Donald Trump hurtles towards his own doom: James Comey and Russia come back to haunt president

Donald Trump is famously succeeding in bringing about a denouement that was predicted from the day the Americans elected him as, what The Guardian now calls, their Bozo-in-chief: His own impeachment. While the world laughs at Trump and the Americans, Republican lawmakers squirm in their seats and the US security establishment appears to have its collective face permanently buried in its palm, Trump has over the past week been busy eating his own tail and bragging about it on Twitter, leading to questions over his mental fitness to hold the top office in the land.

As Trump proves critics and sceptics right, the question now in the US is not whether he will survive a full term, but how best to get rid of this petulant baby who has accidentally been catapulted into the hot seat. Should it be impeachment or just summary removal by the vice-president and other Cabinet colleagues, the US commentariat is now musing.

Over the past week that began with the sacking of the now-former FBI chief James Comey, Trump has hurtled from one scandal to other, each more egregious than the other. A series of exposés — some of them confirmed by Trump himself — by the media has ensured his presidency looks like a plane with failed engines, an incompetent pilot and no parachutes.

The floodgates opened with Trump's sacking of Comey, who was investigating the president's links with Russia. The top investigator was sacked just days after he told a Senate committee about the bureau's investigation into Russian meddling in the election that helped Trump beat Hillary Clinton. Trump's dismissal of Comey is being widely seen as an attempt to stall investigations, obstruct justice, attack the independence of a haloed institution and use of the presidential office for personal benefit.

This was followed by Trump's decision to pass on classified intel to Russia about an Islamic State plan to use electronic devices to blow up planes. US lawmakers argue that Trump not only violated the oath of secrecy but also compromised intel sources by leaking the information from his own mouth to a country that is seen as meddling in US affairs. More importantly, the intel had come from a US ally — most likely Israel — that had reportedly shared it with the rider that it must not be passed on further.

When The Washington Post broke the story, the White House trotted out several key officials to deny the charge. But Trump himself came out flying close to the sun on Twitter, claiming it was his 'absolute right' to share information with Russia on humanitarian grounds and to formulate a better joint strategy against the Islamic State. But, US experts argue that his indiscretions have compromised US strategy in the Middleeast, made allies distrustful and angered the intelligence community that may now hit Trump with series of exposes.

 Donald Trump hurtles towards his own doom: James Comey and Russia come back to haunt president

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

"Trump is the most unpatriotically reckless, most flamboyantly ignorant, most ludicrously incompetent of them all. Never mind The Apprentice, he’s actually The Biggest Loser," The Guardian wrote in a scathing critique, calling Trump too needy to be the US president.

There was more to come.

On Tuesday, The New York Times dropped another bombshell on the president when it revealed that Trump had indeed asked the Comey to go slow on investigations into links between his associates and Russia. Trump asked Comey to shut down the federal investigation into former national security advisor Michael T Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Comey wrote shortly after the meeting, the newspaper reported.

"I hope you can let this go," the president told Mr Comey, according to the memo quoted by The New York Times.

The latest charge of obstructing justice against Trump, verified by other sources but denied by the White House, puts him on par with two other presidents — Richard Nixon — a wag though quipped that even that crook was not loyal to the Russians — and Bill Clinton. Both of them were charged with a similar offence. While Clinton was impeached for it, Nixon quit while an inquiry was on.

Many experts now believe that Trump is unfit to be the president. He is being compared to a child "who blurts out classified information in order to impress distinguished visitors, who asks the head of the FBI why the rules cannot be suspended for his friend and ally, who does not understand the obvious consequences of his more vindictive actions — like firing the very same man whom you had asked to potentially obstruct justice on your say-so."

"A child cannot be president. I love my children; they cannot have the nuclear codes," writes The New York Times.

Trump rode into the White House on a wave of xenophobia, fear-mongering, misogyny, helped by blatant boasts and brags. But his time may be over because of a variety of reasons.

First, his popularity is alarmingly low for a president just into his fourth month.

Second, elections in France and neighbouring countries show Europe is beating back the right-wing, exposing xenophobia, Islamophobia and Trump-esque nationalism as flawed ideas. With Europe embracing multi-culturism, syncretism and liberal borders, the Americans have been forced to see the gaping holes in their mindsets that allowed Trump to sneak in.

Third, even his own party is worried about the impact Trump may have on the country and the electoral fortunes of the Republicans; many are making frenetic efforts to distance themselves from his decisions. The question now is, as a reader pointed out to The New York Times, if the Democrats would summon the courage to do what the country wants — get him sacked.

Although the clamour for his removal is rising, Trump may still hold on to the wings of his crashing presidency. Impeaching a president is a tedious process and unless the Republicans, who have the numbers, decide to throw him out, Trump may continue to entertain the world from his high office.

There is just one hope though: That he continues to have his Twitter login and loud mouth.

Updated Date: May 17, 2017 13:00:23 IST