Last night, I finally shook out of the Congressional leadership the reason for their passivity regarding Trump’s malfeasance. They are confident that he is going to destroy his presidency. They want Pence as president, because Pence is a committed partisan of Ryan’s domestic policies. And they want to secure control of Trump’s blue-collar base by blaming the Democrats for the failure of his Administration.
Trump’s attack on Comey undermines the second goal: Comey was the alt-right’s hero for his take-down of Clinton. By attacking Comey, Trump begins the alienation of his base – a base that hates with a purple passion the Washington establishment led by Ryan and McConnell.
And Pence may no longer be a viable president. Currently, the national security community is focused on the possibility of compromat, the use by Russian intelligence services of financial and social relationships to entrap their targets into the commission of treason. The US has its own culture of compromise, though: organized crime. Trump was tutored in business by a lawyer who moved in organized crime circles. Trump’s cabinet selections are almost universally people with ethical clouds in their pasts. Trump has surrounded himself with such people because they are malleable – he can use their history to command their loyalty.
In The Godfather, Michael Corleone aspired to federal office before chaos in the family’s empire force him to assume criminal control. Trump may not have been born into the Mob, but he is a student of its methods. Worse, he may beat back opposition by drawing upon the Mob’s knowledge of transgressions by federal office-holders, in much the same way that Edgar Hoover secured his control of the FBI by threatening politicians with exposure to secrets uncovered by the FBI.
Even if Ryan and McConnell weather the storm of Trump’s self-destruction, when the full story is gathered together by historians, they will emerge as the most craven of the cowards of this ear.