Early this afternoon, Air Force One departed on Donald Trump’s first foreign trip taking with him most of his top officials. In an abbreviated list, accompanying him are:
- Melania Trump
- Reince Priebus
- Steven Miller
- Jared Kushner
- Steve Bannon
- Ivanka Trump
- R. McMaster
- Sean Spicer
- Sarah Huckabee Sanders
- Hope Hicks
- Dina Powell
Shortly after takeoff, the New York Times reported from the transcript of official White House records of the Oval Office meeting where Trump met with the Russian Ambassador and Foreign Minister. It revealed he said, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. Now that’s taken off.” The Times article was not denied by the White House.
Literally two minutes after the New York Times story posted. The Washington Post reported, “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government.” The story added, The senior White House Adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the President.” This story was later confirmed by NBC News.
On the same 14-hour first leg of the President’s trip stopping first in Saudi Arabia. Is a President whose own White House records could convict him of obstruction of justice. And likely another official in the crosshairs of law enforcement back home. In the front of Air Force One are the President, his aides and the accompanying White House officials. In the rear of the plane sit the press including representatives from the New York Times and Washington Post. All have access to the breaking news since their departure. I imagine one group is anxious to talk to the other while the other wants to say as little as possible.
The feeling of impending doom must be real with the yet to be identified White House official. It’s certainly worse with President Trump who several days earlier had told the Russians the pressure was off, “I’m not being investigated.” In the days since then a Special Counsel was appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia and undoubtedly Trump himself. Every recent day had seen incriminating leaks and stories making Trump and those around him look guilty of at least covering something up. The increasing and wide ranging investigations will soon tell us the specific crimes.
The thought of not returning to America and the inevitable public outing, possible prosecution and perhaps jail must have occurred to the White House official. It may have occurred to Trump.
The official trip has stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium. If you’re the official, you could likely slip away from any of those locations long enough to reach a safe haven if anyone wants you. Maybe you can get to a Russian Embassy or a place with no extradition to the United States. If you run will you be able to access your funds before they’re frozen? Will Interpol or some other organization stop you if you try to cross a border. If you try to reach out to friends are your communications already being monitored? If you’re the White House official, depending on your relationship with Russia or Turkey or to whom you already sold your soul. What will be their value to you once outed and of no further value?
If you’re Trump. You’re surrounded by Secret Service. While you can keep the press at bay, they are monitoring your every movement and escape is almost impossible. For all your alleged friends in high places around the world, who would protect you? Could you protect your assets. What about your brand. You ask yourself how bad things can get? You know what Flynn has on you and how bad it will make you look. That damn Comey said he’s going to testify publicly after Memorial Day. You wish you knew what he could say. You’ve learned he took notes and wrote memo’s after every meeting and phone call. Who does that?
If you’re Trump you probably decide that this trip is not the best place to sneak away. After great thought you decide you can probably make a deal. Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Ford. Nobody is going to want to go through the ordeal of Impeachment. You remind yourself of the good old days during the campaign. You call for one of your aides and tell them to set up a rally in a place where he can get, “the biggest crowds.” You think, “the people love me!” Memories of the cheers giving you comfort as you drift off to sleep on the long flight.