From the Publisher: Washington, D.C.

Arnold G. York

The news out of the nation’s capitol this week has been very disquieting, frankly because, although the news was not that unexpected, the reaction to it is so puzzling. It was not at all surprising that James Comey, the director of the FBI, testified before Congress that the bureau was investigating any possible relationship between the Russians and the Trump campaign during the election to see if any crime had been committed. While he and Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency (NSA) were testifying before Congress, the White House —and perhaps Trump personally —were tweeting about it and trying to spin it. Both Comey and Rogers also testified that there was no evidence that Obama had wiretapped Trump, as Trump had charged, and that charge was, in effect, false. In addition to the FBI and the NSA, the House Intelligence Committee and probably a Senate committee or some joint committee will also be investigating it, which means there is considerable momentum to get to the bottom of what happened, a momentum that I doubt the White House can stop.

Trump already knows that General Michael Flynn had to quit because he lied about the Russian contacts and, in addition, Flynn took $500,000 from the Turks for writing an op-ed in the Hill newspaper supporting the Turkish government position, and only after being outed did he register as an agent for a foreign government. He also knows about the contacts between his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a former Ukraine government official and that someone tried to change a plank in the Republican Party platform to make it more agreeable to the Russians.

Under these circumstances, and knowing what he already knows, prudence demands Trump be careful and not just knee-jerk react. All he has to say is: “If a foreign government tried to interfere in our national election, that is important and we should follow all avenues of investigation to get to the truth. If someone in my campaign was involved in some way I certainly would want to know about it. However, we should not just jump to conclusions until the evidence is in and I, along with the rest of the nation, should wait until the investigations are concluded.” That would cover him for a while, and give him both time and deniability.

If he continues to react to every daily event, tweeting at all hours, he systematically erodes his own creditability and that appears to already have begun to happen. The latest Gallup Poll suggests his favorability numbers have dropped into the high 30s, which is lower then any president in history at this point in his presidency. For now, the drop is in the independents, but if he keeps going this way, we can anticipate a drop in his support base —and for him that will be deadly because many Republicans who were not that crazy about him in the first place, or some of the marginal Trump supporters, will leave. If that happens, it makes it very difficult for Trump to get anything done in the Congress, even if it is a Republican Congress. The strangest part of this is that most of the damage done to Trump has been self-inflicted. Frankly, I don’t see that the Democrats have yet laid a glove on him, but if he keeps going this way they may not have to. About the worst thing that can happen to anyone in politics is for people to begin to believe that you’re a joke, and Trump is getting perilously close to that line.

• • • • •

Locally, I want to recognize a wonderful lady who just passed away. Luciana Forge was the wife and partner of Daniel Forge. They together ran the Beau Rivage Restaurant, which for many, many years was the go-to place for family events, parties and weddings. Luciana was a former opera singer, a gifted artist, a genius with flowers and a loving lady to her husband, family and friends. The York family celebrated the wedding of one son there, many family anniversaries, Karen’s mom’s 90th birthday and many quiet evenings just sitting and having dinner near the fireplace. Luciana and the Beau Rivage will remain in our memories forever.