The Art Of Hampering A President

 

*A 12-Count Indictment

*Requirements to post $10 million and $5 million-dollar bonds

*House Arrests

*Pleas of Not Guilty

Quite a Monday for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, wouldn’t you say?

And yet, I sense the best is yet to come.

The thing about such comprehensive major investigations like the one Robert Mueller is conducting is that once the first indictments are announced, you are guaranteed to see bit-players come out of the woodwork, trying to make deals while deals can still be made – and before the next wave of indictments are announced.

And so was the case with George Popadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to Donald Trump.  His arrest came early on – in July of 2017 — and it was only in October of 2017 that he finally plead guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI during their investigation of Russian meddling in US politics.

So, the question begs itself, what information has Popadopoulos imparted of his own free will in the three months that has passed since July?  To what extent did he have knowledge and opportunity that could lead to further substantiating evidence of Russia’s interference with our election process? Clearly, the evidence shows that the interest was there, so if there’s smoke, is there fire?

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Trump is publicly fretting that the investigation and its results, will “hamper” his ability to negotiate on a world stage.  To that I say, Mr. President, you have only to look at your own lack of credibility and inability to tell the truth as the cornerstones of your being “hampered” in negotiations – world-wise — or otherwise.

Bring it on, Mr. Mueller.  America is counting on you.

 

When Is A Deal — A Deal?

 

After years of intricate political diplomacy, six countries, Germany, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S., collectively known as P5+1, entered into an agreement with Iran in November of 2013 (and formally adopted in October of 2015) to halt Iran’s march towards nuclear proliferation in the hopes of stabilizing tensions in the Middle East.  Iran, for its side of the bargain, received the lifting of certain economic sanctions that had previously been imposed.  This agreement, however imperfect both at its time of inception and to date, was seen as a compromise, as well as a marked step forward in a region where news headlines daily reflected an area ripe for war.

This agreement did not come without a cost.  Our strongest ally in this region, Israel, objected strenuously to any deal with Iran.  First, because such a deal would, by its very nature, establish a precedence that Iran must now be recognized as a player in the Middle East; that the release of the sanctions would allow Iran to refocus its efforts on constructing more missiles for offensive purposes and provide further backing of the Hezbollah; and allow a larger presence in the Golan Heights, an area deeply divided, both geographically and politically.

However difficult and diplomatically uncomfortable, the P5+1 felt the stronger pull of potential peace in a region where such endeavors are few and far between and which are regularly breached for a variety of reasons.

Today, with Iran’s verifiable compliance, tensions have ebbed between our ally and its neighbor, but that is not to say that Israel has remained silent or is not vigilant.  Rather, Israel’s roles today are comprised of increased intelligence gathering, a strengthening of its defenses, and warnings of any potential violations to the Iranian agreement.

Given our President’s blatant lack of understanding of diplomatic endeavors and international relations, he has stated that he will not “re-certify” the Iranian agreement which is a condition of its existence and demanded every 90 days.  Rather, he has lobbed it to our Congress to revise or re-create a deal with more (as he says) “equitable provisions.”  Congress now is faced with three choices:

(a) Impose additional economic sanctions on Iran, even though they are in compliance with the existing agreement.  This would most certainly result in Iran’s immediate withdrawal from the agreement;

(b) Push for new negotiations which would result in the loss of credibility with other nations with which we have signed agreements (when is a deal a deal?); or

(c) Do nothing and the deal stands.

Even though (c) seems to be the correct answer here, I suggest that a better answer might be for Congress to push back and declare their independence from the Trump administration by standing by an agreement that was made with great difficulty and serves only to provide peace in a highly unstable environment.

And IF Congress could manage to agree and move forward in such an exemplary fashion, it might also consider going one rung higher and inform our President that the criteria for revisiting existing agreements should be for compelling reasons, and not just because it was conceived or executed under the previous administration.

Or, as an alternative, my fellow Congressmen and women, there’s always the 25th Amendment.  At this point, it would hardly be a stretch …. more like a slam-dunk, wouldn’t you say?