Saturday, December 10, 2016

Trump's troika

Trump’s Troika consists of Trump’s business interests in the form of the Trump Organization, Putin and Russia, and the Republicans, specifically Paul Ryan and the Republicans in congress. Here’s my case.

First, consider this update from CBSN.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson being considered for secretary of state

DECEMBER 9, 2016, 4:25 PM| ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who reportedly has close ties to Russia, is emerging as a contender to be Donald Trump’s secretary of state, but the decision has not been made yet. Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson spoke to CBSN about the president-elect’s decision-making process.

Check out Johnson’s video report for more on other candidates for SoS.

Trump, the Russians, and the Republicans

One might wonder about why the WikiLeaks traced to the Russians were so lopsided, focusing on the DNC emails and giving the RNC a complete pass. Really - some superior cyber security at the RNC is not plausible. If the Russian objective was just to delegitimize our election, screwing the RNC would have helped.

The NY Times reports that the RNC was most likely hacked but that the Russians were selective about what they released thus helping Trump win the election: Russia Hacked Republican Committee but Kept Data, U.S. Concludes.

American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

In the months before the election, it was largely documents from Democratic Party systems that were leaked to the public. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russians gave the Democrats’ documents to WikiLeaks.

Moreover, there was evidence reported before the election that Trump and some of his associates had strong ties to Russian organizations. Take, for example, my post on the secreted communication channel between the Trump Organization and the Russian Alfa Bank: Evidence that Trump is The Moskovian Candidate.

Trump Organization and the Republican party

John Cassidy (New Yorker) takes a stab at explaining The political bargain behind Trump’s cabinet of lamentables.

While liberals and Democrats reacted with outrage to Trump’s selection of [Scott] Pruitt [to head EPA], it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Trump had already picked for his cabinet a Vice-President (Mike Pence) who opposed extending equal-rights legislation to gays and lesbians, and who has advocated for privatizing Social Security; an Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) who says that millions of undocumented immigrants will have to “self-deport”; a Health and Human Services Secretary (Tom Price) who has helped lead the congressional campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act; an Education Secretary (Betsy DeVos) who wants the federal government to stop funding public schools; and a Housing and Urban Development Secretary (Ben Carson) who believes public programs such as federally financed housing foster dependency.

Some of Trump’s supporters may have believed they were electing a pragmatic businessman who wouldn’t be restricted by obligations to either party or other powerful interest groups. But he is putting together a cabinet that looks almost exactly like the modern Republican Party: older, white, anti-government, and extremely conservative on virtually every issue. It could have been constructed by the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or one of the other corporate-funded institutes that have helped drag the G.O.P. so far to the right on issues ranging from taxation to environmental regulation to charter schools.

So what’s up with that? Cassidy explains.

My own theory is that Trump is being pragmatic, but not in a policy sense. He’s pragmatically promoting his own interests, which, at this stage, are best served by throwing some large bones to the Republican Party. During the campaign, Trump needed the Party’s support to raise money, identify voters, and get them to the polls. In part, what he is doing now can be seen as payback—but I suspect it is more than that.

The one immediate political danger facing Trump is the possibility of a Republican revolt over his refusal to sell off his businesses and resolve the blatant conflicts of interest he’ll have in the Oval Office. (He has indicated all along that the most he would do is hand over day-to-day control of his companies to members of his family.) With the G.O.P. holding just a two-seat majority in the Senate, it would only take a handful of dissident Republicans to make life very tricky for him. The prospect of ongoing dissent from members of his own party, and maybe even public hearings about his business dealings, would cast a huge shadow over his Inauguration.

What’s the best way to keep today’s Republican Party in line? By setting before it the prospect of repealing Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood, gutting environmental regulations, upending the Paris climate-change agreement, greatly expanding school vouchers and charter schools, crippling the labor movement, further undermining the Voting Rights Act, and, possibly, even privatizing Medicare and Social Security. The deal doesn’t need to be explicit to be clear. The G.O.P. gets its legislative “revolution.” Trump gets to keep his businesses and further enrich himself.

Watch for the Secretary of State nomination. If Tillerson gets it, that would pretty much firm up the Trump Troika.

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