by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
Did you ever see The Sting (1973)?
The Sting is one of the great movies of all time. It stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Newman and Redford devise an extremely elaborate sting to swindle the mob boss out of tons of money without the mob boss knowing that he has been taken. With multiple twists and turns set to fabulous music by Scott Joplin, in the end the good guys (the con men) win the day. Think of The Sting as a more sophisticated version of Ocean’s Eleven. I bring up The Sting because our president, Donald Trump, is a con man. I know you’re not supposed to say that about the president, but I believe the analogy is appropriate.
Con man and Liar
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a con man is someone who tricks people to steal their money. I would like to expand this definition to someone who deceives people for personal gain. This is Donald Trump.
In October, we launched a military raid that successfully took out the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Donald Trump said the leader was “scared out of his mind,” before he was killed. To rub salt in the wound, Trump said al-Baghdadi was whimpering and crying. None of this is true. There is a special forces American raid which cornered the ISIS leader as al-Baghdadi tried to escape through a tunnel. The tunnel was a dead end. Realizing that he could not escape, the ISIS leader ignited his suicide vest, killing himself and his three kids.
Why did Donald Trump just make that up about whimpering and crying? He did it to belittle the fallen ISIS leader. He also did to make himself feel more victorious. Although this can be looked at as another one of Trump’s lies, it is more than that. There are ISIS fighters right now who are looking at Trump’s words as motivation to attack America.
The impeachment process continues to move forward. The Democrats continue to find more and more credible witnesses who, behind closed doors, state that they heard some part of the call between Donald Trump and the leader of the Ukraine. Let’s back up for a second and recap where we are.
Donald Trump called the leader of Ukraine in late July and asked the leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. This is illegal. It is clearly a campaign-finance violation. It is pure and simple graft and corruption, extortion and bribery. (Speaking of corruption, why did China award Ivanka Trump five new trademarks last January while the U.S. was undertaking tense trade talks with the People’s Republic—in addition to the 16 trademarks they gave her a year ago and 18 others earlier in 2018?)
Part of the great deception that Donald Trump is trying to perpetrate on the American people is that there must be a quid pro quo for there to be any illegal activity. This is a deliberate, unmitigated lie. Soliciting foreign help in a domestic election is illegal in and of itself. Period.
But, to make things worse, there was a quid pro quo! Donald Trump intentionally held up military aid for Ukraine—approved and allocated by Congress—while waiting for the newly elected President Zelensky to do Trump a “favor.” Donald Trump wanted Ukraine to make a formal announcement that they were investigating former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Trump wanted to hang a cloud of illegality over his most feared political opponent. This is wrong. This is immoral. This is un-American. This is also against the law.
Hoping something sticks
One of the worst qualities of the con man Donald Trump is that he is a creation of television. He understands the manipulation of people. He’s pretty good at it. His base is very loyal because he is good at manipulation, and they’re happy being manipulated.
Trump’s initial defense about the call to the Ukrainian leader was that as president he can do anything he wants. When it turned out that that this egotistical explanation did not go over well with anyone, he came up with another explanation: the impeachment process was illegitimate. Why? Because Nancy Pelosi had not held a formal impeachment vote.
Of course, when you read the Constitution, there is no delineation of how the House is supposed to run an impeachment process. I suspect, if Nancy Pelosi wanted, she could hold the impeachment process using the Ouija board.
But then a federal judge ruled that the impeachment process was in fact legitimate. It was constitutional. And while Trump searches for another reason to attack the impeachment process, Nancy did hold a vote, which passed by a majority of the House. So now Trump’s supporters in Congress say that because no Republicans voted for the impeachment inquiry, it’s not a legitimate majority vote!
Now, Trump is asking Americans to read the transcript. He even had a section at a recent rally wear “read the transcript” t-shirts. Well when you read the transcript you find out that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden. You also read that military aid would be coming to Ukraine once they began the investigation into Biden. The crime is right there on paper.
Donald Trump, really, really, wants you to believe his shtick. Like every con man, he wants you to keep your eyes on his flapping mouth, so you don’t notice his hands while he deals from the bottom of the deck or picks your pocket. He doesn’t want you to listen to Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff or Eric Swalwell or any of the other Democrats who are laying out facts every night on the nightly news, especially now they’re releasing transcripts of administration officials’ closed-door testimony. He really, really doesn’t want you to watch the live, televised hearings and testimony scheduled for the rest of November.
Please do not believe that Donald Trump only singled out Ukraine for his reelection shenanigans. Throughout October we heard that Donald Trump solicited election help from multiple nations, including China. Now, these are the conversations that I really like to hear.
What did Donald Trump actually say to China? What did he offer? Did he offer to remove all of his worthless tariffs if China played ball with him and started some investigation against the Bidens? I don’t think that there is a loose transcript of this conversation lying around, even on a secure server in the White House. I think that this conversation has been completely deleted like the Nixon tapes.
Trump also sent his Attorney General to do the same thing in Italy! Why would an Attorney General, whose job is to enforce the laws of the United States, travel overseas on a political mission to dig up dirt on whether Biden broke the laws of some other country?
Our president, Donald Trump, is a con man and a criminal. He has refused to turn over his tax returns. This is also illegal: Congress has the right to require the tax returns of any citizen. We can discuss how Donald Trump has thumbed his nose at the emoluments clause of the Constitution. The Trump Hotel in DC has been full of people seeking favors from the president. Trump even announced that the G7 summit, scheduled to be in United States next year, would be held at one of his properties in Florida. It wasn’t until both Democrats and Republicans stood up and said this is wrong that he backed down.
With all the evidence we have seen so far, there is no question that Donald Trump will be impeached. The only question is what further evidence will turn up. Will public opinion turn completely against Donald Trump so that his approval rating drops even lower than it is now?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been uncharacteristically quiet in the last several weeks, is going to have to make a decision on how to present the case in the Senate. How is he going to play it? Will he attack Trump? Will he and the other GOP senators continue to support Trump?
At the periphery of Trauma World is VP Mike Pence. Is he going to be involved and tangled up in the Ukraine scandal? Or is he going to slide by and come out smelling like a rose? Will Rudy Giuliani come out of all of this looking like the worst lawyer in the history of law?
The Honorable Elijah Cummings, a lion in the House representing Baltimore for more than 20 years, has passed. He stood up for the underprivileged and overlooked in our society. His moral clarity will be missed. Yet, through his passing, we got to see another glimpse of Barack Obama. Obama spoke his eulogy and made me cry. I miss his thoughtfulness. I miss his kindness. I miss his humanity. Rest in peace, Elijah.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.