There is a Russian fable about a deadly encounter between a scorpion and a frog, which is illuminating as we watch the impeachment drama around US President Donald Trump unfold. As the story goes, the scorpion appeals to a frog to carry it across a river. The frog is reluctant to do so for fear of being stung by the scorpion. In an attempt to assuage the frog’s fears, the scorpion argues that if he stings the frog during the journey both of them will drown. Convinced by this argument the frog relents. The scorpion climbs on the frog’s back and off they go. Once out in the deep the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both. When the dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung him, the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature.”
Less than 200 days into the Donald Trump presidency, I wrote an opinion piece in which I stated that it was inevitable that Trump would be impeached. It looks like the inevitable is upon us. I argued that proposition because I knew that the issues raised in the Russia investigation would be only the tip of the iceberg. It was clear to anyone with eyes willing to see that because of the ease with which Trump lied about his contacts with the Russians and his intent to cover them up, the Russia issue would not be a one-off transgression. Why? Because, like the scorpion, it’s in Trump’s nature.
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His efforts to enlist the Ukrainian government’s assistance in a smear campaign against his most likely opponent in the upcoming election is simply a case of Trump doing what Trump has done – collude and attempt to conceal his involvement with a foreign government to undermine American democracy to further his own political gain.
That there are records stored on a top-secret server that might contain damning evidence of other such conversations shouldn’t be surprising. One only wonders what they are.
Given Trump’s strained relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is there a secret transcript that details conversations of him appealing to her to help stifle Deutsche Bank’s cooperation in the inquiries about a financial connection between Trump and Russian oligarchs? Don’t be surprised. Trump has shown it’s in his nature.
Why does Trump get along so well with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un? Why has he been willing to turn a blind eye to every transgression and taunt by Kim? Trump must certainly have an eye on something else because he surely isn’t interested in protecting American interests.
Want to understand Trump’s attacks on Nato? There might be a transcript of a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that sheds some light on this “scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours” relationship. Blowing up Nato has long been a Putin objective. Undermining this time-honoured alliance certainly isn’t in American interests. In this quid-pro-quo relationship, we know that the “quid” was Russian support for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Maybe we’ll finally find out the “quo”.
Trump’s impeachment might not happen until there are 200 days left in his presidency, but it is going to happen. Despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reluctance to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump, she has now been forced to confront the inevitable. What she has finally discovered is what some saw in the beginning, that ultimately Trump would not leave her or the nation a choice because the crimes perpetrated by Trump the candidate and that continue during the Trump presidency are who Trump is and are emblematic of how he’s conducted himself throughout his life.
Trump will sting the Constitution, the American voters, members of his Cabinet, family and friends to get where he wants to go. If he has to kill everything and everyone along the way he’ll do it because as the frog in the Russian fable put it, “he couldn’t help it, it’s in his nature”.
- Stith is former US ambassador to Tanzania
What will become of the Trump administration as he continues with public rants and subversion?
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