In case you have not seen it yet, here is Nancy Pelosi's response
to that instantly-infamous letter from White House counsel Lionel Hutz. That letter -- overflowing with obvious Trumpisms -- bears no resemblance to the kind of writing we might expect from someone with a law degree. I was reminded of that 2016 testimonial to Trump's remarkable health -- a letter ostensibly written Trump's physician, Dr. Nick Riviera.
(Have I mis-recalled the names? Sorry.)
Today, Turkey launched a Blitzkrieg against our Kurdish allies. It's a disaster, and Trump made it happen. Why?
Teevee talking heads have fixated on the theory that Trump can be turned round by the last person with whom he has spoken -- in this case, Erdogan. Trump is indeed impulsive, but he also has a reptilian survival instinct, and this insane decision doesn't help him in any way. A talking head on MSNBC said of Trump's betrayal: "This isn't a quid pro quo. It's more like a quid pro no
." Trump -- the ultimate transactional president -- got nothing
. So why did he do it?
Some say that Trump was bribed by way of his twin towers in Istanbul
The problem with the bribery theory is that the towers are not really his. They belong to a Turkish developer who was allowed to slap the Trump name on the structures in exchange for a rather small annual fee. The estimates I've read range from $100,000 a year to $5 million a year. Not a lot of money, if Trump really is the billionaire he claims to be. (Many would say he is not.)
However, that real estate deal could
provide an excellent mechanism to hide a more substantial cash transfer in the future. So we cannot dismiss the bribery theory.
But it doesn't sit well with me.
What bugs me is the timing. Why did this happen now
? Trump knows full well that screwing the Kurds damages his relationship with important Republican leaders at a time when he needs those leaders on his side. Remember, Trump tried to sell out the Kurds on a previous occasion, but cooler heads talked him out of it. He knew the consequences.
It looks to me as though Erdogan gave an order, and that Trump obeyed it.
Two questions: 1. What power could Erdogan have over Trump? 2. If Erdogan does indeed possess a "Trump" card, why play it now
Let's look at the latter question first.
I think impeachment affected the timing: Erdogan fears that Trump may not be there much longer. It is easy to visualize Trump giving gave him all sorts of reassurances -- "Don't worry, dude; I have
this." But such words would not have placated the Turkish leader. From Erdogan's point of view, it's now or never: This is his great opportunity to destroy the Kurdish fighters and take over a huge chunk of Syria.
So we return to the question of the "Trump" card. If
my suspicion is right -- if Erdogan told him "Do what I want or else" -- what might "or else" mean in this context?
I don't pretend to be able to prove what I'm about to say. The word "theory" is right there in the headline, so don't say you weren't warned. But...hear me out.
For a couple of years now, I have privately concluded that the
great secret of the Trump era is election rigging. Most people didn't pay much attention to the evidence of rigged tallies in Wisconsin and Michigan in 2016 -- in fact, Brad Friedman was the only reporter who looked into the question properly.
The hard fact is that there were precincts where the vote count exceeded the number of voters. Trump's lawyers prevented the forensic examination of tabulation machines -- an investigation which Team Trump would have welcomed, if the tabulation were honest. We know that Russia hacked into firms which make computerized election equipment and state voting databases.
John Brennan has voiced strong suspicion that the Russians directly manipulated the 2016 vote in America, as they have done in other countries, including Russia herself.
More than that: We have to consider the question of historical vote rigging over the past twenty years (at least).
Trump's longtime friend, Roger Stone, is someone who would know all about the covert history of vote rigging. Say what you will about Stone: He has an undeniable expertise in the dark arts, and he has always been very plugged in to the ratfucker underworld. In this classic 2014 series on Stone
(which I believe was written by Ryan Lizza), we learn of the five key methods used by Stone to commandeer elections. Here's number 5:
The fifth is vote suppression, of black and latino voters, who tend to poll democrat. The first four have been employed in elections that Stone has been involved in, with Stone often taking credit. The fifth has been employed alongside Stone’s efforts, though perhaps without the collusion of Stone.
Vote suppression -- through caging and allied tactics -- is quite real, and quite deadly to democracy. But I have long argued that the real
crime is actual manipulation of the voting tabulation machines.
Rigging is the
great unmentionable. If that dark truth became known, the nation would enter a period of unparalleled turmoil. Judges appointed by illegitimate presidents may have to be replaced. The GOP could end. God only knows who would go to jail.
This unspeakable Big Secret is, I feel, the real
reason why Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and so many other Republicans have kissed Trump's ring, even though they obviously can't stand the guy. If Trump goes down, he brings the GOP down with him.
Many argue that Trump controls Republicans through the threat that he might back a primary challenger to a sitting member of Congress. That can't be the explanation in all
situations. (Look at Romney.) Besides, this theory does not explain why Ryan and other retired congressfolk remain silent about Trump's many obvious flaws.
I posit that Trump keeps the GOP in line by threatening to reveal the Big Secret.
I further posit that Russia hacked the vote in key areas in 2016. Putin knows the Big Secret -- which gives Putin the ability to tell Trump what to do.
posit that Putin, for geopolitical reasons of his own, whispered this Secret into Erdogan's ear.
That's the Trump card.