In the US Senate next week, Donald Trump will go on trial accused of dangling $400 million in military aid before Ukraine, in exchange for dirt on his political enemies. But it's not just Kiev. Barely a day passes without a fresh glimpse of the President's staggeringly transactional worldview, straight out of Manhattan's real estate jungle.
America's relationship with its allies now largely turns on how much cash the President can wring out of them, in the form of higher defense spending and bigger subsidies for US troops in places like South Korea. He has also (falsely) boasted that Saudi Arabia
deposited $1 billion in a US bank account to pay for a detachment of US troops -- raising the head-spinning possibility that the commander-in-chief might farm out troops as mercenaries.
When he's not hitting geopolitical friends up for cash, he's choking them economically. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported
that Trump threatened European allies with 25% auto tariffs if they failed to enforce a dispute mechanism against Iran over the nuclear deal.
Trump has promised to punish Iraq
with actions that "make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame" if it exercises its sovereign right to kick out US troops. And the US also warned Baghdad it could freeze its central bank's account in New York, a move that could devastate its economy, according to
the Wall Street Journal.
If America treats its friends like this, it might not have them much longer. A foreign policy purely aimed at piling up wealth also undermines America's mission of making the world safe for democracy.
But Trump supporters see nothing wrong with this strategy -- they agree with him that the world has been ripping off Uncle Sam. And making "deals" is just the way this White House rolls. As Trump's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney might say: "Get over it."
"Hey broski tell me what we are doing"
A new name has emerged in documents relating to a scheme to remove a respected US ambassador from Ukraine. In a series of text messages released by the House Intelligence Committee, Connecticut congressional candidate Robert F. Hyde ranted about then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and appeared to be monitoring her movements in the capital Kiev.
"She had visitors," Hyde texted to Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, in March last year, adding, "Hey broski tell me what we are doing what's the next step."
After the messages were released earlier this week, the Twitter account for Hyde's election campaign dismissed Parnas as a "some dweeb we were playing with" and House Intel leader Adam Schiff as a "despe