Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The President - As I See Things Now

President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen
Those who read this blog regularly know of my antipathy for the current President. I did not vote for him and still consider him an unprecedented embarrassment to this country. But those same readers also know that I am far from disappointed in most of his policies with respect to the Jewish people and Israel. I am in fact thankful to President Trump for them. Just as a reminder about some of them:

He has warmed up the relationship between White House and the Israeli leadership that turned ice cold during the last administration.

He has granted official US recognition to Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, something I feared might escalate violence. I am happy to say an escalation of violence did not materialize in any significant way. Despite predictions by experienced diplomats and so-called experts on the Arab Israeli conflict to the contrary. And despite actual promises of violence by the Palestinian leadership. And despite near universal condemnation of this declaration.

The President has promised to not only move the US embassy to Israel but to expedite it in time for Israel’s 70th independence day celebration next month.

There is  also his decision to appoint the first observant Jew to represent America as its ambassador to Israel.

And there is his appointment of the magnificent Nikky Haley as America’s ambassador to the UN. Unlike recent UN ambassadors whose support was there but not always enthusiastic and actually deteriorated at the end of the last administration, Haley has been a staunch defender and unabashed supporter.

Last but not least there was the commutation of Shalom Rubashkin’s 27 year prison sentence to time served. After 8 years in prison - it was exactly the right call. One that had not only bi-partisan support in congress, but the support of many respected jurists, nearly all former Attorneys General and some past leaders of the FBI and CIA.

The President’s economic policies have been very beneficial to those of us that are invested in the stock market. Which is especially important to the elderly that rely heavily on their retirement portfolios. Their value has increased substantially ever since he took office just over a year ago. 

While the market has been pretty volatile over the last few weeks when he started talking about imposing tariffs on imported goods (which would increase the production costs of businesses that need to buy those good) the stock market has nonetheless retained its increased value  – much of it resulting from his pro business tax cuts. Not to mention that those tax cuts that have helped lower jobless claims to the lowest level since 1973!

That being said, the President remains a disgusting creature in both his personal life and public life. His many comments disparaging a variety of people – even some of those that supported him is anything but Presidential. He comes off sounding like an adolescent name calling bully. Whose vocabulary is inferior to that of any competent 12 year old.  

His tweets are often personal attacks filled with exaggerations and lies. His now infamous Access Hollywood recording describing how he gets away with all manner sexual misconduct because of his celebrity status illustrates a lack of decency and moral character. The voluminous accusations against him by women who said he sexually abused them are a disgrace. The affairs he is accused of having with a porn star and a Playboy model add mightily to his negative image. 

I am conflicted. Frankly, I can’t wait for the day he is no longer in office. As an American I am so tired of hanging my head in shame at the mere mention of the name ‘Trump’. But at the same I feel grateful for all he has done for Israel – and correcting what I believe was ultimately an injustice to a fellow Jew.

And yet, I happen to agree with him about the Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation. I can’t help but see it as a total witch hunt.

Bob Mueller is recognized as a man of high integrity and is supported on both sides of the political aisle. He was appointed by Assistant Attorney general Rod Rosenstein to investigate whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the election favorably for Trump. And to see if the President is guilty of obstruction of Justice afterwords.

The investigation is nearly a year old and as of this date there has not been any indication that Mueller’s probe has gotten anywhere near getting evidence of ether of those things. There have been some indictments of peripheral people. And there is little doubt that Russian operatives tried to sabotage the election via cyber attacks. But so far none of this has been tied to Trump directly.

It should be noted that Republican members of their own bi-partisan probe found no evidence of collusion or obstruction after closing their investigation.  (Obviously Democrats on the committee had a different take.)

But now that Stephanie Clifford has revealed that she was paid a $130,000 by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael  Cohen, to remain silent about her affair with Trump, Mueller’s investigation has segued into that.  However, since it has absolutely nothing to do with his mandate it was referred to federal investigators see if campaign finance laws were violated. The thinking is that the payment of hush money can be considered a contribution if it was done for purposes of the campaign. Federal investigators immediately sought and got a ‘no knock’ warrant to enter Cohen’s office and residence to seize any documents related to that investigation.

It is as if there is an unofficial conspiracy by Trump's political and personal enemies to find any dirt on Trump that they can. And they are looking under every rock until they find something that sticks. Which to me sounds like a ‘witch hunt’.

I’m sure that many will disagree with me and describe all this as par for the course in any investigation. When a committee comes upon information indicating a possible crime which is not within their purview to investigate, it is their obligation to forward it to those agencies that have that jurisdiction. But it still smells like a witch hunt to me.

I realize that Trump’s political opposition wants desperately to get rid of him. But not necessarily for the same reasons I do. They have a political agenda that the President has been undermining mightily! Much more than any other President of an opposition party in my lifetime.

Much as I would like to see Trump be replaced by Vice President Mike Pence - whose demeanor and behavior would honor this country instead of embarrassing it, I am disgusted by the tactics of using a witch hunt in order to accomplish that. The President may be the most immoral man to ever hold this office. But sad to say being immoral is not a disqualifier. And witch hunts are not a just  means to a just end.