Donald Trump: The art of the “self-shakedown”

The man who has advertised himself for “The Art of the Deal” now engages in a mafia-style shake down on himself!

By Frank Vogl

Published October 11, 2019 4:59AM (EDT)

US President Donald Trump smiles during a phone conversation with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto on trade in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 27, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump smiles during a phone conversation with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto on trade in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 27, 2018. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

This piece originally appeared on The Globalist.

To be sure, Hollywood producers are working feverishly on the scripting and casting of the movie of the Trump impeachment.

The film — perhaps a Netflix mini-series — will make “House of Cards” look boring.

This is not Watergate. Then, the evidence against President Richard Nixon trickled out over many months, often via leaks from “deep throat” as he was called, to Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein.

Now, the evidence against Trump, some of which is coming directly and publicly from him, is flooding the halls of Congress in a tidal wave.

Breathlessly, American television reporters who had barely ever heard of Ukraine are now dominating our screens, declaring “breaking news” from Kiev.

Then, a propaganda war is blasting ahead: Trump and his henchmen are unsparing in vilifying former Vice President Biden, now a contender to be the Democratic nominee in next year’s presidential election, as a “crook.” Trump’s opponents are no less vocal declaring that he has been acting as a mafia boss.

Where is this going?

The danger is that the leadership of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives will obtain so much incriminating evidence against Trump on so many matters that they will get lost in the weeds, confuse the general public and fail, as a result, to make a compelling case.

Trump will only be driven from the White House by an impeachment process if a great majority of Americans believe he is guilty of abusing his public office for his personal gain — corruption.

At the moment about 50% of Americans are in favor of impeachment. A much greater number is needed to convince Trump’s Republican supporters in the U.S. Senate that their continued sycophancy to this White House leader is the path to their own doom in the 2020 elections.

Nancy Pelosi

The most important person in the current Washington drama is the leader of the House of Representatives, Californian Democrat Nancy Pelosi. She is 79, as fit as a fiddle and Trump’s gravest nightmare.

Republicans are well aware that if Trump goes down, and if it transpires that Vice President Pence is just as guilty and is also forced from office, then the new incumbent in the White House, by default, would be Pelosi.

It will be up to her to ensure that compelling articles of impeachment are drafted and pushed through the House of Representatives.

She will have to keep the charges clear and clean, understandable for all Americans and uncluttered with all manner of secondary matters, such as Trump’s extra-marital affairs, his business dealings and his tax returns.

Her biggest task right now is not in Washington, but out in the country where public opinion has to be marshalled against Trump remaining in office.


Front and center in the charges will be the evidence provided two weeks ago with the release of both a partial summary of Trump’s telephone call to President Volodymyr Zelensky, and release of a report by a whistleblower.

These documents, and a torrent of supporting evidence that daily is emerging from inside the Trump Administration, including from CIA and State Department officials, is seen by Pelosi as the “smoking gun” that proves Trump’s guilt.

The key charges that Pelosi needs to push hard are twofold:

First, President Trump abused his oath of office to serve the American people by seeking to “shakedown” the President of Ukraine to obtain damaging information about Biden, his prospective election opponent.

It is increasingly clear now that Trump withheld $400 million in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine — seen as vital for its ongoing war with Russia — until the Ukrainian government agreed to open investigations into Biden, and into the business dealings in Ukraine of his son, Hunter.

Second, President Trump obstructed justice by repeatedly seeking to undermine and impede the investigations. Moreover, his staff violated regulations governing top-level national security documents by striving to hide the summary of Trump’s call with Zelensky in what the whistleblower called a “lock-down” for the most important security matters.

The public case may be strengthened as evidence is gathered that shows that Attorney-General William Barr, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Vice President Pence, were all involved in the campaign to pressure the Ukrainian government to get dirt on the Bidens.


“Shakedown” is the word that Congressman Adam Schiff of California, who chairs the House Committee on Intelligence, has used many times in recent days. Pelosi has given Schiff the lead role in pushing ahead with the impeachment investigation and he and his staff are now subpoenaing documents and preparing lists of individuals to be questioned.

One of the first witnesses is Kurt Volker, the U.S. Special Ambassador to Ukraine who resigned two weeks ago and who has provided a host of e-mails and text messages between him and others in the Trump Administration showing that a well-orchestrated campaign took place over several months.

Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani, has been the chief architect of this campaign. Now, he appears almost daily on Fox News to stress how crooked Biden is.

He has not provided a single scrap of hard evidence to support his charges. He has not obtained a single corroborating statement from any current or former members of the government of Ukraine. But that is not stopping him from making public charges or discouraging Trump from repeating the accusations.

Pressure mounts

The New York Times on September 29 ran a full-page article by its editorial board in support of the impeachment inquiry. Since then, even more damaging evidence has surfaced and it could well be that more whistleblowers are about to come forward to further damage the President.

But, in this TV reality show, the lead actor seems to take farce to new and higher levels every day. Proudly he declared that not only did he believe pressuring Ukraine to get involved in the U.S. elections was fine, but that he may now ask the Chinese government for some dirt on the Bidens in return for possible concessions in the U.S.-China trade talks.

Then, he punches out dozens of Tweets on a daily basis to blast everyone who has the temerity to suggest that he has done anything wrong.

His game is to shore up his public base of supporters. His belief is that he is above the law. And if the impeachment effort fails in Congress, then he will be still more certain of his impunity.

As a result, he could become even more reckless. An alarming prospect.

This article is republished from The Globalist: On a daily basis, we rethink globalization and how the world really hangs together.  Thought-provoking cross-country comparisons and insights from contributors from all continents. Exploring what unites and what divides us in politics and culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  And sign up for our highlights email here.

Frank Vogl

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Adam Schiff All Salon Corruption Donald Trump Impeachment Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi News & Politics The Globalist