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How Mike Pence could instigate the removal of Donald Trump from office

Attempts to prevent a Trump presidency have thus far failed. However, a palace coup scenario remains, and it is the one most likely to succeed.

Eric Zuesse

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Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on strategic-culture.org

The overwhelming opposition to Donald Trump’s taking office on January 20th as the U.S. President — opposition on the part of the entire U.S. Establishment (America’s aristocrats and their agents in the government and media and think tanks) — has made clear that the Establishment would welcome any opportunity to replace Trump with the Democratic Party’s Establishment Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, or with any other Establishmentarian (such as Trump’s own V.P. choice, Mike Pence).

First, there were the efforts to have vote-recounts in the three states where Trump’s victory over Clinton were the narrowest; then, there was the orchestrated campaign to switch to her enough Electoral College electors for her to ‘win’; then, there was the effort to portray Trump’s win as having been engineered in Moscow and thus illegitimate. (Both Clinton and Obama endorsed those efforts.) But now could come the tactic (this is a Republican one) that actually has the highest likelihood of succeeding, and it would replace Trump with Pence. Here’s how it can very easily happen (with my boldfaces added, for clarity):

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution asserts:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of … the principal officers of the executive departments … 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.

The overthrow becomes immediately effective, on the say-so of solely the V.P. plus a majority of the Cabinet. They don’t have to justify their joint decision to anybody; but, “Congress shall decide the issue … within forty-eight hours”, and so it “determines by two-thirds vote of both houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Presumably, the aristocrats (with the assistance of the news media they control) will buy-off any congressional stragglers whom they must, in order to meet that two-thirds requirement. (After all, these people own trillions; buying such a palace coup would be a huge bargain for them.) If they fail, however, there is no statutory penalty for their having attempted what would then have been, in fact, a legal palace coup in the U.S. federal government.

They’d all be safe — and President Trump would then need to fight his way to convincing the hostile Congress and news media that they — his own enemies — had been wrong to allege that he was “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” In other words: even if the coup-attempt fails the first time around, the President will be left unable to govern, regardless of what his actual abilities are.

Maybe the same process will be repeated a month later. Trump’s Presidency would probably end soon thereafter. It would be a nightmare not only for him, and not only for America, but for the entire world: a palace coup to grab control of the U.S. Executive office (they already own most of Congress), for the U.S. aristocracy.

All that’s needed in order to trigger this nightmare would be Pence plus half of Trump’s Cabinet.

Far over a majority of the people whom Trump has appointed to be “the principal officers of the executive departments” — i.e., majority of his 15-person Cabinet — are Establishment Republicans, who favor continuation of the Cold War against Russia.

This continuation of that hostility on the American side had started when the Establishment Republican U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, on 24 February 1990, confidentially instructed not only his Cabinet, but heads-of-state of America’s European allies, that NATO’s hostility toward Russia, was to continue in secret, even after the Soviet Union and its communism and its Warsaw Pact military alliance would end, which end of those Soviet entities occurred in 1991.

Under Obama, the old American “Cold War” (henceforth now against Russia on the alleged basis of both Ukraine and Syria) has been getting hotter than it had been since at least the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (which crisis actually did pose an authentic national-security danger to the U.S.).

However, candidate — now President-elect — Trump has consistently been promising to stop it (because what’s happening in Ukraine and Syria don’t pose any such national-security danger to America, but are instead national-security threats to Russia (such as by America’s now possibly placing nuclear missiles in Ukraine only a five-minute flight-time to Moscow), instigated largely BY the United States.

In the view of America’s aristocrats and their agents (including such firms as Lockheed Martin), Trump is now threatening them — he’s threatening to end the Cold War, on the American side, as it had already ended on Russia’s side, in 1991.

Either Trump will reverse his many public statements supporting rapprochement with Russia, or else the U.S. Establishment — which includes almost every living member and former member of Congress, and virtually all of the think tanks and news media, and also the Establishmentarian Pence, whom Trump himself had appointed; and, also, the mostly Establishment Republicans whom Trump has selected for his Cabinet — will likely remove him from office and hand the Presidency to the Constitutionally assigned substitute, the U.S. V.P., Mike Pence himself.

In either case, America’s war against Russia would likely resume, as it was under Obama, and perhaps even as bad as Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton had been promising to escalate it (which would be to World War III).

The Democratic political commentator, Keith Olbermann, already on 5 January 2017, was propagandizing for this outcome; but he didn’t say that he would actually prefer Pence to be President; he instead showed that he wanted Pence to be President; he showed it by his there urging that it happen.

NOTE: Olbermann misstated there, at 7:14- in that video, the U.S. Constitution, by his saying that the overthrow would be “by the Vice President and the Speaker of the House using the 25th Amendment” — that’s not what the 25th Amendment actually authorizes; it instead authorizes “the Vice President and a majority of” the Cabinet, to overthrow the elected President, and it makes no mention there of “the Speaker of the House,” at all.

Earlier, on 23 November 2016, Olbermann had gotten that matter right. Perhaps as Olbermann is aging, he’s losing his memory (thus forgetting what he had known a month or so earlier, on November 23rd), and increasingly is just winging it (instead of rechecking his key facts), and this might be why he now thinks that such a coup can be carried out merely by the “Vice President and the Speaker of the House” — i.e., by (the two Establishmentarians) Mike Pence and Paul Ryan.

It’s fortunately not true. If it were that easy, then Trump might not be able to last as the President for even a month. Getting a majority of the Cabinet to participate in the conspiracy would be far less likely than that, even though they’re part of the Establishment. Some, even of the Establishment faction (and thus inclined toward dictatorship), might have a conscience.

What’s important here, however, is that this clause of the 25th Amendment does allow the Establishment Republican V.P. Pence, plus “a majority of” the Establishment Republican Cabinet that Trump has (unfortunately) selected, to throw Trump out and make the reactionary Pence become America’s President in his place.

Trump, by choosing an Establishment V.P. and an Establishment Cabinet, has virtually invited an Establishment coup, unless he buckles early to the Establishment and violates every progressive promise he had uttered during his campaign for the Presidency — especially his promise to work together with Russia’s leader, to the benefit of both countries.

What is especially remarkable here is that a putative “progressive Democrat,” Olbermann, is actually proposing this fascist takeover of the U.S. Government, which the 25th Amendment allows, and which Trump himself was stupid enough to enable, by his having chosen so many conservative Republicans for his Cabinet, and for V.P.

Unfortunately, Trump seems not to have been bright enough to have known of this feature of the U.S. Constitution, and so he might have been tragically unaware of the vital necessity for him to select anti-Establishment people for his V.P. and Cabinet; and, so, if Trump himself doesn’t rule as an Establishment President (which will become clear within two months at the most), a coup overthrowing him would actually be fairly easy, and the major question would be the coup’s timing.

Presumably, the aristocracy would delay it until there is clarity that Trump is serious about reversing some of their key policies — such as NATO’s pushing Russia into a World War. Remarkably, this would be an entirely Constitutional coup — one that takes advantage of the stupid drafting of the 25th Amendment.

Stupidity might be rampant, but the American aristocracy (who are united behind GHW Bush’s 24 February 1990 plan) take advantage of every opportunity that’s available to them — and this is certainly a major one. Consequently, the next four years are remarkably likely to be a conservative rape of the U.S., and even of the world (along the lines of Hillary Clinton’s plan to finish GHW Bush’s plan, but overseen by Pence and the Republicans instead).

Up to the present moment at least, Trump is still displaying the courage to repudiate the U.S. aristocracy’s top priority, of continuing the war against Russia that GHW Bush started, and that Obama has been raising to a fever-pitch.

If Trump sticks with this repudiation of the Bush-until-Obama foreign-policy thrust, and yet (somehow) survives in office, then, right there — on that one issue alone — he will be reversing the horrible U.S. history after 24 February 1990 (which the U.S. Establishment are obsessed to continue and to culminate), and finally be setting the world onto the most essential path to peace and prosperity.

Authentic progress can, perhaps, begin to be made on domestic issues, both inside the United States, and around the world: the widespread public hope at the end of the Cold War (the freeing-up end of the vast armanents-drain and destruction — such as the invasions of Syria and Ukraine — to spend those trillions instead constructively, upon domestic economies) will finally become reality, from which billions of people will benefit.

PERSONAL NOTE: Although I expect the worst, I hope that subsequent events will prove my expectations regarding Trump’s Presidency to have been wrong.
—————
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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