Downfall of Donald Trump?

THERE is a saying that "pride comes before a fall" but in US President Donald Trump's case it is more about his "super arrogance". So if, or rather when, he falls it would be a very hard and heavy one.

In my two recent articles in February about the new US president just after his inauguration, all the signs about his arrogant outlook and politics were already there. Without hesitation, he took on three of the most influential US institutions – the intelligence community, media and the judiciary. This might be his biggest mistake.

Trump made scornful remarks against the intelligence community, before and after the 2016 election, when they came out to reveal that the Russian government directed the cyber-attacks and hacking to interfere with the US election process.

One of his first acts as president confirmed that he was one of the biggest promoters of Islamophobia with his travel ban on seven selected Muslim-majority countries, which was overturned by the judiciary. Even his revised second travel ban was also stopped by the judiciary on legal grounds. He made disparaging remarks against the judges involved and also against the media for portraying him in a bad light.

Then he committed another unfriendly, anti-Muslim and pro-Israeli act, when during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Feb 15, he criticised the UN-sponsored Middle East peace conference in Paris in January, dismissed the two-state solution (which the Palestinians have already compromised much for the sake of peace) and only pleaded gently with the Israeli prime minister instead of condemning him on the illegal settlements (more like daylight robbery) by Israelis on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Only last month, a UN agency came out with a report accusing Israel for practising apartheid against the Palestinian people.

The ordinary, moderate and peace-loving Muslims and the rest of the civilised world would have no problem at all if Trump takes a more aggressive position to fight and eliminate the Islamic extremists and the likes of IS, which the US was partly responsible for creating in the first place. But for Trump to treat and target ordinary Muslims as extremists or potential terrorists and use them as scapegoats, like what Hitler did with the Jews, is grossly unjust and inexcusable.

Trump has already alienated Muslims and other minorities such as Afro-Americans and Hispanics, and he has also offended women with his sexist remarks even before he was elected.

He continues to attack the US news media every time they legitimately question or criticise him as a top public official, even accusing them of spreading "fake news".

Last month, he also insinuated that the intelligence agencies wire-tapped his Trump Tower on orders from former president Barack Obama during the 2016 election. This has now been proven to be totally untrue and could have been a diversionary tactic.

Since the failure of his healthcare bill last month to replace Obamacare, his biggest legislative setback so far, he has blamed and even threatened members of his own Republican Party who did not support his bill.

He seems to be offending more groups unnecessarily. One wonders how far he would go to alienate more groups before "someone dares to tell the emperor that he has no clothes". Perhaps his charming daughter Ivanka would do so.

However, the biggest challenge today to Trump is about the "Russia scandal" allegations, that his aides and election campaign managers, wittingly or unwittingly, had inappropriate ties with Russia, still the number one adversary of the US. There is evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and may be involved in other ways (being investigated now), which may compromise US security.

The scandal started off with allegations that Russian intelligence was hacking into the Democratic Party email system to discredit Hilary Clinton and favour Trump in the election but the current investigation by the FBI is expanding into an integrated analysis on how the entire administration may have been compromised.

The chips started to fall when his own National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign on Feb 13 for misleading Vice-President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US, even before Trump took over as president.

More revelations are coming out on the communications between his campaign managers, White House officials, including his son-in-law and senior adviser (Jared Kushner) and Russian officials or agents. Senior past and present White House officials, including Flynn, are now prepared to testify before Congress in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The "White House of Cards" may be crumbling under severe pressure from these extremely serious allegations about the likelihood of the president's men "working with the enemy", with or without his knowledge.

The FBI, which is investigating these allegations, will leave no stone unturned and report the findings to Congress. No sitting president would be allowed to interfere in such an investigation and the case is leaning more towards a major security and intelligence scandal, even if Donald Trump is not personally implicated.

Perhaps the powerful FBI director James Comey knew what was coming when, just about a week before the polling in the 2016 election, he revealed some additional vague information on the so-called "email scandal" involving Hilary Clinton when she was secretary of state, which appeared to be damaging to her, but he then decided not to further pursue it after (expectedly) getting a storm of protests from Clinton, her aides and supporters.

Comey, as a true US patriot, might have reasons to believe that Trump would win the election anyway and he might also have reasons to believe then that the new Trump administration might be compromised somehow. So Comey acted against Hilary Clinton in a seemingly damaging manner (but perhaps believing that his actions would not affect the election outcome anyway). Today, if he were to report and act against the president and/or his officials, he would not be accused of being biased or unfair.

Would Trump be able to wriggle his way out of the "Russia scandal"? If he can, many people, including his opponents, would certainly take the hat out for him.

However, it would be most discomforting for global stability and security if the FBI investigation concludes that the administration of the commander-in-chief of the most powerful country in the world has been significantly compromised by its main adversary.

I have predicted, with good reasons, in my two previous articles about Trump not being able to survive a full term of office and some readers had taken me to task for suggesting it. We shall see, hopefully soon, if my prognosis will hold water.

The writer, a political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, believes that Trump's arrogance and living in denial would lead to his downfall. Comments: kktan@thesundaily.com