Not that I thought it would be a good idea to send Donald Trump to Asia for twelve days before I read the latest Politico article on the administration’s preparations, but after, I’m convinced that it could be the last nail in the president’s coffin.
For starters, his foreign policy team has scheduled “dozens” of meetings not because they need to have that many but because “top aides have sought to keep the briefings short to avoid overloading the president with details.”
And the details are many. They’re trying to tell the president how to properly accept a business card, whether or not to bow, and countless other ways to avoid inadvertently offending his hosts. They don’t want him to say something stupid about trade, about Taiwan, about Korean “comfort girls,” about extrajudicial assassinations in the Philippines, about North Korea’s nuclear program, about the “reelection” of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and on and on and on.
We all know this is pointless. They can have a thousand two-minute meetings, each one devoted to avoiding just one potential land mine, and the president is still going to screw up, and do so massively and repeatedly.
The administration and its friends know this, too.
The president’s advisers acknowledge privately that Trump’s unpredictable behavior could complicate the trip in ways big and small, from potentially escalating the crisis on the Korean Peninsula to flouting complicated rules of procedure.
“You never know what he’ll say,” an administration official said, adding that the grueling schedule could heighten the risk of mistakes. An outside adviser to the administration concurred: “The potential for error is huge.”
This trip is supposed to serve as a distraction from the Russian probe at home, but it’s only going to intensify the sentiment in favor of impeachment.
“Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked.”
…Trump’s lawyer Ty Cobb has been advocating the view that playing ball will lead to a quick resolution (Cobb did not respond to a request for comment). But these soft-power approaches are being criticized by Trump allies including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, who both believe establishment Republicans are waiting for a chance to impeach Trump. “The establishment has proven time and time again they will fuck Trump over,” a Bannon ally told me.
And when the president staggers home, he’ll have this to deal with:
President Donald Trump’s longtime aide and current communications director, Hope Hicks, is scheduled to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-November, following the president’s trip to Asia, multiple people familiar with the schedule told POLITICO.
Hope Hicks was there when there president named Carter Page and George Papadopoulos as his foreign policy advisers. She was there when Trump wrote dishonest talking points on Air Force One about the meeting Manafort, Kushner and Donald Jr. had with representatives of the Kremlin. She has been at Trump’s side for a long time. She may be talking to Mueller’s prosecutors for days.
I don’t care how much people try to babysit Trump, he’s still not fit to be president. Even Steve Bannon seems to realize this:
Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote. “One thing Steve wants Trump to do is take this more seriously,” the Bannon confidant told me. “Stop joking around. Stop tweeting.”
Sending Trump to Asia isn’t going to make one single solitary thing better for the president or the administration. It will almost definitely make things worse.