Donald launches his campaign for Presidential elections – 2020 Donald Trump and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
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t has been yet another colorful week of the Trump Presidency. Again, with Trump as President, which week could not be colorful? Michael Flynn, his Previous National Security Advisor, resigned last week over the controversy that his telephone call with Russian Ambassador to the US created. Apparently, he had informed the Russian Ambassador that he would have a relook at the sanctions imposed on Russia following the Crimea invasion.

This was done when Obama was still the President (when Trump was president elect). One of the questions that is being raised is ‘how can he make such an assurance when Obama was still the President?’ Yet that alone did not seem to be the issue. So what exactly happened?

Following the telephone call that Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador, Flynn reassured the Vice President that he did not mention anything about the sanctions. Following this, Mike Pence defended Michael Flynn in subsequent TV interviews arguing that Flynn did not discuss sanctions with the Russian Ambassador. One important point to note here is that even Trump has maintained that he was not bothered about the fact that Flynn talked about sanctions with the Russian Ambassador. The issue was that he lied about it to Mike Pence.

The bigger point is why was Flynn so defensive that he had to lie about his conversation with the Russian Ambassador to Mike Pence? He should have just been straight forward ‘Yes, I discussed the sanctions with the Russian Ambassador. I strongly feel that it is good for the US to have better relations with Russia.’ After all, Ukraine is not a black and white issue as portrayed by the western narrative. If Russia had stationed their military bases in Mexico or Canada, would the US have kept quiet?

In fact this has already happened in the Cuban missile crisis. When the Soviets stationed their ballistic missiles in Cuba in 1962, the US was incensed and rightly so. The same law that is applicable to the US should be applicable to the Russians too. When NATO and the European Union expanded naively into Eastern Europe without taking into account the Russian geo-political interests, a reaction like this can be expected. About Michael Flynn, by going on the offensive instead of the defensive, an unnecessary and unfortunate resignation could have been prevented.

Next, let’s look at the travel ban. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals laid aside Trump’s travel ban saying that the government has not pointed out any evidence to cite that any alien in the seven countries were involved in any terrorist attack. They also mentioned that the public also has an interest in maintaining free flow of travel. In all likelihood, if Trump had gone to the Supreme Court, he would have won. Except for a small complication. The Supreme Court has only eight justices at present. With Neil Gorsuch, the Trump nominee for the Supreme Court yet to be confirmed, it could have led to a tie of 4-4. Hence Trump was pragmatic enough to temper down and is currently in the process of writing a new order.

So what were the mistakes committed by Trump here? First of all, when the media repeatedly and falsely denounced the travel ban calling it a ‘Muslim Ban’, Trump failed to reach out to the public and explain why it is not a Muslim Ban. Yes, his aides did all the explaining. But this is such a crucial order where the need of the hour was for the President himself to defend the case rather than a KellyAnn Conway or a Sean Spicer doing it. Imagine a situation where Donald Trump himself had come out for a press conference, making a case as to why this cannot be called a Muslim ban, how he does respect hundreds and thousands of Muslims in the America and why this ban was necessary so that the extreme vetting process could be planned and strategized in the mean time. The situation would have been different. But of course, expecting Trump to do all these things would be asking for too much. One can understand.             

Secondly, Trump calling a judge ‘a so-called judge’ did not help things either. It would have been fine for an election campaign. But not when you have a group of judges reviewing your case. To be fair to Trump, it is very possible that Trump would have lost the case even if he had not used the ‘so-called judges’ term. Maybe it would have been 2-1. Maybe it would have still been 3-0. But there was no way that he was going to get away with such remarks. It was an early lesson and much needed for Trump. Last and not the least, green card holders were banned in the earlier order. If Trump had done what he is doing now (taking care of green card holders) the last time itself, it would not have led to a lot of complications.

However Donald Trump came to form again with an election-campaign like rally in Melbourne, Florida and targeted the media. He accused the media of being dishonest. It is true that the almost the entire media has ganged up against Trump. But this is what he should be expecting. They wanted him to lose in the presidential elections. He did not. ‘They came......They saw......But it was he who conquered........’ So what else can they do?

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author

Harish Venugopalan is a Research Assistant with the Observer Research Foundation. He has done his Masters in International Relations from the Dublin City University (DCU) in 2011-2012. His current research interest is ‘Conflict Management in Africa’.

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