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Trump's Final Act — or Ours?


Former FBI agent Susan SurfTone looks at the past week's news and sees the beginning of an end.

The United States Constitution is a social contract. This social contract was an agreement between people to form a union, a government, basically for protection and to promote the general welfare of the people entering into it. It is a piece of paper that is only as good as the intentions of the participants, much like any written contract. Our Constitution formed a constitutional republic that has served as the basis of our federal government since its creation by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The states bound their people to this agreement when each state ratified the Constitution through their state legislatures and specially-elected state conventions. It was not an easy process.

Through good times and bad, our Constitution has held us together as a nation because those holding the reins of our three branches of government acted within accepted honorable norms established in accordance with our 232-year-old agreement. Those who acted against the law as established by our Constitution were subjected to or threatened with impeachment, the provision our founders wrote into the Constitution to protect us from those who would dishonor our deal. The Founding Fathers anticipated the eventual deal breaker in the form of a president using the office of the executive branch to advance his own interests above those of the country in violation of his Constitutional oath made on the day of his (or her) inauguration. Donald J. Trump, a man who never met a deal he wouldn't break in self-interest, is the man the Founding Fathers knew would come to threaten the foundation of our constitutional republic.

Trump was elected president in 2016 with the assistance of a hostile foreign power, as explained in the Mueller Report. Trump, with the help of Russia, smeared his opponent and tainted an American presidential election. The saga of how it was done was complex. Trump and his cohorts made it even murkier with distraction and deflection fed to his supporters through a major cable new outlet. The Republican Party assisted mightily to protect their president. The strategy worked and Trump skated. A smart man would have wiped the sweat from his brow and learned his lesson, but Trump will never be accused of being a smart man.

Believing in his own invulnerability but fearing 2020 Democratic frontrunner -- former Vice President Joe Biden -- could defeat him, Trump almost immediately proceeded to strong-arm the newly-elected president of the Ukraine. Trump wanted President Zelensky to assist him in getting dirt on Biden, dangling congressionally-approved monetary assistance that Ukraine desperately needed to fight an aggressor, Russia. The 2020 election was on the way to becoming the sequel to 2016 and ushering in the end of our democracy. Transactional Trump doesn't care as long as he wins by any means. Democracy and the Constitution are merely nuisances to him and, as president with the overwhelming approval of his Republican Party, he can gather the lackeys he needs to provide cover for him. It appeared to be a done deal as private citizen Rudy Giuliani, possibly along with Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr, worked to move the nefarious scheme along.

Enter the whistleblower with credible allegations of the Ukraine deal and cover up. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi finds her caucus moving quickly toward an impeachment inquiry because Trump is jeopardizing our national security -- it's that simple. Pelosi opens up a formal House impeachment inquiry and makes House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff the point person; a wise move. The dam begins to break as we are faced with a clear and present danger. The names of Barr and Pompeo are now heard often in the news. Let's see how Trump's Roy Cohn, aka Barr, does now that all his credibility has been stripped away.

Most importantly, the polls begin to shift quickly as more of Trump's treachery and cover up is revealed by a White House readout of his call with the Ukrainian leader. Shades of Watergate and the downfall of Richard M. Nixon cause real fear in Trump's White House. Moscow Mitch might not be able to save him without going down in history as the man who enabled the autocrat to destroy democracy. Trump goes to the 2016 playbook with attacks on the whistleblower, attacks on Hillary Clinton -- as the State Department steps up an investigation into her emails yet again -- and Republican stooges hit the cable shows with nonsense about the whistleblower. Tweets of treason and civil war fly while House Democrats and journalists who understand their purpose in our democracy press on.

We know the road we are on because we know the history of Watergate. We are entering either the final act of Donald Trump -- or of our democracy. I'm putting my money on democracy emerging the victor as honorable people refuse to concede to the bully-in-chief. The Trump presidency will go down in history as a lesson in abuse. It is a necessary lesson to remind us of how fragile our constitutional republic is. Yes, Mr. Franklin, we can keep it.

Susan SurfTone is a musician, former FBI agent, and regular contributor to The Advocate.

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