One has to wonder whether President Trump’s series of foolish and possibly criminal actions have been done thoughtlessly or purposely to demonstrate his power and ability to survive situations that would take down any other president. In reality, however, he has been engaged in a slow act of self-immolation, destroying himself and any chance he might have had to make a positive impact on history. If the Republicans did not control both Houses of Congress, an independent investigation commission would have been at work earlier, trying to dissect all of Trump’s pre-and post-election activities that may have been illegal and even possibly treasonous.

The contact of his campaign aides with Russian operatives prior to the election should have been enough to warrant a non-partisan special inquiry, especially with the hacking of Democratic Party emails and the release of data to the public at times that would benefit the Trump campaign. His love-fest with Putin, an American adversary was also suspicious, along with Trump’s denigration of America’s intelligence agencies. How can a president possibly work successfully without the nation’s intelligence agencies on board?

His hiring of Michael Flynn as his security advisor despite warnings from President Obama and Flynn’s contact with the Russians, then the abrupt firing of Flynn also raised suspicions that something was not quite right. And there was the three week hiatus when Trump was told about Flynn’s lies by Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates and the actual firing of Flynn that raised more questions. And why did Trump fire Yates, a career official at the Justice Department.

The more recent firing of James Comey as head of the FBI to thwart the inquiry into Trump’s Russian associations was an act of desperation. Trump had to know that getting rid of Comey would have political repercussions, but he did it anyway, trying to blunt the FBI hunt for answers to the puzzle of Trump and the Russians. (Trump is treating the presidency as a long episode of The Apprentice with his frequent firings and hirings.)

There are so many questions that need to be answered by the investigation that will soon be started. What were Trump’s long term relations with the Russians? Did he have financial ties with some of the oligarchs related to his real estate deals and was he indebted to them in some ways? The release of Trump’s tax returns might have revealed answers, but these have remained hidden from the public eye in spite of Trump’s promises on several occasions that he would release them.

Do the Russians have any embarrassing photos or videos of Trump and his penchant for attractive women? Do they have any information that they could blackmail him with? Was the release of damaging data regarding Hillary coordinated with Trump’s associates and known to Trump? Why has he been so adamant about keeping his tax returns secret?

No matter what power the Russians have over Trump, the great dealmaker has not played his hand well. He keeps putting his foot in his mouth and pouring more gasoline on himself simultaneously, a difficult feat. The markets have told us that this is serious stuff from which Trump may not be able to extricate himself. When Trump said there was more news coverage of him than of 9/11, he was not kidding. It seems like he’s doing everything possible to keep the world’s attention focused on him.

With the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, some answers may be forthcoming. Trump’s firing of James Comey may have backfired adding to his immolation.

Resurrecting Democracy

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ROBERT A. LEVINE, TMV Columnist
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