Trump and his team: Clear and present danger to the Republic

It became clearer than ever last night that the nation is on the verge of a constitutional crisis.

The Justice Department’s criminal division has now identified Dmytro Firtash as a high-level international organized crime figure who uses the shady Alfa Bank in Russia for his “business” deals.

Firtash was a business partner of Paul Manafort at the time Manafort took on the job of managing Trump’s 2016 campaign. We already knew for weeks that Manafort owed $17 million to several oligarchs who run in the same circles as Firtash.

Trump’s new nominee to head the criminal division of the Justice Department is Brian Benczkowski. Benczkowski worked for Alfa Bank until the day before Trump nominated him for that job, a job once held by Robert Mueller, the special counsel now investigating the president.

Firtash and Manafort were involved in a high-priced real estate deal in New York to purchase and renovate the Drake Hotel. In short, Trump, who said he would “clear the swamp,” is, with his administration and associates, sloshing around in that swamp.

Trump is now reportedly exploring options to sack Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he has repeatedly criticized over the last several days because Sessions is not defending him in the Russia investigations. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia probe because he was a Trump campaign surrogate.

The Washington Post reported last night that Trump is discussing with his aides plans to fire Sessions and replace him during the Senate recess so that his replacement does not have to be confirmed by the Senate. The next possible step would be to have Sessions’ replacement fire the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, Robert Mueller, and derail any investigations into Trump finances.

The problem Trump will have with executing any possible plan to sink Jeff Sessions, however, is that the extreme right – including the Pat Buchanans, Anne Coulters, and Rush Limbaughs – love Sessions because he is implementing so effectively the president’s anti-immigrant and racist “crime fighting” agendas.

Trump tried to ameliorate that problem over the last two days by throwing red meat to the right-wing fringe of his base. One chunk of that meat was the announcement via tweets that he was banning transgender individuals from the military. The other was a speech in which he said he was stepping up deportation of “these animals” who use machetes, not guns to slice and dice our women so they die slow painful deaths. “They don’t use guns,” Trump said, “because they want to cause as much pain as possible before their victims die.”

Meanwhile, he continued yesterday his support for what is likely the most undemocratic legislative coup in history. Trump and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell had a secret plan all along to take health care away from millions and give tax cuts to the rich. They knew all along that there is little popular support for Trumpcare and that millions are in fear today that their health care will be lost.

So now the Senate is being presented with a laundry list of “skinny repeal” options, just so the Senate can pass something.

First, all the skinny repeal options will kick millions off healthcare almost immediately. Second, the idea is to send anything, anything at all, to the House so that there can be a conference to meld the two bills – essentially a complete collapse of Senate responsibility and a cave-in to accept almost wholesale the horrific House bill and rush it to Trump for his signature. It’s nothing less than a secret legislative coup, unprecedented in American history.

Senate leaders are willing to keep in place a president who profits from deals with and works with international gangsters so they can ram through a bill that could kill millions of Americans in order to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Protests are raging across America today and will sweep all major American cities on Friday. The resistance is strong. It is time though for Congress to rise up and reign in an outlaw president.

Republicans are finally speaking up now that Trump is going after Jeff Sessions, a right-winger who is pushing his own hateful agenda. The thing they should be drawing a red line on, however, is the planned firing of Robert Mueller.

There is one way the entire Congress can stand up against the outlaw president. The Congress can set up a special prosecutor’s office out of the reach of the president and accountable to the people, not to Trump. The Congress can give that job to Mueller or to anyone else, thereby protecting the nation against a president who should not be in office.

To the entire Congress of the United States: The people are in the streets and in the Capitol and at the doors of your offices doing their job. Now its time for you to do yours.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.