Editor’s note: Michael represents, often as not, a dissenting opinion at VT. He is here because Michael has “standing” in the intelligence community. He is the real deal. He earned the right to say what he wants, did jail time for it as well.
Shrimpton’s story outlining the recovery of a nuclear weapon threatening the 2012 London Olympics has been 80% confirmed. He was jailed for breaking one of the biggest stories in history. He is also a person of honor.g
Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House was clearly published as part of an attempt to destabilize the Trump Administration. He virtually admits as much, referring (page 294) to the XXVth Amendment, under which the Cabinet, including the Vice-President, can remove the elected President for incapacity. I have of course read the book, although I am pleased to say that my copy was supplied to me as a PDF file. It’s a heavy read, makes repeated factual errors and is desperately lacking in objectivity. President Trump has already demolished Wolff’s claim to have interviewed him.
Who set the President up?
This is the real question, not whether the President is incompetent within the meaning of XXV(4). That is not a live issue. Whatever demented Democrat quacks might say President Trump is fully fit, both mentally and physically, to discharge the heavy responsibilities of his office. Any assertion to the contrary, frankly, is just political psychiatry, coming from people who don’t respect democratic norms.
Michael Wolff of course has no psychiatric qualifications. He’s only a journalist, and not a terribly competent one at that, with respect. Moreover he’s an avowed political opponent of President Trump. Wolff clearly cannot get over Hillary Clinton’s defeat. There’s also the gay thing. So far as I know, Wolff is gay, which is fine by me. So am I. There is however strong anti-Trump feeling in parts of the LGBT community, to the point where objectivity in those parts of the community has been lost. For whatever reason, Wolff’s book lacks objectivity.
The fact that Wolff (along it must be said with most liberal journalists) didn’t see Donald Trump’s historic victory coming just goes to show what a poor journalist he is, no offense intended. Donald Trump’s victory was entirely predictable. I could see it coming, from over three thousand miles away.
The immediate author of the set-up is the person who gave Wolff that blue badge. It wasn’t the President, nor did he authorize it. The evidence points to Reince Priebus, who was very properly fired as the President’s Chief of Staff at the end of July. Key interviews took place in Priebus’s office, and Priebus himself controled access to the White House at the material time.
Bad faith use of the XXVth Amendment to remove an elected president is effectively a coup, potentially justifying military intervention, one of the reasons why the power has never been used. There’s no way that Priebus would have sanctioned a book as explosive as this without backing. It’s believed that he reports to President Bush 41.
41 is known to have been violently opposed to Trump’s selection as the Republican nominee. He’s also close to the ChiComs, whose thinly-disguised plan for world economic domination, subsidized by offshore high-yield trading programs, is threatened by the Trump Administration’s pro-America policies. It is not known whether 41 supported the plot to assassinate Donald Trump at his Inauguration in January.
I understand that different views on that topic are held within INTELCOM. 41 has not publicly denied backing the plan to assassinate the President, which was of course illegal, but neither has he admitted it, indeed his public posture is one of pretending that it didn’t happen. That’s usually the case with failed assassination plots of course – the DVD still won’t admit to having tried to murder me in 1999! I express no view either way and will leave it to 41 to state his position on the assassination plot.
DC, BTW, is one of the US jurisdictions which encourages murder by having soft sentences, one reason why there are so many murders in the nation’s capital. Murdering a sitting President, let alone a President-elect, isn’t treason, although it would be a federal offense, as well as a non-capital felony in DC. The death penalty was abolished in DC in 1980, presumably as part of the long-term planning for the assassination of Ronald Reagan.
So far as I know 41, who still has great influence over the federal bureaucracy, has countermanded President Trump’s orders on withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement (the US is still a state party, despite Congress never having ratified the Agreement), building the Wall (not a mile is in place) and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem (the US Embassy in Israel is still located some 40 miles away from the capital, in Tel Aviv). My analysis is that the book was sanctioned by 41 as part of a softening-up process for the removal of President Trump under the XXVth Amendment to the US Constitution.
The key part is Section 4, which reads as follows:
“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”
Although somewhat clumsily worded (you don’t need to look up the date to tell that it wasn’t drafted by Thomas Jefferson) the meaning and intent of XXV(4) is clear – Vice-President Pence and the majority of the Cabinet would have to sign off on it, following which the President could appeal to Congress. The requirement for a 2/3 majority in both houses means that 41’s acolytes in the Senate couldn’t force the President out by colluding with the Democrats.
The modern Democratic party is sleazier now than it has been at any time in its history. I have no doubt that the party would vote en bloc to remove President Trump, not because its legislators seriously believed the President to be incompetent, but for party political advantage. However I doubt there would be enough Republican support. Using the nuclear option of applying the XXVth Amendment in bad faith would tear the party apart.
There could be no question of good faith. The President is physically fitter than many of his predecessors – FDR e.g. was disabled, poor man, and desperately ill when he bravely ran again in November ’44. JFK was still suffering from the effects of his wartime service in the Navy and Ronald Reagan carried on for nearly eight years after a German agent tried to murder him. Admittedly of these examples only Ronald Reagan served after the XXVth Amendment came into force, but an informal procedure was available beforehand.
The President is far more rational than his predecessor, with respect, who apparently believes in man-made climate change and probably sold his winter woollies years ago. Rejection of man-made climate change is of course a litmus test for rationality. It is more than ironic that Wolff, whilst calling President Trump’s sanity into question, repeatedly asserts (page 141, e.g.), that not only is the world warming up, but that man is responsible.
A refusal to face facts is of course one facet of irrationality. To put out a book arguing that the world is warming up in the middle of the worst winter for decades, with snow piled high in the streets, is scarcely the act of a rational man. To believe that humanity can affect the planet’s climate, the biggest single influence on which is the Sun, is delusional. The belief may be widely-shared, but then millions of Americans think that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Millions of Brits, including many MPs, think that membership of the EU is in Britain’s economic interest when the trade deficit with the EU in goods is over $2.5 billion a week.
The fact that many people may share it doesn’t make your delusional belief rational or factual. Millions believe that Americans never walked on the Moon, although the landings were actually televized and the Apollo spacecraft were tracked there and back. A huge majority of people once believed that the Sun orbited the Earth. Most Aztecs were convinced that the Earth would stop orbiting the Sun unless they ritually murdered helpless victims on a daily basis. There have been no end of widely-held irrational beliefs.
Section XXV(4) clearly has no application to the present facts. What would happen if it were to be used in bad faith to remove the President?
Possible consequences of using Article XXV
Forcing out an elected President in this way would be a denial of democracy. It would effectively amount to a rejection of the US Constitution by the Democratic Party and centrist Republicans. Centrists by their very nature tend to be anti-democratic – they usually believe in bureaucracy, not democracy, or in supra-national control, like the neo-fascist Liberal Democrats in Britain.
One possible consequence would be a Second Civil War. One of the most noticeable things about modern American elections is the geographical split. Democrats tend to hug the coasts, whereas Republicans tend to be in the so-called ‘flyover’ states, so called because Democrats and liberals wouldn’t dream of actually driving thru them.
There is already talk of secession in California, although, since California is pretty much semi-detached from the United States already, maybe I should say “further secession”. (The San Andreas Fault is one of the few geographic fault lines which reflects a political reality). If the Democrats and centrist Republicans force the President out the talk of secession would come from Republican states, the ones which actually make and grow things and whose young people actually serve in the Armed Forces.
Since the Army and Marines Corps tend to come from Republican states, President Pence, who is no Lincoln anyway, would have trouble putting down the rebellion by force. The fact that most National Guard units have recent combat experience isn’t going to help matters.
Contrary to all appearances, the Pentagon aren’t stupid. The Joint Chiefs will be fully aware that defeating the Mid-West and the South won’t be as easy as defeating the South was in the first Civil War. Texas alone would prove a formidable challenge for an invading army.
Despite repeated staged shootings of American schoolkids, church congregations and music festivals, German Intelligence hasn’t yet managed to disarm America, thankfully. Most Republican states have sane gun laws, an added complication for anyone contemplating a coup against a Republican President.
An alternative would be military intervention. The Joints Chiefs will be uncomfortably aware that most military coups are led by colonels, not generals. Chile in 1973 was a rare exception, the takeover (coup is such a strong word) being led by my dear old friend General Pinochet. He’s still the nicest military dictator I’ve ever met, BTW. As he reminded me, he wasn’t that keen on the idea of the Chilean military taking over. He was pushed into it by the unconstitutional conduct of the DVD’s Salvador Allende, not that my old friend knew in 1973 that Allende was a German spy.
Usual procedure is for the coup (or in this case, counter-coup) leaders to shoot the chiefs of staff. In America I am sure it would be done nicely, indeed they would probably be handed an automatic with a round in the chamber and none in the mag, and invited to shoot themselves. They would be given a few moments in which to compose themselves and be buried with full military honors, along with their careers of course.
My guess however is that Mike Pence and the Cabinet will be reluctant to tear up the Constitution, which is what they would be doing if they used the XXVth Amendment in circumstances where it had no application. They would also be risking a firing squad, of course, as would the Democratic leadership in Congress, who might not even find themselves being offered a last cigarette. It would be one way of draining the swamp, I suppose!
The other flaws in Wolff’s book
Fire and Fury is seriously flawed. Apart from anything else most of it is not sourced. Wolff claims to have tape recordings and notes but these have not been released. The President is denying Wolff’s claim to have interviewed him – they seem to have met once, and then only briefly.
Of the quoted sources it’s unlikely that Steve Bannon has been accurately cited. The President seems to have retaliated – at any rate Steve was quickly forced out of Breitbart, a decision which Breitbart might come to regret, since he was their one remaining big name. I am far from convinced however that Wolff has treated Bannon, whom he despises, fairly.
There are a number of basic factual errors, such as who attended which working breakfast. Wolff has convinced himself that there were only a few hundred thousand attendees at President Trump’s Inauguration (page 31), even though the oft-repeated images of a small crowd were taken after the Inauguration, i.e. as the crowd dispersed. If CNN had waited till 3 am of course the crowd would have been even smaller. Curiously, Wolff also blames Syria for the Turkish WMD attack at Khan Shaykhun (I’m serious – he really does believe that Syria was responsible (page 187)).
For what it’s worth I estimate the crowd at the Inauguration to have been smaller than it was for Obama’s first Inauguration, but larger than for the second, but with a far higher percentage of out-of-towners than both. Wolff’s mistake over the crowd pales in comparison however to the howler on page 254, where he asserts, as though it were an established fact, that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was a Russian “agent”.
There is no credible evidence that Veselnitskaya, who was found not to be in possession of any actionable intelligence on Hillary Clinton, was a Russian agent. If she was anybody’s agent she was far more likely to have been a German agent, since the DVD set the meeting up as part of its back-up plan if their favored candidate, the Democrat, lost to Trump. Since the DVD have interfered in every US presidential election since 1948, getting one of their agents elected more than once, and the Soviets/Russians have interfered in none, a connection to German intel is far more likely than a connection to Russian intel.
My analysis, already published here, is that Veselnitskaya was nobody’s agent, but a ‘useful idiot’, no offense intended, made use of by the DVD. The meeting itself was hardly treasonous – it is not illegal to research your opponent in a presidential race, it is not illegal for a US citizen to talk to foreign nationals and presidential campaigns are not limited to US-registered corporations and individuals when conducting opposition research. The DNC after all instructed a British company close to MI6 to research Donald Trump.
Wolff, who has no legal training, also gets his facts wrong on Mueller, calling him “a special prosecutor” (page 241). Fact check: Mueller is a special counsel, serving at the pleasure of the President. The idea that James Comey is a man with “personal honor” and “moral standing” (page 244) only has to be stated for its absurdity to be apparent. Comey was a Director of the FBI, for heaven’s sake! How could he possibly have personal honor and moral standing? He was one of the senior FBI bureaucrats who kept quiet about Obama’s ineligibility to be president.
The biggest mistake of fact of all however is Wolff’s risible assertion that Donald Trump was not intending to win, and didn’t think he would win. This is just nonsense on stilts, no offense intended. Donald Trump is a winner. He wanted to win, fought hard but clean, and won. Jared Kushner may have had his doubts, but Jared Kushner is not Donald Trump.
What the book gets right
Wolff does get some things right. I respectfully agree with his analysis (pages 28 and 81, e.g.) that Jared Kushner is close to the ageing, Hillary-supporting media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. I also respectfully agree with the analysis that Kushner and Gary Cohn are “New York Democrats” (page 150). Since Steve Bannon’s firing, Kushner has been pulling the President, with some success, towards Hillary Clinton’s program. Like many on the left Kushner has little belief in democracy, with respect: it does not seem to trouble him that he is using his privileged access to the President to push policy positions which have been rejected by the American electorate.
I also respectfully agree with the analysis that Kushner is close to Henry Kissinger and the Chinese kingpin Jinping (page 196). Kushner’s strategy appears to be to hand the Rust Belt states to the Democrats in 2020 by transferring their jobs to China.
Wolff is an intelligence illiterate, with respect, who seems never to have heard of the DVD. Prior to the publication of Spyhunter he may have had some excuse, but he has no excuse for writing in the field and not keeping up with the literature.
I have been asked whether in my opinion he is a DVD operative, but my assessment is he lacks the brains to be an intelligence officer, no offense intended. The ease with which he was fooled by the DVD’s man-made global warming and Russian election interference hoaxes suggest that he is a man of limited intellect, even by the low standards of his profession. He has nowhere near the intellectual firepower of the President, e.g., who has seen through both German hoaxes.
The book is so badly-written and so poorly-sourced, with respect, and its fundamental conclusions – that President Trump never wanted or expected to be President and is unfit for that office – so absurd that little weight will be given to them. The book will be bought in large numbers, but mainly by people who are already anti-Trump and wish to reinforce their prejudices. Thankfully, both a Second American Civil War and military intervention in Washington are unlikely. The book has however exposed the dangers of the badly-drafted and ill-thought-thru XXVth Amendment, which should be repealed.
This week’s movie review: Star Wars: Episode VIII,
The Last Jedi (2017, dir. Rian Johnson)
After plowing thru Michael Wolff’s book it was a relief to turn to something a little more intellectually stimulating. The Last Jedi is a great science-fiction movie, the eighth instalment in a franchise going back to 1977. I’m so old I can remember watching the first movie (Episode IV) in theater!
Democrats won’t like it, as the Good Guys win. Leavers in the UK are loving it however – the movie’s message, that evil empires can be defeated, is resonating strongly here. The movie is unlikely to go down well over in the EU, not least as Supreme Leader Snoke is so reminiscent of Jean-Claude Juncker, no offense intended.
The series has always been political. The Stormtoopers are modeled on, well, stormtroopers. Brexiteers have long drawn parallels between the Evil Empire and the EU. The plots may be set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but there are parallels close to home.
The production standards are at least as good as the previous episode in this third trilogy. Disney have done well, and I don’t just mean at the box office, although they deserve every last cent.
A Star Wars movie does not require great acting – they didn’t really need Sir Alec Guinness for Episode IV. That being said, Mark Hamill turns in a fine performance as Luke Skywalker and there is a delightful posthumous appearance from the late, lamented Carrie Fisher, reprising her role as Princess Leia Organa. Her untimely death was such a shame.
The sound track is well-written and superbly performed. It’s really rather good.
The movie addresses stirring themes – courage in the face of evil, steadfastness in the face of adversity, love in the face of hate and sacrifice for a greater cause. It’s wonderful that our young people are watching it in huge numbers, on both sides of the Atlantic. They will find much to inspire them. There are Evil Empires to destroy on Earth, in Brussels, Teheran and Peking.