Barely one month into his term, President Donald Trump is finding out the hard way that governing at the highest level is a whole lot more difficult than talking about it. Just getting his cabinet confirmed by a fractious Senate continues to be a major challenge for him.
Meanwhile, the forced resignation of his National Security Advisor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has created a media feeding frenzy and another crisis in the White House. At issue is what Flynn actually said to the Russian Ambassador regarding U.S. sanctions, versus what he told Vice President Mike Pence about it.
As I understand it, Flynn first told Pence the sanctions issue did not come up during the conversation. Then, he told Pence it might have, but he could not remember for sure. Barring a latent case of selective amnesia, Flynn clearly “misled” Pence and Trump. In other words, he lied to them, thereby losing their trust and confidence, so he was fired -- and rightly so.
Regardless of what else, if anything, happens to Flynn, his metamorphosis from “in like Flynn to out like gout” is history. However, Congressional investigations into this episode are just beginning.
The larger problem facing the Trump Administration is a spate of unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information, apparently even within his White House inner circle. How he handles that conundrum will speak volumes about his true character, competence and credibility.
So far, President Trump has indicated he will rely largely on his new Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to oversee exhaustive investigations into the leaking of classified information, to be conducted by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Given the caustic climate in Congress on Trump’s cabinet nominees, I predict he will get a lot more “help,” with all this than he wants or needs, especially from disgruntled Democrats, led by Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Still, he needs to reach out to both parties in both houses to gain the consensus required for him to govern effectively and deliver on his campaign promises to the American people.
In my opinion, President Trump would also do well to abandon his “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach to executive orders, as in his immigration ban, in favor of more carefully conceived, coordinated, and executed policies.
As for President Trump’s tempestuous tweets, I say leave most of that to “Rockin’ Robin.”
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at email@example.com.