Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP): The rockiest of starts for President Trump

Zachary Krivine, Staff Writer

For those who cover politics for a living, I would imagine the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election were marked by a degree of sadness, given that Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to become the 45th president of the United States. I believe that many thought they would miss the excitement that Donald Trump’s campaign provided on a daily basis. Perhaps some thought that the day-to-day chaos characteristic of Trump’s campaign trail would be checked at the door of the White House. They thought wrong.

Trump’s national security advisor Michael T. Flynn resigned on Feb. 13, the night after allegations surfaced that he held a conversation with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States, concerning the removal of Russia’s existing sanctions. After Vice President Mike Pence said on national television that these allegations were not true, they are speculated to indeed be true and in violation of the Logan Act. For many, this does not come as a surprise. Flynn is known to not play by the Washington rulebook, once calling Islam a “vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people.” Flynn almost perfectly embodies the Trump administration: no political experience, brash style, and little regard for decency.

Yet this scandal, nearly one month into Trump’s tenure as Commander in Chief, is far more alarming upon further review. For one, it calls into question Trump’s hold on his Cabinet. What would motivate one of Trump’s top advisors to operate diplomatically behind his back in the first place? In addition, this instance seems to almost solidify claims that the Trump administration intends to establish warm relations with Russia. This should be considered in light of the fact that Vladimir Putin is stepping up his offensive in the Ukraine and has recently deployed a cruise missile, violating a 1987 treaty banning land-based intermediate ballistic missiles.

Furthermore, another scandal approaches from the periphery, albeit a little less threatening to our national security. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway is not new to controversy, but what she said recently has grabbed the attention of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.

“This is just a wonderful line … I’m going to give it a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online,” Conway said in defense of Ivanka Trump during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” following Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka’s clothing line from their stores.

The U.S. Office of Government Ethics’ investigation into Conway for being in “clear violation” of rules against the misuse of an official position should not come as a surprise.

Trump’s executive order concerning the travel ban has received great attention since its passing, but almost equally as shocking was its defense by his senior advisor, Stephen Miller. Appearing on a number of Sunday morning news talk shows, Miller seemed to pedal the same narrative of diminishing judicial independence.

“Our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the President to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned,” Miller said.

Trump campaigned in a chaotic fashion. If he continues to govern in this fashion, we are in for a long four years.

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