Even though he may never have read Sir Walter Scott's historical poem, Marmion, it would have been in Donald Trump's best interest if he had been made aware of a couple of the famous lines. Oh what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practice to deceive. It seems that some deceptions are now coming back to haunt him. Tangled webs are pretty hard to keep straight.
There is no question that President Trump has a somewhat distant relationship with the truth...and he has admitted as much. It appears that he does not see this as being a serious flaw. In fact, Trump recently re-tweeted video footage from an extreme right group without checking the validity of the source. The footage purports to show acts of terrorism perpetrated by Muslims, and by tweeting those images President Trump put his biogtry out for all the world to see. He received condemnation from many world leaders.
As time goes on more and more people in Trump's circle are finding themselves in legal trouble, and it is quite likely that the ongoing investigations will lead directly to the White House. First there were the charges laid against two of Trump's campaign officials, former chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates. Just as this was going down the news came out that George Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his own foreign contacts...specifically Russian contacts.
A week ago the news reports indicated that Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI by misleading them as to whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. There had been other charges but those were dropped...possibly because Flynn is now cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation.
When deception is practiced it can come back to bite the deceiver. When Flynn was fired Donald Trump gave the reason as Flynn lying to the Vice President. Trump then had a one-on-one meeting with investigator, James Comey...asking that he take pressure off of Flynn. Comey declined to “profess his loyalty” and Trump fired Comey.
One of the problems Trump now has is of his own making. He can't keep his lies straight. He is now saying that he had two reasons for firing Flynn...he lied to the Vice-President and he lied to FBI.
Since his little meeting with Comey came after Flynn's firing – and he is all but admitting to obstruction of justice. The possibility of collusion continues to be investigated by Mueller and also by congress. It has been reported that Trump asked some members of congress to cease the Russian connection investigation.
A desperate attempt has been made by Trump's lawyers to shift this recent obstruction of justice clue away from the President. Lawyer John Dowd, is now saying it was him that tweeted Flynn's lying to the FBI using Trump's twitter. For anyone who believes that...I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn for sale at a very good price.
There is also evidence that Michael Flynn got in touch with the Russians at Jared Kushner's direction. Since son-in-law Kushner is the President's senior advisor we can assume President Trump knew exactly what was happening. The world has seen how much Trump insists on control – therefore it is unlikely he was out of the loop at any time.
So this is indeed a tangled web and it would appear that the house of cards...the current White House might soon tumble. Thus far four cards have fallen and others may also fall in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime Trump continues to antagonize the leader of North Korea, and spew hate toward a significant population that is not of his “religion” and limited ideology.
The scarey thing is that this man – and his tangled web – holds the power to affect not only his country...but also the citizens of the world.
Shirley Hallee’s column appears weekly in the Amherst News.