By MR Josse
GAITHERSBURG, MD: The periodically discussed possibility of the impeachment of President Donald Trump suddenly got a whole lot less likely, in the wake of Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress, March 24, about the Russia probe by special counsel, Robert Mueller.
Therein, Barr said the Mueller report “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election”; neither did it “draw a conclusion about whether President Trump obstructed justice in the investigation” though “it also does not exonerate him.”
The Mueller report left it to Barr to determine whether the president’s actions constituted obstruction of justice. Barr found that they did not.
Though Trump’s political position has been greatly fortified, federal and state prosecutors are still pursuing about a dozen other enquiries against him.
Be that as it may, the Trump presidency enters a new era, one that leaves him on much firmer ground than hitherto to pursue his re-election campaign. Indeed, as much can be read into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)’s statement to the Washington Post, “I’m not for impeachment…Unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path.”
It is almost certain that the Democrats will continue to pursue the matter, especially that, to the greatest possible extend possible, Americans must get to see the record that special counsel Mueller collected in course of his 22-month, $25 million probe.
However, as a National Public Radio (NPR) report had it, Democrats will have to concentrate on what their principal focus will now be. “With impeachment looking less likely, Democrats will likely feel even more of a sense of urgency to get out every single vote to defeat Trump next year.
“They may be coming around to the realization that the only way to get Trump out of office is to rally together, go to the ballot box and just win” which, as I see it at this time, is more easily said than done.
Trump formally signed a proclamation, March 25, declaring that Israel has authority over the Golan Heights, at a White House function attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is a major U.S. foreign policy innovation that risks roiling the Middle East and is as significant as transferring the U.S. embassy last year from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was.
It was timed, incidentally, as Israeli jets launched an attack on targets in Gaza following missile strikes from there against civilians in Tel Aviv yesterday, as Netanyahu disclosed. [Israel military had captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war and effectively annexed it in 1981, a move which was condemned by the United Nations.]
Trump’s sense of bravado was well reflected March 22 when he disclosed in a tweet that he had ordered the Treasury Department to halt plans for “additional large scale” sanctions against North Korea. In an explanatory follow up, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president “likes Chairman Kim and doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.”
WHAT’S GOING ON?
Last week, yours truly referred to his sense of puzzlement over some turbid political developments back home, including Prachanda’s current presence in Baltimore, near the storied Johns Hopkins Hospital where his wife has been admitted for medical treatment.
There has been zero coverage in the American media, as far as I can make out. I am hence taken aback that some worthies back in Kathmandu are attempting to make a mountain out of a molehill, terming Prachanda’s urgent, single-agenda medical mission, here to Baltimore as a full-fledged politico-diplomatic “visit to the United States.”
As far as I can tell, the United States has, upon repeated appeals, issued him and his party travel visas, on purely humanitarian grounds. This has cost Prachanda, his party and Nepali communists very dearly in terms of precious political credibility – and legitimacy.
Where personal interests are concerned, Prachanda and his comrades are – as has been brilliantly illustrated now – prepared to put aside their pathological and ideological animus against the United States, imperialism and capitalism. In other words, these ‘comrades’ are, merely and truly, political opportunists. This is thus very likely, over the long term, to prove politically costly at home.
There are currently other oddities that embellish the Nepali political landscape. Among them is the brouhaha over a meeting in a Janakpur hotel between former King Gyanendra – on a tour in the Terai – and Indian ambassador Manjib Singh Puri. According to media reports, Oli reacted violently to the former monarch’s “anti-constitutional” move, vowing to seek explanations for such errant behavior. I don’t know if he did so.
The story did not mention whether Oli intended to haul ambassador Puri over the coals, too. Perhaps not; but, who knows?
On the other hand, I read news stories about India once again halting fuel tankers from entering Nepal as also obstructing road construction in Nepal in her northwest region. What this columnist has not read about, however, are protests from the Oli government to New Delhi for such behavior.
Incidentally, more recently, according to an Indian news outlet, Indian border security arrested a Nepali national, Chiran Roka, near the Indo-Nepal border close to Siliguri, attempting to carry across into Nepal a huge quantity of explosives.
Even more significant has been a spate of news stories pertaining to the widening differences between the government and the army, with a verbal slinging match an ongoing public spectacle.
The government’s move introducing a controversial bill to empower the prime minister to mobilise the army, on his own and singular order, has rightly drawn flack.
Is the army showing signs of insubordination or is it the government that is going down the slippery, anti-democratic slope?
What’s actually going on? Will someone with political acuity and intellectual honesty connect the dots?