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It’s still hard wrapping my brain around the words “President Donald Trump” — but there are strategies for moving in that direction. Indeed, I’ve come up with three comforting thoughts about the next how-many years.

1) Trump has no fixed principles. He’s not a real conservative, which presents some interesting possibilities for those of a more liberal bent.

For example, he’s talked about having the federal government negotiate with drugmakers for lower Medicare prescription prices — a capital idea that Democrats have been promoting forever.

This comforting thought is tempered by the strong possibility that Trump will not do it. Here’s why:

It’s a non-alternative fact that pharmaceutical company stocks swooned when Hillary Clinton seemed close to victory. They rose after Trump won, but on the very day he accused the drug companies of “getting away with murder,” pharmaceutical and biotech stock prices plunged. Were Trump to tweet “never mind,” they’d probably shoot up again.

If his circle of friends and family got wind of these market-moving tweets in advance, they could make a pile. Of course, that would be insider trading and illegal.

The day Trump bashed the F-35 fighter jet over costs, shares of its maker, Lockheed Martin, fell nearly 2.5 percent. But the stock price started its rapid descent six minutes before the tweet went out.

Just sayin’.

2) Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. This is not to question his presidential legitimacy. The Electoral College decides the winner. We are only noting the obvious: Many people voted for him, but “the people” did not. And since the election, Trump’s approval ratings have taken a steeper dive.

Sure, he and his surrogates can fight off numbers showing sparse attendance at the inauguration. They can dismiss the millions who protested his inauguration. But the people who count know how to count. Journalists, government officials, Democrats, and Republicans are clearly losing their fear of Donald J. Trump.

John Brennan showed an astounding lack of reverence when an aide relayed the former CIA director’s deep anger at “Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.” Brennan, the aide added, believes that Trump “should be ashamed of himself.”

Guess Trump’s habitual bashing of the intelligence community and his earlier remark likening the CIA to Nazis didn’t go over so well.

Norms of political discourse don’t get turned off for one side and not the other. With Trump’s popularity bleeding away, gloves are coming off all over Washington.

3) There’s comfort in knowing that with real power, Trump can no longer get away with contradictory positions. On such matters as Obamacare, there will be consequences whether Trump does one thing, the opposite, or nothing. And should those consequences involve hurting ordinary people, no amount of populist hypnosis is going to convince them otherwise.

Trump’s executive order directing government agencies to ditch provisions of the Affordable Care Act that impose a financial or regulatory burden has heightened anxiety among insurers and the public. For example, the mandate to buy health coverage or pay a fine could be interpreted as a burden. If it were to be weakened, more healthy people would drop out of the health care exchanges, leaving insurers saddled with a sicker population. The exchanges would collapse.

Now, that may be Trump’s game plan. Kill the ACA without putting Republican fingerprints on a straightforward repeal. Make the public believe it died of natural causes.

I doubt that’s going to work. The people don’t like having security taken away from them. Note I said “the people.”

Cold comfort, perhaps, but let’s take comfort where we find it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pool

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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