lied about his conversation(s) with the Russians, Flynn would still be National Security Advisor.

    That’s troubling.

  8. “That Trump could not see what a hot mess Flynn was reflects extremely poorly on Trump’s judgment, and a mere resignation cannot change that”.
    That judgement must be shared by every Senator who voted aye on the consent issue.
    Perhaps the time has come to begin to question whether the votes on most of the president’s appointments were extremely poor judgement.
    One payback time is 2018.

  9. Embarrassed VP Pence comes out of this Flynn affair looking pretty darn good, while people debate to how much Trump knew about Flynn’s ‘solo Russian deal making’. With Flynn transcripts in hand could we at least say, score one for the CIA. Seriously, this is some intriguingly great reality TV. Kind of makes a viewer anxious to see what happens on the next episode of Trump in the White House.

  10. Myself, I’m confident Trump knew everything Flynn did as he did it and reported Putin’s declination of reprisal sanctions immediately (as reflected in Trump’s tweet of 12/30). Trump likely told Flynn to keep the conversations to himself, causing him to lie to all others. Trump has known for weeks of the NSC transcript, certainly from before he fired the acting AG. It really was the leaks that caught out Trump & Flynn, not the act to compromising the US, that forced Flynn’s resignation.

    • Trump had to promise Russia that the sanctions would be lifted before he even had time to be inaugurated. Maybe because the deadline was coming to get his payback through a secret share in that shock selloff of 19% of Russia’s state oil company? Of course, I can prove nothing. That’s just how things are in Oceania.

  11. Since nobody seemed to object to President-elect Trump negotiating with Egypt, i don’t think that General Flynn was removed just for a Logan Act violation.
    By the way, didn’t Reagan negotiate with the Iranians before the election?!

  12. Flynn may be gone, but this administration is still filled with inexperienced and incompetent advisers and staff. This is certainly the worst cabinet in my memory. The train wreck continues.

  13. Kremlinology may just be masturbation by those Karl Rove derided as reality-studiers. But here’s a shot.

    If Flynn REALLY lied to Pence, that implies that Pence would have given a damn about Russia. Which is not impossible. He’s an old-school theocrat and those guys are just too used to seeing Russia as a rival belief system.

    That would mean that factional conflicts within this bizarre White House still matter. Even “totalitarian” regimes have factions. And internal conflicts mean leaks. And leaks drip, drip, drip.

    However, I would caution that many Evangelical fanatics have been adjusting their worldviews, embracing Putin’s homophobia and war on his own Moslems. Moreover, with these guys all hatreds of foreigners are a means to an end, which is the reconstruction of America into a theocratic state. Pence may not give a damn about Flynn’s coverup at all. The whole White House gang, the whole Republican Party, may be perfectly unified behind the goal of holding onto power by any means necessary, and willing to put up with whatever works this minute.

    Machiavelli would say that it’s wise to sacrifice a flunky early on to scapegoat for an unpopular policy. But such an act can also put blood in the water.

  14. jack odwyer, Have you copyrighted SCROTUS? You may want to, since I am going to tell everyone I know to start using it. It’s excellent on multiple levels!

  15. Flynn was in the military for 30 years. He knows the chain of command. In my opinion a military man would not take it upon himself to discuss sanctions, etc. without clearing it with the Commander in Chief.

    Look for a wag the dog play by Trump to get the press off of his scent.

    • I would submit the name of Lt. Col. Oliver North at this point, but then the American Congress and public chose to embrace the comfortable notion that Reagan was out of the loop, and nothing can change that now.

  16. Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, was also at Putin’s table at that 2015 RT dinner, along with Flynn. Would we be correct in assuming her presence there would not be a problem under the Logan Act, because she is a civilian?

    • Yes, you would be correct. No one has accused Jill Stein of negotiating anything with Russia (as though they’d be interested) and the Logan Act does not forbid civilians from taking money from foreign governments (if she did).

  17. This story just feeds the hysteria about Russia. I don’t see its great significance. No one came close tom be prosecuted under the Logan Act. Obama met with foreign leaders before he was President. I know he was a Senator, but still…

    This plus the dossier nonsense plus the election hacking, of which we don’t hear much anymore is all a bunch of garbage – to distract from more serious issues.

    I hate Trump, but come on!! Let’s talk about. the Labor appointment, climate change , pipelines, etc.. We need to keep things in perspective!

    • You just don’t want to consider any possibility that America is not the sole source of evil in the world. Putin is anti-American, therefore he must be an angel. You know that his government has been supportive of far-right racist parties throughout Europe, that it will do what it can to help LePen and the German neo-fascists finish off two more democracies.

      An objective observer would ask, why SHOULDN’T every country attempt to use these methods to interfere with others’ elections? You are yourself creating the conditions in which there is no cost for doing so by saying that it is impossible (except by the uniquely evil CIA). And in fact, it probably is slowly coming about – though Putin’s striking success, mark my words, will bring the avalanche. Elections are in the process of becoming completely useless because no one can begin to tell who they’re really voting for in this fake-news false-flag environment.

      You want everything to be about domestic policy because you don’t give a damn about US power. But now democracy is dead. Human rights are dead. That will feed into our domestic politics, our transmutation into an Apartheid state that underlies all your areas of conflict with the capitalists. That was always the plan. We aren’t allowed to know whose plan or what comes next.

  18. There’s no particular reason to assume that Pence was lied to. He may very well have been part of this, as well as others from the Trump administration. But unless there is more information leaked, Pence has plausible deniability.

    • Indeed, and it won’t stop with a flynn dump, as pence has political hunger, RIGHT along with paul ryan, and the rest of the republicans! Just a slow drip, so, who will be next?

  19. Excellent article, Juan. However, I don’t need to be as thoughtful, thorough and reasonable since I’m expressing an opinion in the comment section. My view: Trump knew all along and very likely encouraged Flynn’s contacts with the Russians. The only reason Flynn was fired was because he made Pence look bad. Not because he did something unethical and illegal. Far from it; Trump and the Republicans are basically corrupt, neo-Nazi criminals and justify anything and everything that suits them. They have no morality.

    Impeachment would be on the table for any other president, but I am certain the Republicans in congress will do absolutely nothing.

    If it really gets to that point then the Reichstag type “incident” that many of us have predicted will certainly happen before impeachment.

  20. Professor Cole, as a former Marine Sgt, fantastic article, up and over with all of these REMF’s! Now, on to at least 75 others, if not more!!

    Semper fi . .

  21. There are more reasons to be worried about President Trump’s fitness to serve as Commander in Chief after the disastrous raid in Yemen last week, his creation of a duplicate but politically controlled national security structure with people such as Steven Bannon holding greater authority than non-partisan experts and his dismissal of the most senior foreign service officers and State Dept. civil servants.

    There is no reason to assume that during the Trump Presidential campaign where Flynn served as sycophantic rabble rouser and senior advisor during the pre-Inauguration transition and was later rewarded by being appointed to the position of National Security Advisor, that Flynn wasn’t in contact with Russians in a dual business and political/diplomatic capacity at the behest of Trump.

    No doubt Flynn enjoyed using his “consulting” skills to earn money from those “despicable and evil” Muslims in Turkey just as Rudi Guiliani did business with an groups and organizations that would have posed direct conflicts were he to have been selected as Secretary of State as Trump originally planned.
    link to politico.com

    It’s worth examining some key elements of the final years of Flynn when he served as a Lt. Gen. since his career overlapped with three other generals who served during the Obama years and who now have official and informal connections with President Trump.

    Flynn was a deeply flawed head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who reported to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, leader of the failed military campaign in Afghanistan.

    Gen. McChrystal, you might recall, was spectacularly relieved of his command by President Obama after “Rolling Stone Magazine” published an article entitled, “General Stanley McChrystal: The Runaway General in June 2010. link to rollingstone.com

    And both Gen. McChrystal and Gen. Patreus promoted an extreme set of counterinsurgency warfare tactics that were designed within the dubious initiative called COIN, whose raison d’etre was the improbable assertion that the destruction of a country provided the optimal strategy for rebuilding it in our own image.

    If this sounds familiar, it should. Why? Because in Feb. 1968, Peter Arnett, while investigating the immensely destructive campaign being waged by Americans against Bến Tre city as a reporter for the Associated Press was told by a U.S. Army Major that “It became necessary to destroy the town [in order] to save it.” Arnett claimed that the Major was referring specifically to the decision made by allied commanders to eliminate the “Vietcong” through intensive bombardment of the town with heavy artillery regardless of civilian casualties, since that would be the most efficacious way to “rout the Vietcong.” (For further details read the article, “Major Describes Move,” published in The New York Times on Feb. 8th in 1968).

    Lt. Gen. Flynn’s anti-Muslim fanaticism compromised the “actionable” intelligence that he passed on to field Generals and his conduct among his colleagues was almost always divisive and combative. But Flynn wasn’t alone in being unable to behave respectfully towards his civilian leaders.

    Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s criticism of Vice President Biden and President Obama stemmed from his belief that they were overly cautious and weak-willed. You can’t destroy the will of terrorists unless you were ruthless and used overwhelming force according to his formulation of military strategy.

    Gen. McChrystal apparently took great delight in designing small but maximally lethal units who were specially trained for negotiating the diverse terrains leading from Afghanistan to Pakistan in highly asymmetric battles; as well as combining these smaller and highly mobile fighting units along with larger fighting forces.

    You always knew when American forces had made their way through a region because with leaders who seemed to think all Arabic speakers and every Muslim was a potential terrorist, firing their weapons indiscriminately as they entered villages and towns could be morally justified. Needless to say, unlike Vietnam where there was some effort to “win hearts and minds,” such was not the case from the perspective of Lt. Gen. Flynn and Gen. McCrystal and Gen. Patreus as is easily observed when one bothers to consider the impact our military left on the millions of dead, maimed and displaced people and the spectre of entire cities reduced to fiery dust as the skies bellowed up the charred structures that once served as schools, places of worship and markets.

    In fact, the guerilla-style “surge” that Gen. Patreus designed for Iraq, helped further destroy Iraq’s social fabric, led to extremely violent sectarian conflict which was not much of problem under Sadaam Hussein, and ultimately caused the collapse of governmental institutions. (Some of the blame must go to former Proconsul Bremer of course). But the dismemberment of Iraq made it possible for the rise of ISIS and other groups who rather easily asserted themselves into the void of a failed state. (See Patrick Cockburn’s book, The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution).

    And the lessons from such flawed and overly destructive military aggression were never learned — as we have sadly witnessed from the destruction of Libya; a country led by the cruel and mercurial leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, who nonetheless understood something that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her military backers failed to accept: that Libya’s stability is the most efficacious means of preventing a mass exodus of refugees flooding into Europe via the Mediterranean. There is a useful article from Nov. 2014 published in The Boston Globe that provides an important explanation of the reasons for the complete failure of the “surge” in Iraq under Gen. Patreus. link to bostonglobe.com

    Yet, even after the history of the failed brutal military campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan led by Gen. Patreus, he still continues to argue even now that the best means of defeating terrorists is to arm other terrorists to fight them, those we know we can control because they are “moderates.” link to theguardian.com

    This should give us pause because Gen. Patreus President is still being short-listed as a replacement for Flynn as National Security Advisor according to Time Magazine.
    link to time.com

    As you will remember, while serving as Director of the C.I.A., Gen. Patreus shared classified CIA documents to his mistress and biographer and subsequently pleaded guilty to a felony (but was not required to serve any jail time).

    Now, despite not needing Senate Confirmation to serve as NSA to the U.S. President, it would be incredibly foolish and set a terrible precedent to reappoint someone to the staff of the most important group of foreign policy advisors when he has previously engaged in criminal activity that directly undermined his position, compromised the integrity of the most famous of the more than 15 intelligence agencies, as well as displayed incredibly poor judgment.

    This raises another issue that Prof. Cole has discussed previously but which needs to be discussed in even greater detail in light of Flynn’s forced resignation: relying on too many military leaders in positions that were designed to be led by civilians. Given the gutting of most of the best career Foreign Service officers and senior non-political State Dept. officials and with retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Matthis as head of Pentagon, there will be virtually no civilian oversight of our military (especially civilians who are not easily intimidated by the military as was President Obama) and this will most likely increase covert, undeclared and constitutionally illegal military campaigns that does not occur in the post-Vietnam era without greater reliance on “civilian contractors,” that is, mercenaries.

    According to leading investigative journalist Eric Scahill, few people know that Erik Prince, founder of the infamously corrupt mercenary firm Blackwater (who is also the brother of clueless Education Secretary Betsy DeVos), is secretly advising President Trump on foreign policy. link to democracynow.org

    When one considers all of these developments since 2009, it seems almost ineluctable that the U.S. will continue to destabilize the Middle East, create more adversaries and will continue to fail to develop a strategy that does not continue to provoke China as has occurred during the Obama administration with the “pivot” towards China which included encircling China with U.S. military bases as well as the significantly furthering the militarization of Japan. (That is why President Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week: to further commit to the increased militarization of Japan, which is a direct threat to China, which is provocative considering Japan’s brutal occupation of China during WWII, especially during the Rape of Nanjing).

    China is already a world power (but one with far more urgent social problems than exist now in the U.S.) and China remains the one country in the world with the greatest leverage over North Korea necessary to prevent further dangerous acts of aggression such as deployment of a ballistic missile test conducted only two days ago (which also occurred within 48 hours of Russia’s treaty-defying launching of new cruise missiles). link to nytimes.com

    North Korea typically engages in some kind of provocative military test when it wants something from the West. But in this case, it was yet another sign of political instability. In fact, there is now indisputable evidence that North Korea’s political elite are fracturing. (There have been several, frequently lethal purges during the last 4 years, most recently the top political enforcer, as was reported in the NY Times on Feb. 3rd). link to nytimes.com And: link to opendemocracy.net

  22. It took exactly 25 days from his inauguration until I first heard the word “impeach” used in the ultra-timid, non-partisan mainstream media. The man continues to impress.

    • The PPP poll numbers I saw last week had the public at 46% for impeachment, 46% against. I’ve never heard of anything like that before. It means there’s hardly anyone but his supporters who don’t want him impeached. I’m pretty damn sure that even when Bush Junior’s approval went down to 28%, the number who wanted to impeach wasn’t as much as 28%. The plurality of Americans were in the camp of disapproving but wanting to wait the bastard out.

      I don’t know if the American public has been this radically polarized since the Civil War.

  23. The issue here is not Flynn so much as the hold Russia has on 45. POTUS let this slide for weeks until Bannon told him what to do. Pence was kept out of the loop until he read about it in the media. Flynn ”resigns” after colluding with Russia for being stupid in how he did it. Nothing new, Flynn is stupid. He believed in “Pizzagate” and promoted the heinous conspiracy theory, personally. Good riddance no matter the reasons.

    Russia has now secretly deployed a cruise missile in violation of the arms control treaty that ended the Cold War. And currently, there is a Russian spy ship, the Viktor Leonov SSV-175 cruising 70 miles from the U.S.coast in violation to a 1987 Treaty. Four Russian military aircraft conducted low passes against a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea last week. What keeps POTUS from telling his hero Putin to knock off the sausage party? A serious question.

    Meanwhile in the Republican Congress – Any investigation of criminal Russian election influence is not useful because it might get in the way of repealing Obamacare! Is the marching order and the latest “shiny thing over there.” Never mind those POTUS tax records. Or protecting our country from the on-going coup by demented extremists.

  24. There are true conspiracies, huge ones, presently afoot, and some, like Kucinich (link to youtube.com), have just offered up the big picture to the American people: i.e. there’s a massive subterranean civil war going on right now within the permanent structures and institutions of the American state, undoubtedly the most serious of its kind since the days of Kennedy, if not Lincoln. The ship of state is at war with itself, surely something massive is at hand, by which I mean something on the scale of 9/11. Only such an event will determine who will obtain full mastery of this gargantuan nuclear-armed vessel that currently seems to the entire world so chaotically adrift.

  25. I’m just a little ol’ Classics/ancient historian prof at a small college, but I’ll stick my neck out with a prediction. I don’t see how this presidency survives beyond a few months if it does not find its sea-legs. If we can dodge a bullet and end up with the despicable Pence, alright (okay, not really alright).

    But we are running out the clock: will this presidency end before a war/Reichstag Fire? If it does we might yet dodge a bullet. If not, we are done – but I think, too, that such “success” on the part of the GOP will also, ultimately, be its end – at least in the long term. Short term? Lots of suffering. Lots.

    • A Pence presidency under these conditions would be as much a lame duck as Gerald Ford’s. And the GOP Congress would face the immeasurable wrath of the Trump racist cult, much of which, after all, only became Republican due to the Southern Strategy.

      All of which is why they will stall and hope that the country merely falling apart in the paralysis doesn’t bother their supporters too much. After all, they’ve voted repeatedly for the country to fall apart in every practicable way. The problem is, they don’t want paralysis, they want a radical reversion to our barbaric past. If wrecking the Federal government looks like the fastest way to do that in this very nanosecond, they will grasp at that. If empowering the Federal government under a fascist looks like the fastest way, they will grasp at that.

  26. Ummm. It’s pretty clear at this late date that the Republicans would be happy to install Putin as president provided he cut social programs, gave them tax cuts, and killed off a few media types who dared, umm, commit acts of journalism.

    Red scare? Maybe. I don’t want to be enemies with Russia.

    But I don’t want to be a sucker either. With the Orange Menace or Putin in charge, you can’t avoid it (i.e., suckerdome!).

    • What’s strange is the resistance of the left and the right to accept the fact that Russia is no longer Red. Putin is a right-wing dictator who exploits flat taxes and homophobia. In other words, he’s very much like the sort of dictators the US has traditionally aided in the Global South. The right is, as usual, faster in being indoctrinated to embrace this strange new bedfellow. But why does the left support a Pinochet?

      Answer: they never really had a problem with the juntas except that they were pro-American. An anti-American right-winger was just a hypothetical thought problem then. Now, we have one as a test case. Putin was falsely thought a socialist like Gaddafi or Assad; no one believes that now, but it has not diminished his original fan club in the US much. A much larger, scarier fan club is now forming of all the obedient Republicans – strikingly, far more common among the rank & file than among the leadership.

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