Reading President Trump is a little akin to comprehending the nature of a celestial body by witnessing the effects it or the unseen black hole driving it has on its surroundings, rather than seeing and fully appreciating the qualities of the thing itself. The less than complete grip we have on the Trump presidency today makes what we will one day come to learn about those yet hidden and presumably tawdry details of his term after he has gone the equivalent of an historical tsunami. Admittedly, we have brilliant insights from the crystallizing reportage from authors such as Michael Schmidt, Bob Woodward, Michael Cohen, and a host of others. What we know already is hugely important. But there must be more to come. And what we learn in the months and years following Donald Trump’s exit may be riveting. But sadly, probably not uplifting.
First, of course, is the smelly relationship with Vladimir Putin. Quite apart from his relentless defense of Putin, it is nothing less than inconceivable that a president of the U.S. would meet with the leader of the nation’s arch rival for two hours with no record of what was said, not to mention the president’s confiscation of interpreter Marina Gross’s notes. What more does one need to fuel the dark suspicions of secret agreements against the U.S. national interest — or outright betrayal? We’ll likely know one day. One day someone in Moscow will spill the beans.
Second, we’re likely to know more, or at least, more of the details, of the financial ties between Trump Inc. and the notoriously shady laundering operations of the Wealth Management Division of Deutsche Bank. It’s the sole financial institution that was prepared to loan billions to Trump when literally no one else would.
Third, one has reason to suspect that there exists a better understanding of the many things Trump did with other foreign leaders while he was president, including a clearer picture of the many ways in which he violated the Emoluments Clause through meetings with China’s Xi Jinping and Turkey’s Erdogan. And there is the nepotistic foreign policy engineered by the first daughter and son-in-law Jared. The fuller story of his relationships with the Japanese, South Korean, and other leaders might yield unpleasant surprises too.
But rather than try to understand the breadth and scope of the actions taken over the past four years that might have violated the constitution, U.S. or International Law, or simply the kind of good sense that we expect from an American president, we and history need a full accounting of all that has come to pass for this knavish presidency.
And then there is the final denouement — a Trump Presidential Library. If it is to be built, will the money be there from a broad spectrum of financial donors, or will they not represent the broader diversity of our country? More important, will it be possible to locate and obtain the records of his far from transparent presidency with which to fill it? Do they exist? Given the lies, distortions, failure to grasp the reality of most situations presented to him for policy resolution, the outright phony constructs that found a footing in the president’s troubled mind, and the flat out baloney that has streamed every day from the White House for these four years, where can be found the credibility that is essential to the records the library might get?
Desperate is the need for honest, factual historical records, books and articles that will come to be written by those who were there at the time, including perhaps, those of Ms. Marina Gross, the Russian interpreter with the US Department of State, whose memory would seem to hold so many secrets. But don’t hold your breath.
Author William Piekney retired as a senior operations manager from CIA in 1996 at the SIS-05 level. He was Staton Chief three times and headed what was then the Africa Division and the East Asia Division, now the Africa and East Asia Mission Centers. He is an active member and supporter of The Steady State Organization.