Opinion | Muftic: Trump’s lies, autocratic tries, and Russian ties
January 16, 2019
Trump's lies, autocratic tries, and Russian ties have not seemed to bother his core supporters and the overwhelming majority of Republicans still stand by their man. Per Jan. 10-11 polls, Trump's job approval stands little changed at around 37-40 percent, but those disapproving, especially independents , increased their numbers since December, reflecting the government shutdown. Time will tell whether that dip is temporary or permanent. Even constant fact checking of Trump's lies and untruths have not made a dent in his core supporters. Circumstances are about to change with Democrats gaining a majority in the House of Representatives and his lies and ties could finally catch up with him.
There has been talk of impeachment, but if the Nixon/Watergate pattern is followed, it will take a greater shift of public opinion against Trump than what is revealed in the polls now. Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment when public approval dropped to 31 percent and Senators saw it was no longer in their political interest to keep him in office. What finally caused the shift in the polls from a high job approval rating and re-election was Nixon's White House attorney John Dean's mea culpa testimony before Congress and the release of the incriminating, smoking gun tapes of Oval Office conversations.
Until now, a compliant GOP controlled Congress had buried exploring negatives that would have hurt the President. The midterms were a revolt by over 53 percent of voters who were indeed bothered enough by some of his shortcomings to flip the House blue and check his power. Trump had attacked our democratic institutions, stacking the courts with supporters, using executive orders and threatening to call a national emergency when none exists in order to thwart Congressional opposition to his demands. What the House Democrats will do with subpoena powers and publicly televised hearings could result in game changing opinion polls Trump's personal lawyer who is on his way to prison will testify to Congress in open hearings. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to present his report the Justice Department in mid February.
Until then, the ever investigative reporting free press will be the ones raising eyebrows and adding passion to those who oppose him. Last week, the New York Times published an eye opener, that The FBI was so suspicious of Trump's cozy relationship with Russia they launched a counterintelligence investigation into the newly elected President. This was not just a criminal investigation into collusion or conspiracy or a discovery of the means and extent of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Counter intelligence investigations regarding the loyalty of a president to the US have never happened before. Counter intelligence is one of the functions of the FBI. Raising the FBI's suspicion level were Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey and Trump's twice publicly linking it to "that Russian thing." His campaign organization was laced with those with Russian ties and contacts with Russian spies and oligarch friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump's financial dealings and aspirations to build Trump Tower in Moscow, and his stated foreign policy initiatives that supported expansionist Russian goals were in plain sight. The FBI feared he was a Russian asset or an unwitting victim of KGB alum Putin who had something on him or had something to offer him following the outcome of the counter intelligence investigation was the establishment of the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller. Outrage, indignation at the FBI's actions and the leak to the press were the responses from both Trump and his supporters, but they offered no denials or rebuttals to the substance of the FBI counter intelligence probe. Where that counter intelligence investigation stands now will not be known until, if ever, or unless a Mueller report sees the light of day.
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