Right now it is Thursday January 12, a week before the Inauguration, and as always interesting things are going on with Donald Trump.
I am referring to this report about Donald Trump and Russia. A summary was released to the public. A similar summary was presented to President Obama, Vice President Biden, President-elect Trump and six members of Congress from both parties last week. But then the full 35-page report leaked.
The public will either want to read the whole report or not want to read it, and for those that do, it can be read because a small news website posted it and there are no internet police to tell them to take it down.
An irony of all this is that Mr. Trump asked the media not to reveal this “fake news,” and in fact everybody but this one media outlet complied. No more fake news trumpeted onto the front page for us anymore. That went out the window after the media trumpeted that Mrs. Clinton was part of a child pornography ring operating out of a pizza store in Washington, and that she was somehow involved in the deaths of about six people—all of whom were named—who were friends of hers and died after they met her. I even saw a site say she was feeding her emails to the Russians bit by bit. So no more fake news, please. It’s a new day. Trump is about to be President.
But let’s look at this logically. There are two possibilities. One is that this is all made up and is “fake news.” The other is that it is true. And if it is true, then Trump has been lovey-dovey with Russia for fear they might expose him for the dastardly things they have evidence he did in a Russian hotel room with two blah blah blah.
That this got shown to the President, the President-elect and the Congress was one brilliant maneuver.
Whether any of it is true or not is almost irrelevant. Although there is this: A Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen—sorry about that, I mentioned a name in the report—says he never set foot in Prague or anywhere else in the Czech Republic at any time in the month of August 2016, which this report claims he did, to meet with high Russian official Konstantin Kosachev, presumably about Russia’s Elect Trump campaign. So we have that. It’s false. Not true. I think.
But with the report out now, the Russians can no longer blackmail Trump. Trump is out of the woods. If he did it, he doesn’t have to care what Russia says. And if he didn’t do it, he doesn’t have to care what Russia says.
Interestingly, for the first time, he has said yes indeed the Russians hacked into our election. Bravo.
As for Congress, the logic now goes to two more questions, both of which lead to things being just fine.
One is that Congress can choose to investigate Mr. Trump, and if they find he colluded with the Russians and/or did dastardly things in a hotel room, they could vote to impeach him.
This stuff happens when you are President, and the threat of impeachment is something to be feared. It happened to Nixon, who resigned rather than go through that process. And it happened to Clinton, who said “I never had sex with that woman” but then somehow survived the impeachment. Congress voted it in his favor.
Another thing that could happen is that Congress investigates Mr. Trump and comes up empty. They then apologize to him and move on.
Not investigating Mr. Trump, however, is the winning option. With that, we never know. This leaves Trump with the only option left, which is to treat Russia—within the framework that it would be nice to be working with Russia—in a proper wait-and-see manner, without all the lovey-dovey stuff about Putin we’ve had until now. Heaping praise on Putin now would be seen as almost an admission that Trump is Putin’s employee of the month. Trump is not going to do that. Wait a minute, NOT doing that could be an admission that he did it.
It is interesting to note that today we would not be dealing with President-elect Trump at all if Hillary Clinton’s people had revealed this dastardly unproven bit of dirt—which had been available to them for months. Had she released it somewhere between the stuff about killing her friends and running a child pornography scheme out of a pizza parlor, it would be she who would be President-elect.
In some ways, I think Mr. Trump is in a political thicket he is unfamiliar with. He knows negotiations and bossing people around and getting things done and remembering, always, who your friends are and who your enemies are. Trump can remember someone who did him wrong 25 years ago. He really can. Anyway, it’s okay for Hillary that she got caught up with fake news. Different rules apply when it applies to him.
Mr. Obama now says, and I agree with him, everything that happens with Mr. Trump from here on is something we should feel good about helping him with. He will be President next week. If he succeeds, we all succeed.
There is no doubt that Mr. Trump has assembled an entire proposed cabinet of smart, powerful, conservative businessmen and military people, some of whom are good, some of whom mean well but aren’t, and some of whom are bad. Nevertheless, they are almost all movers and shakers, and there is surely work to be done in America that has not been done during the last eight years regarding business, jobs and health care. Trump’s businessmen and women can fix things, if anybody can.
I was fearful of Trump for a long time. I thought if he got elected he would repeal our freedoms and be a tyrant. I still think he might do that. But on the other hand, I think he means well. We will soon see what’s what.
I met with Mr. Trump in Trump Tower once. It was arranged by the late New York City mover and shaker Jerry Finkelstein, who knew Mr. Trump well and thought I should meet him since he was such a big force in New York real estate. I could sell him an ad in Dan’s Papers. So, with an appointment, I went up to his office and talked to him. This was about 1994. I don’t know if he remembers me. I recall that as we talked, he would frequently stop to take a phone call or just think of something and call out “Norma!” real loud so that Norma, his longtime secretary, would hear him and come in and get a quick take on what he wanted her to do and then leave. Then it was back to me. He did that without getting off track about what we were talking about.
Years later, I sent him a letter asking if he could send me a note with a few lines saying what he thought of Dan’s Papers, and he complied. It’s on the dustcover of my book In the Hamptons, which Random House published in 2008, along with quotes from Edward Albee, Tom Wolfe and Billy Joel. Thank you, sir. As a little local guy, this is my Mount Rushmore: Joel, Albee, Wolfe and Trump.
I will say, though, that if he gets way out of control and fires everybody who disagrees with him and says that facts are only facts if he says they are, then we’ll all be in trouble, including him.
Hope it doesn’t come to that.
You know what? You can’t make this stuff up. Oh wait. Yes, you can.