House of Trump

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

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.

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