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Where’s John Kelly when you need him?

President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, cast aside like so many of Trump’s advisers, irked the president with his efforts to bring some discipline to him and his operation. But if there’s one thing that’s obvious from the Ukraine controversy, it’s that the president could use more “no men.”

During Roman triumphs celebrating military victories, a slave was supposedly given the task of riding behind the conquering general and constantly whispering in his ear, “Remember, you are mortal.” The White House needs someone constantly whispering in the president’s ear, “There’s no freaking way we’re doing that.”

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

Anyone who had taken Government 101 would have told the president that going down the path of asking for investigations from the Ukraine president in the context of a discussion of military aid would certainly bring more headaches than upside.

If press reports are to be believed, plenty of people in the White House realized this. They tried to keep Trump from doing it, but were outmaneuvered by Rudy Giuliani, who volunteered for double duty as an amateur sleuth and diplomat and has honchoed arguably the most harebrained foreign policy scheme since Ollie North delivered a cake to the Iranians.

It’s not that there aren’t legitimate questions about Ukraine and the role of various players there in the 2016 election and aftermath. But they are appropriately handled by the Justice Department, which is currently looking into the sources of the Russia investigation.

As for Hunter Biden, he, too, is a fit subject for investigation and an apt symbol of one of the worst aspects of American life, namely, how easy it is for people with proximity to power to get rich.

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Hunter had no evident talent worthy of a $50,000-a-month gig with a Ukrainian energy company, except for being the vice president’s son.

There’s a reason, though, that oppo research firms exist. No one could claim an abuse of power if the Trump campaign hired such an operation to thoroughly vet Hunter Biden’s various ventures and spread damaging material to media outlets. If the campaign wanted to be just a little clever, it could take a page from Hillary Clinton 2016 and use a law firm as a cutout.

Did no one think of that? Trump is, obviously, responsible for his own decisions and conduct, but it’s truly bizarre that it was the president’s counsel, of all people, who has his fingerprints all over this.

Giuliani was a great mayor of New York City and an accomplished prosecutor, but somewhere along the line he lost sight of such basic axioms as a lawyer should keep his client from needless risk, not expose him to it; a lawyer should tap the brakes on, not jam the accelerator for, dodgy plans; a lawyer should calmly explain issues, rather than blow them up in extravagant media appearances.

It’s hard to think of another president who has so desperately needed good lawyering, and who has been so flagrantly failed by someone who is supposed to be his attorney.

One of the themes of the Mueller report was Trump’s advisers ignoring him when he asked for foolhardy things or dissuading him from risky schemes. This, in itself, was discomfiting, but it kept Trump on the right side of the line. For all that the president scorns, say, Don McGahn, the former White House counsel’s prudence and professionalism kept Trump from unnecessary peril.

Trump finds his current crew more congenial. That doesn’t mean it’s better for him. Let the record show that the same people who are most enthusiastic about “letting Trump be Trump” also may be about to let Trump be impeached.

Trump disdains stories in the media about his being minded by “adults,” but that should be less annoying than the fallout from a plan that any serious lawyer or competent foreign policy professional would have warned had a good chance of ending in tears.

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Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.

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(12) comments

PhysicsIsFun

Change the title of this column to "Trump's Harebrained Scheme".

martian2

Trump's daughter works in the white house.

Her husband works in the white house.

Rudy's son works in the white house.

Barr's son works at the white house.

Barr's daughter works at the treasury.

Trump's sons do foreign business.

Trump's daughter is getting Chinese patents and grants from Saudis.

But sure let's talk about Biden.

PhysicsIsFun

"Eric Trump's brother-in-law has been promoted to lead a policy shop in the Department of Energy that was once in charge of steering former President Barack Obama's climate change agenda, drawing more concern that President Donald Trump's administration is being treated like a family business." https://www.salon.com/2017/11/09/eric-trumps-unqualified-brother-in-law-now-leads-an-energy-department-policy-department/

Cassandra2

When do we begin the investigations of the international business dealings of the Trump kids?

oldhomey

I guess the Republican establishment that has been cowed into submission by Trump, including Mr. Lowry, are now in agreement that the best plan to escape this latest scandal is to blame it all on Giulani and thus throw him under the bus as expendable. Unfortunately for them, though Giulani will almost certainly walk off the end of the dock for his part in this, Trump's own finger, hand and footprints are also all over this. I think this particular Lowry column is an acknowledgement from the right that yes, Trump stepped into a pile of his own b.s. and is now neck deep into it, perhaps incapable of getting out of it, and most certainly having no chance ever to get the stench of it off of him.

martian2

Truman once said "the buck stops here." For all you feeble minded that means he took responsibility for what went on in the white house. Lowry's attempt to only blame Giuliani for a hare brained scheme misses the mark. Both Trump and his lawyer are obviously senile. Trump is always the smartest man in the room as he stated many times. Now that his presidency is unraveling, he could do the country a great big favor and resign. Nixon had the decency to do so, I doubt Trump has any decency in him.

johnnybragatti

Ten/four Jo.... Lowry, the same old Switch-Hiitter,,AC/DC....,Wishy Washy,take it or leave it kinda Editor of a periodical. Sometimes he ,like really,really,really, has total Blue Love for the Orange Carcass, other times ....not so much.. Yet EVERY time he ends up bailing trump out of some very bizarre situations. he claims trump"s staff is stable??? Don"t make me laugh. The Swamp, trump promised,is over=flowing and smells, even worse. The "Swamp" may be what will ultimately, bring trump down. A nice surprise for a lot of people,coast to coast.. always remember :Mansoca"!!!! "Make America Not So Criminal Again".

Rick Czeczok

You still living in that 32nd floor penthouse that you claimed. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!




Jobaba

Shall we get the inevitable over with early on in theses comments? But what about Hillary selling all our uranium? And Barry making the slowest recovery ever from a recession? And Democrats will take all your guns, and Socialism!



There. Much better. Now the adults can speak about this column. I have to say this administration is not becoming more adroit as it stumbles along. It started pretty bad, but recent weeks have shown it on a downward curve. Could it be the people that surrounds him? I doubt that. Trump is a stubborn old guy whose opinions and reactions were formed years ago. He has claimed more military knowledge than his generals. He is quite sure he knows more than anyone. In fact, he is so troubled by his own worth that we might say it is "clinical" or "pathological". Does he get bad advice? Maybe, but you may rest assured that when he gets good advice he ignores it. His troubles are his own, the results of a raging ego.

oldhomey

Amen, Jo. I would add to "the results of a raging ego" his ownership of a bottomless pit of insecurity and feelings of inferiority.

Rick Czeczok

Wow, you have the audacity to speak of a raging ego... Now that's funny old man.

oldhomey

I am, indeed, an old man, Ricky, and at times I try to lighten things up with a stab at trying to be humorous. I am glad I amuse you. Your insane, HAHAHA laughter is not necessary to acknowledge it, however.

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