There are two developing stories that are worth keeping an eye on. Both are consequential albeit for very different reasons.
The Trump/Putin “summit”
What had been called a “summit” from the get-go has now been downgraded to an “unstructured conversation” that isn’t supposed to result in any “deliverables”; i.e. concessions or accommodations “delivered” from one party to the other. The advice here is to take that assurance with a gram of valium or your deadening drug of choice.
While it is indeed likely that at conversation’s end, there will be nothing concrete to show for it. But, at some point, there will be a very Trumpian “mushy” softening on Russian violation of international law when it annexed Crimea, a part of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. As a result of that land-grab, Russia was hit with severe economic sanctions that remain in effect to this day.
Here is what to look for: In response to how he would deal with Putin over the annexation, Trump has said that the world has “changed” and that we have to “move on”. This is tantamount to accepting the seizure as a fait accompli so we need to take that as a matter of fact. If 45 can succeed in normalizing Putin’s lawlessness, then the next step will be to say, in effect “Well, since we all agree that nothing can be done to return Crimea to Ukraine, we may as well lift the economic sanctions”. Make no mistake; that is exactly what Putin wants because those strictures have had a crippling effect on his country’s economy.
Do not think for a minute that the aforementioned prediction is unrelated to the possibility that members of Trump’s team colluded with Russia to tip the 2016 election to Trump. It is worth remembering that it was Trump’s man, Michael Flynn, who promised the Russians that sanctions would be lifted when Trump was elected.
No, it’s not an effort to remove 45 from office. What we are dealing with here, is the attempt to dump Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from his position in the Department of Justice where he has the job of overseeing the investigative work of Robert Mueller.
The bills of impeachment are being drawn up in the House by members of the co-called “Freedom Caucus” who have gone to great lengths to protect Trump from the investigative work of the aforementioned Mr. Mueller. The goal is to get rid of Rosenstein as a step towards getting rid of Mueller.
What are the chances of this ploy succeeding? Here’s an analysis: To pass those bills in the House, all that is needed is a simple majority of 218 votes. That could be accomplished, but the odds of that happening are not all that great. That is because at least some moderate Republicans will not vote a party line. None the less, if the bills’ sponsors do get to 218, the matter then gets referred to the Senate where a two-thirds majority is needed to oust Rosenstein. That simply will not happen because 66 votes are not there since Republicans hold a majority of just 51.
In light of this reality, it is likely that the bills’ sponsors will hope to get them passed in the House and then use that outcome to embarrass Rosenstein into resigning. At the least, it will use the passage to tar Rosenstein and by association, the Mueller investigation. Destroy public confidence in the latter so that its’ findings and indictments are assigned no credibility by the general public.
Admittedly, both of the topics covered in this blog involve speculation and predictions. Both are developing stories and worth keeping your eye on. Both, in their respective contexts, are significant. So, stay tuned.