William Lloyd

Supporters have routinely justified Donald Trump’s most outrageous behavior as “just Trump being Trump.” 

That excuse is no longer acceptable.

According to the U.S. intelligence agencies and the Mueller Report, agents of the Russian government stole Democratic Party emails and released them throughout the 2016 campaign in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump. Russian agents also planted misinformation on social media in order to boost Trump’s chances.

As president, Trump could have led the fight to prevent future Russian meddling. 

Instead, he has repeatedly questioned whether Russia was really the culprit. He has even promoted the conspiracy theory that Ukrainians (rather than Russians) hacked the Democrats’ computers.

Trump argues that the charges against Russia stem from an improper investigation of him launched by President Barack Obama, the FBI and the intelligence agencies in the hope of electing Clinton. However, if the goal really was to defeat Trump (as he contends), it is hard to understand why the FBI wrecked Clinton’s chances by publicly reopening its probe of her in the campaign’s closing days but did not tell the voters before the election that Trump himself was also under scrutiny.

Although Trump insists that his July 2019 telephone call with the new Ukrainian president was “perfect,” the White House summary of the call tells a different tale. When the Ukrainian president raised the subject of military aid to help Ukraine better resist Russian aggression, Trump asked for a “favor”: first, an investigation of his claim that Ukraine interfered in our 2016 election and, second, a search for evidence that, as vice president in 2015, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor in order to protect Biden’s son, Hunter, who was then on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

In subsequent televised remarks, Trump branded the Bidens as “stone cold crooked,” again asked Ukraine to investigate them, and added a request for China to do the same.

Contrary to the Trump narrative, Vice President Biden was acting in 2015 at the behest of the Obama administration, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund because of a widespread belief that the prosecutor himself was corrupt.

Unfortunately, just as Trump’s own children appear to have done since their father took office, Hunter Biden does appear to have taken advantage of his father’s high governmental position for financial gain. However, there is no evidence that Hunter Biden committed any crime.

The president wants us to believe that, out of all the alleged corruption he could possibly investigate, it is just coincidental that his principal target is the Democrat who has consistently had the biggest lead over him in the polls. 

Such a coincidence is not credible. Therefore, when congressional Republicans defend or trivialize Trump’s invitation for foreign interference in our 2020 election and his smearing of the Bidens, they are setting a precedent for future Democratic presidents to use the same tactics against the GOP.

Furthermore, unless they rein in Trump, congressional Republicans will also be greenlighting future Democratic presidents to pursue a foreign policy that is as impulsive and erratic as his.

Many of us share the president’s skepticism about U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. However, his withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria opened the door for Turkey to attack Kurdish troops who helped us against ISIS. It also increased Russian and Iranian influence in Syria, enabled some ISIS prisoners to escape, and prompted countries around the world to question U.S. commitments.

It is difficult to reconcile Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria with his plans (announced just a few days earlier) to station 2,800 more Americans in Saudi Arabia. 

It is even harder to square his initial order to get out of Syria with his subsequent directive sending some troops back into that country.

It does not require mental health expertise to recognize that there is something wrong with Trump. For example, he has referred to himself several times as “a stable genius.” 

He has described himself as someone with “a very, very large brain.” He has promised retaliation if “in my great and unmatched wisdom,” Turkey goes too far in Syria. He has labeled his Republican critics as “human scum.” Normal people simply do not talk like that.

There is no chance that most Trump supporters will vote Democratic in 2020. 

However, now is the time for them to consider whether Vice President Mike Pence would be a better candidate than Trump – for the good of both the Republican Party and the country. 

 

William Lloyd of Somerset represented Somerset County in the state House of Representatives (1981-1998) and served as the state’s Small Business Advocate (November 2003-October 2011). He writes a monthly column for The Tribune-Democrat. 

Recommended for you