Donald Trump’s Stormy Beginning

Almost a month has passed since Donald Trump assumed the presidency. American presidents are usually allowed a honeymoon period of the first 100 days of office when criticism of their actions is generally muted. However, so bitter and vitriolic was the Trump-Clinton election campaign that the animus against Trump has followed him virtually from day one of his incumbency. The media has been particularly severe on Trump’s foibles which have been pounced upon by the commentariat. These have included a number of his executive orders the most controversial of which was his attempt to ban the entry of citizens from seven Islamic countries.
Trump’s business dealings, his failure to furnish his income tax returns, his alleged closeness to President Putin, and in general his freewheeling style of governance has raised the hackles of many, including senior Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell and John McCain. Another unexpected blow which has not only seen Washington buzzing but also important foreign chancelleries, was the forced resignation of retired General Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor. Flynn had spoken to the Russian ambassador a few times during Trump’s transition. There was speculation in Washington which was later corroborated by telephone records that the Obama-imposed sanctions on Russia for hacking offences against the United States, had been one of the topics discussed between the two. Flynn had earlier feigned a lack of recall about discussing the issue of sanctions. When it was found out electronically that this was not the case, Trump had no option but to ask for, and obtain his resignation. At this stage, it is not known whether Trump had authorized Flynn’s conversations with the Russian diplomat.
This development is symptomatic of the lack of an orderly administration. The media is talking of different and competing centers of power surrounding Trump. Other senior Trump advisors such as Steve Bannon and his media persons Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway have all faced heavy criticism for their words and deeds. It has been suggested that Bannon and Flynn had pronounced Islamophobic tendencies and that Trump was influenced by their views. That’s why according to this line of thought, Trump was quick to issue the executive order banning the travel to the United States from seven Muslim countries. Hundreds of people with valid travel documents from these countries were unduly inconvenienced till the travel ban was dismissed twice by the Judiciary. This was a self-inflicted blow by Trump who appears not to have seen through the consequences of this act, considering that not a single act of terrorism on US soil can be attributed to the citizens of all seven Muslim countries.
These are early days in the Trump presidency. It is hoped that he will pull himself together. It is hoped that the realization will dawn upon him that being the CEO of a business is quite different from negotiating executive power with the other two poles of power under the US Constitution, namely the Legislature and the Judiciary. Trump and his staff have shown disdain if not contempt for the judges who have stopped him from carrying out his controversial ban. Such an attitude could create problems down the line for the President. Any president is expected to have a reasonable working relationship with the Congress and the judges. This does not appear to have happened so far. It is crucial for Trump to modify his style of governance failing which political dysfunction in Washington is likely to grow.

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©2022 Syed Azmat Hassan

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