The Trump administration faces its biggest crisis yet following a string of major political scandals. Having dismissed FBI Director, James Comey, on 9th May, Trump has now provoked furious accusations that he acted to obstruct an ongoing investigation into his own campaign’s links to the Kremlin, after he announced that he had decided to fire Comey because of “this Russia thing”.
But this proved to be only the beginning. On Monday 15th May it was revealed that Trump had shared “highly classified information”, received under an information sharing agreement with Israel, to Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister. Seeking to calm the situation, Trump’s national security advisor, H.R. McMaster claimed “it didn’t happen”, only to be contradicted on Twitter by none other than Trump himself, asserting his “absolute right” to share facts with Russia “for humanitarian reasons”.
Next came Comey’s revenge, with the leaking of his secret memo, detailing a conversation in which Trump asked him to drop an FBI investigation into the links between Michael Flynn, Trump’s former advisor, and the Russian state. By this point, even some Republicans who had resisted calls to appoint an independent “special investigator” into Russian meddling finally broke ranks, with John McCain even calling the scandal “Watergate size and scale”.
Ruling class rattled
There is now a palpable disquiet amongst the American ruling class over the “downward spiral” of Trump’s presidency (as described by a Republican senator). The political establishment has followed events with mounting horror over the last four months, but now America’s political crisis is making itself felt in the confidence - and pockets - of the nation’s capitalists.
Lee Hardman, a currency analyst, reported to The Financial Times that the dollar’s gains since the election of Trump have now been reversed, “providing further evidence of the ongoing loss of confidence in the Trump administration’s ability to materially boost US growth”. Meanwhile, US stock markets, which had been unnervingly calm since Trump’s inauguration, suffered their worst day of trading in eight months on 17th May.
As is becoming increasingly clear, the so-called “Trump trade” promised by Trump’s programme of tax cuts and massive spending on infrastructure is now starting to look less and less likely as Congress becomes embroiled in quarrels and infighting over Trump’s unstable and blundering leadership. Big business and its faithful Republican representatives had been prepared to put up with Trump on the promise of big profits and juicy handouts but their apparent loss of faith poses the biggest threat to the Trump presidency yet.
Openly contradicting his own press team, hated by many of the state’s unelected institutions and losing the confidence of the ruling class, Trump stands at the edge of a precipice. And yet even now he may be saved, not by his own cunning, but as a result of the painful dilemma currently faced by the American ruling class and the Republican Party.
The question of Trump’s removal is now being openly contemplated throughout the press, and the possibility of impeaching the President has been discussed by members of Congress on both sides of the part divide. However, the hopes of Trump’s opponents could only be fulfilled in the event of his removal by his own cabinet on grounds of his “incapacity” to perform his duties (in effect a palace coup), or his impeachment by a simple majority of the House of Representatives and two thirds of the Senate.
Both processes would require the active support of at least a section of the Republican majority in both houses, which is where the present impasse of the American establishment makes itself felt most acutely. Trump is, after all, a Republican President. He may well be hated by the vast majority of Republican politicians, but he was overwhelmingly chosen by Republican voters in the primaries and ultimately on election day, leaving the majority of Republicans in Congress unwilling to speak out against him, let alone engineer his downfall.
As long as Trump retains his core right-wing support, which so far has rejected the allegations against him as “fake news”, Republicans will be fearful of risking their jobs come the mid-term elections in 18 months. But equally, if they are unable to push through their rabidly pro-business policies in time, Trump’s unpopularity overall may cost them their majority in any event. This presents a Catch-22 for Republicans: either they must protect the interests of big business in the short-term at the risk of tearing their party apart, or preserve Republican unity at the expense of the bosses’ profits. Either option entails future instability on an even bigger scale.
Workers and youth all over America (and the world) would no doubt be pleased to see the back of President Trump. But a successful attempt to depose him would leave little else to celebrate. The replacement of the unstable bigot, Trump, with the stable and reliable bigot, Mike Pence, in order to push through a raft of anti-working class policies, such as cutting corporation tax to as low as 15%, offers only a future of further attacks and struggles.
For workers and youth, the only way to fight Trump and all that he represents is by fighting not just against him as an individual, but against the corrupt US establishment and the powerful vested interests which lie behind it. The current paralysis and confusion in Congress shows the weakness of the system; the working class must move onto the attack!
By linking all of the inspiring struggles against Trump and his reactionary policies into a unified political struggle against capitalism, the American working class can offer a genuine socialist alternative to Trump which could sweep away the rotten system which produced him.