Trump's phone problem

Even Ukrainians are stunned by this
By Sam Patten | Jan 04, 2021

Some people want micromanagers in higher office; perhaps they feel secure in the idea there exists a final check on their math at the very top.

But others see this as impractical, as the higher up the food chain you go there is more of which to keep track. This school of thought holds that if, even if his motives were pure, President Donald J. Trump’s calling Georgia’s secretary of state with instructions on how many votes to “find” is absurd on its face.

There’s no way to put lipstick on a pig. In a way, it had to happen. When you govern the way Trump has, the loyalty test gets this personal. Other presidents, for instance Richard Nixon, had guys with crew-cuts to do their dirty work for them. The amazing thing about that last phone call, the one that led to his impeachment, was the fact that Trump does it himself.

For Trump, the ideal underling is his former golf caddy, Dan Scavino, to whom he dictates his tweets.

While the Ukraine call remains subject to interpretation, the Georgia call was something else entirely. We’re used to pushing around foreigners, it frequently happens the moment an American disembarks anywhere abroad (moreover, we’ve now seen there is more to the Hunter Biden story than the mainstream media has been covering). But states take pride in the independence of their top electoral officials, and Georgia is probably not an exception to that.

Tuesday (our deadline precedes when we’ll get the results by about 12 hours) will be the proof of that. On the ballot are two Republicans who have been (bizarrely) accused of insufficient loyalty to Trump: will that be a blessing or a curse?

Since Ukraine and Trump have become so intertwined, what if we compare this recent call to his 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukrainians are used to foreign interference. Fifteen years before the Trump-Zelensky call, the discovery of a Russian plan to fix the vote count there sparked an “Orange Revolution” that overturned a falsified result.

Against such a background, a little American interference could even be seen as reassuring.

But where Trump was merely suggestive in his conversation with Zelensky, theoretically a peer, with Brad Raffensperger he was at times directive and at others pleading. The framers of the Constitution and the authors of the Federalist Papers could not have envisioned such a spectacle, intrigued though they might have been by it. The brilliance of having states administer their own elections has never been clearer, indeed it is a triumph of our brand of federalism because we know it happened. There could be no better argument against an all-powerful federal bureau of elections.

Together with Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson, the Ukrainians are likely amused by this latest imbroglio. They assume of course that politicians play tricks to hold onto power, but might ask “why does he do it himself, and why so clumsily?” After all, in a power vertical, this would be Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s job.

But in the crash and burn style of Trumpism, you inevitably reach a point in time when there is no one left to implement your orders. Let us not forget, this is a man who sent his bodyguard to deliver the letter firing FBI Director James Comey (who may well have deserved the firing, but still).

Business and bureaucratic organizations rely on the written word: emails, memoranda, the findings of blue-ribbon commissions and the like. Criminal organizations, by contrast, put little in writing. It becomes less sotto voce, though, when the other side presses "record."

If anything, this whole episode proves Susan Collins wrong about Trump learning his lesson. He definitely didn’t. The only way it really matters now (and to Collins herself who will or won’t get the appropriations chair based on what happens) is how Georgians react to it. My wild guess? Not well.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.

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Comments (7)
Posted by: Kevin Riley | Jan 09, 2021 09:24


Not protesters, domestic terrorists.

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Jan 09, 2021 08:15

So, just talking about a laptop is evidence now??  Doesn't fly.  No evidence of a laptop, no evidence of voter fraud....but so much evidence of a Seditious act against the United States of America....mostly due to the selfies that the treasonous and violent protesters took with area police.

Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Jan 05, 2021 05:39

FBI has been sitting on Biden's laptop for a year. The fleecing didn't start and won't end with Trump.

Posted by: Seth Thayer | Jan 04, 2021 16:05

Instead of just casually mentioning that there is a Hunter Biden story out there, just to keep the discrediting alive, it would be so refreshing to have some proof.  Instead we have talking heads who just casually write "Hunter Biden." and let people's imaginations take it from there.  Come up with the proof that will take Joe Biden and his family down, or move on....or you can just keep looking the other way while the Trump family grifters fleece the American public at every turn.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jan 04, 2021 13:30

What Senator George Mitchell said  in 2016 is even more relevant today,      Senator George Mitchell- "From Mudslinging to Mutual Respect; How to Make Politics More Civil" on Livestream

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 04, 2021 11:17

Trump's problem isn't his phone, it's his head.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 04, 2021 11:15

What goes unsaid is that people elected to Congress are willing to support such behavior. I know many republicans that are good people, but to continue to support an obviously flawed person as President is insanity at best.

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