His supporters will deny it, but Donald Trump is a national embarrassment. The rest of the world is looking at the United States like a disturbing version of reality TV with nuclear weapons, led by someone who’s incompetent, emotionally unstable, and mentally unhinged. It’s embarrassing to know that a big part of the day for other world leaders is getting updates on the irrational Twitter behavior of the person living in charge of the United States.
Except that’s the reality in which we’re currently living.
All things considered, I think Trump’s outrageous Twitter meltdown yesterday might be the true beginning of the end of his administration. It’s one thing for him to push conspiracies about voter fraud, but it’s quite another to publicly accuse a former President of the United States of illegally monitoring a presidential candidate during an election. Especially when his rant seems tied to a Breitbart article which was based on comments from conspiracy theorist Mark Levin, who accused Barack Obama of being part of a “coup” attempt against Trump.
That’s a big deal. But here’s why I think this could very well be the beginning of the end:
1. If Trump truly believes this, he must immediately order investigations into this matter or admit he’s incompetent and pushed a conspiracy that wasn’t true: What Trump did on Saturday was endorse a radical conspiracy that accuses Obama of being the mastermind of a diabolical (and highly illegal) shadow government. As the leader of this country, if he believes that’s true, then he must order extensive investigations into these extremely serious accusations. Otherwise, he needs to admit that he fell for a ridiculous, fact-less conspiracy and his incompetence makes him unfit for office.
What he can’t do is continue to make this claim, but do nothing about it.
2. You’re seeing more Republicans speaking out against Trump: The one benefit Trump’s had thus far has been the cowardly reluctance by many members of his own party, especially those in Congress, to speak out against him. However, we’re now seeing more members of the GOP doing just that. I think he’s finally reached a point where we’re going to see an increased number of Republicans realizing that defending him is a lost cause.
3. He’s forced Congress to do something after they’ve spent weeks trying to avoid doing anything: Because many of the Russia-related allegations against Trump have been based on media reports, congressional Republicans have mostly been able to side-step calls to hold investigations into whether or not he might have committed treason.
They can’t do that now.
This isn’t Trump fabricating conspiracies about his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton. Saturday’s Twitter tantrum was the President of the United States publicly endorsing a conspiracy that claims Barack Obama illegally bypassed the FISA court, unilaterally ordering surveillance of Trump Tower. If true, this demands investigations unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Everyone in Obama’s administration, the Justice Department, CIA, NSA, FBI — they’d all have to be investigated. We would need to know who carried out an illegal order, who covered it up, and who could still be “working for Obama.”
Which means congressional Republicans can’t dismiss this as a “Democrat witch hunt.” This was their party’s leader publicly accusing a former president of a crime bigger than Watergate. If Republicans brush this off like they did his conspiracy about “millions of illegal votes,” then they’re admitting he’s lying and is a national disgrace for trying to blatantly slander his predecessor.
Trump has put members of his party in the position to either side with him on this outrageous lie, or publicly admit that he’s a crazy person who believes Internet conspiracies from sources that aren’t remotely credible.
Either way, they now have to do something, and I believe more than just a few are going to realize that supporting Trump is a sinking ship that’s no longer worth trying to keep afloat.
4. If this does lead to an investigation, a lot of the information relating to Trump’s ties to Russia — including his tax returns — could become public knowledge: Any push for an investigation into Trump’s attack on Obama would certainly lead to a record number of subpoenas. This would ultimately require people to testify, publicly, about what evidence they have that Trump or his associates have ties to Russia. This could lead to a court-order requiring Trump to turn over tax documents if there’s evidence (as some have alleged) that Putin has compromised him by using financial leverage as blackmail.
Once you go down the path of investigations, it’s not a one-sided affair. Donald Trump won’t be able to control most of the information that would be made public, nor could he block judicial orders with which he doesn’t want to comply.
If this is the rabbit hole he wants to go down, then I don’t think he’s going to like where it ends up.
5. If Trump’s rant is based on actual surveillance of people associated with him, he just publicly confirmed a FISA court was presented with enough evidence to approve the warrant: For the sake of argument, let’s say Trump’s rant was based on his misunderstanding of the legalities concerning a legitimate warrant approving the surveillance of Trump Tower. The only way for that to have occurred (without the illegal act of Barack Obama personally ordering it), would have been for U.S. intelligence officials to present the FISA court with credible enough evidence to issue the warrant to “bug” Trump Tower.
It’s very possible that this surveillance could have taken place. However, because Trump’s too ignorant to know that it was carried out legally by way of a FISA court-approved warrant, his rant essentially confirms that there are on-going investigations into whether or not there was collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.
Nothing like spending months calling any allegations that his campaign has ties to Russia “fake news,” to then confirm the legitimacy of these investigations because you’re naive enough to buy into a conspiracy concerning legal U.S. intelligence surveillance.
While this is obviously a story that’s not going away any time soon, Donald Trump’s rant on Saturday might be the first real sign that the end of his administration is near.