If Theresa May is ousted, or simply tires of her job as Prime Minister, might she consider emigrating to the United States and joining the Trump administration? For my part, I very much hope she does contemplate it. As big a challenge as Brexit may be, it likely pales in comparison to instilling a sense of purpose in the Trump White House.
So far, Donald Trump has been unable to find anyone capable of imposing order on his chaotic administration, let alone taming his recidivist twitter binges. Just today, the old boy, unprompted, delivered an avalanche of tweets, including the extraordinary announcement that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller, the former longtime director of the FBI and winner of numerous military medals for valor in Vietnam. May has been a lousy prime minister, but her British stiff upper lip and sense of personal rectitude might be the very thing that could save the Trump White House before it truly has to start beaming out May Day signals.
After celebrating the president’s 71st birthday on Wednesday, the party has ended quickly for Trump. His White House is going into the bunker. ‘It’s routine. It’s very routine,’ said vice-president Mike Pence today about his retention of personal counsel. Trump’s own longtime lawyer Michael Cohen has now hired a lawyer named Stephen Ryan. Much of the White House staff fears that it will incur onerous bills as Mueller, who has hired 13 attorneys, several of them experts on financial peculation, ramps up his investigation of Trump. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is also in Mueller’s sights. Meanwhile, the only person who seems to have emerged unscathed, even with her reputation enhanced, is Melania, who has unsuccessfully tried to soothe Trump’s sense of aggrievement by explaining that any investigation will ultimate vindicate him—a claim that his own actions suggest he knows may not be entirely reliable. Or has Trump’s own sense of vanity and narcissism prompted him to create a cover-up when there was nothing to conceal?
The notion that Trump will be impeached, however, seems improbable—unless, as is always possible, he goes beserk and fires Mueller. Trump’s surrogates have been steadily trying to blacken Mueller’s name. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who referred to Mueller as ‘superb’ a month ago, denounced him today, claiming that he is the ‘tip of the deep state spear aimed’ at Trump. He also argued that it is impossible for a president to obstruct justice—a remarkable claim since Gingrich himself led the movement to impeach Bill Clinton for obstructing justice in 1998. A slightly more subtle line of defense is the one offered by former Bush administration official Karl Rove. In the Wall Street Journal, Rove suggested that Trump’s conversation with FBI director James Comey about laying off of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn was harmless: ‘His words were vague. A hope is not an order.’ And so on.
One of the effects of the serial Trump scandals has been to create a United States of crazy. The left is starting to become as unhinged as the right. According to the New Republic magazine, ‘the left has begun to rival Trump himself as an incubator for sinister musings and crackpot accusations.’ One of the chief promoters of such lunacy is the former British MP Louise Mensch who apparently believes that Russian agents assassinated Andrew Breitbart to pave the way for Steve Bannon, currently a senior adviser to Trump and the former head of Breitbart. Some of her lucubrations have even been picked up and disseminated by Democratic legislators. This week, a follower of Senator Bernie Sanders shot and wounded Republican congressmen who were practicing in Virginia for a bipartisan baseball game at the Washington Nationals’ stadium. A Facebook post by the shooter read: ‘Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.’
After the shooting, Trump called for national unity, only to begin denouncing his foes a day later. If his tweets today are anything to go by, the partisan war over his presidency isn’t coming to an end. It’s just getting started.