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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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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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