House of Trump
The American political scene will soon resemble the hit television series “House of Cards,” as revelations of contacts and deals between Donald Trump’s election campaign and others keep coming in. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is moving ahead with his investigation and has set his sights on the president’s relations and close associates. The Republican Party leadership is at a loss and time is running out for Congress to vote on any important legislation promised by Trump before the elections. The American “system,” however, is protected by its checks, balances and antibodies. For example, it is impressive to see how it is trying to shield Vice President Mike Pence and keep him out of the whirlwind of revelations. Pence is considered very conservative, perhaps even extreme, on certain issues, but he is predictable. He has undertaken the de facto management of many issues of national security, which explains his recent telephone conversation with the Greek prime minister. Pence is close to the team of “grown-ups” who run American foreign policy and is playing an important role. As one Washington observer noted of Pence, “you can get a clear, tangible answer from him.” When Trump raised doubts regarding his devotion to NATO, it was Pence who went to the Munich security conference to reassure the European elite. The vice president seems to sense the possibility that he may be called on to replace Trump in case of an “accident.” That is obviously why he spends so much time raising money from traditional backers of the Republican Party. It is, of course, very early to talk of a possible “accident.” The special counsel’s investigation will take months. The Republicans’ insecurity will come to a head just before the congressional elections in November 2018. That is when the president will be abandoned, if he has become toxic by then. As regards us here in Athens, the excessive unpredictability and domestic crisis in Washington raises serious obstacles to finding high-level people to talk with. The bureaucracy is doing its job and Greece, as well as Cyprus, is on the radar. On crucial issues, however, it is most likely that others and not the president will play a decisive role. As we noted, what is happening in the US capital is unprecedented and resembles a television series rather than reality. This is why from Athens to Berlin and Beijing everyone is wondering who is actually running things in Washington.