A Rochester friend of mine is a trained historian, a careful reader and researcher, and a political sophisticate. D. has actually read the indictments handed down by the Mueller team against the 12 Russian intelligence officers last spring. D. has come to the conclusion, after reading how deeply the Russian disinformation campaign reached into the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, that both Trump and Pence were illegitimately elected and that both are criminally liable for collusion in the Russian effort. Our system of checks and balances has no way to deal with that reality, so we are in a quandary and heavily dependent on the Mueller report to document what D. and others suspect. The path forward, if that reality is proven, will depend on Congress.
That the Trump campaign was a willing participant in the Russian incursion into our election is evident to D. from the sharp shift in social media messages coming from the Trump campaign in October, after the Russians had gained access to the Democrat’s entire list of 120 million voters likely to support Hillary Clinton. The Trump campaign shifted to align itself with the Russian disinformation campaign.
D.’s change from accepting that the results of the 2016 election were unfortunate but a legitimate reflection of voter preference is echoed by Tom Friedman’s latest opinion piece in the NY Times. Friedman too has changed his thinking, although the piece doesn’t address the 2016 vote that put Trump in office. Rather, Friedman has shifted on what he thinks needs to happen now.
“Up to now I have not favored removing President Trump from office. I felt strongly that it would be best for the country that he leave the way he came in, through the ballot box. But last week was a watershed moment for me, and I think for many Americans, including some Republicans.
It was the moment when you had to ask whether we really can survive two more years of Trump as president, whether this man and his demented behavior — which will get only worse as the Mueller investigation concludes — are going to destabilize our country, our markets, our key institutions and, by extension, the world. And therefore his removal from office now has to be on the table.
I believe that the only responsible choice for the Republican Party today is an intervention with the president that makes clear that if there is not a radical change in how he conducts himself — and I think that is unlikely — the party’s leadership will have no choice but to press for his resignation or join calls for his impeachment.”
Neither D. nor Tom Friedman represent the core group of Trump supporters, and if there is to be a change, Republicans in Congress will have to join the charge. But, like D. and Friedman, I believe Trump’s destabilizing behavior has become so extreme that the business community and the Republican leadership can no longer go forward with their heads in the sand.