The mad king, the mob boss and the brooding president: Trump, Tony Soprano and Nixon
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Well, now we know. The Trump administration is run on a core principal that would be easily recognized by the Mafia: loyalty or omerta.

According to news reports, shortly after his Inauguration, President Trump summoned FBI Director James Comey to dinner and demanded a pledge of fealty, which Comey declined. Trump (insert The Don if you will) kept the FBI director on without a formal loyalty oath, evidently expecting that at least Comey would honor the code of omerta that stresses the importance of silence, i.e., never cooperating with law enforcement. 

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Instead, Comey publicly disputed Trump’s claim that then President Obama had wiretapped the Trump Tower and disclosed that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russians in the hacking of the 2016 election.

 

So, Comey was kicked out and told to keep his mouth shut or else

Granted, it’s unfair to compare the Mafia with the Trump administration. After the Comey firing, Trump has been characterized in the media as impulsive,thin-skinnedd, undisciplined and insecure, which are not terms typically used to describe mob bosses.

Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” was a cold, calculating man who, unlike Trump, did not indulge his personal grievances. 

“It’s strictly business, Sonny,” he told his brother as they planned the killing of a gangster who had tried to murder their father, “nothing personal.” 

Or take “The Sopranos,” whom management experts have cited as a guide to effective leadership.

Among Tony Soprano’s executive strengths was a willingness to accept advice from elders and mentors and not insist on total dominance, hardly characteristic of President Trump. In the episode, “Meadowlands,” for example, Tony conceded nominal leadership of the family to Junior, which avoided an internal war, gained Tony control of lucrative contracts and properties, and put Junior in the sights of federal investigators. 

In fact, President Trump increasingly resembles, not a Don, but a mad king roaming around the White House, insisting that he alone is the rightful ruler; handing visitors red-colored electoral maps to prove that he won the election; providing color commentary on cued televised Congressional testimony about the collusion investigation (“Watch them start to choke like dogs,” Trump says of his tormentors, who are displayed on a 60 plus inch flat-screen in the White House); firing off unguided tweet strikes in the early morning hours; and demanding the heads of his incompetent aides. 

Probably it was only a coincidence that North Korea chose the weekend following Comey’s firing to lob an intermediate-range ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan. But it reminded the world that Kim Jong Un, a ruthless leader, is consistent and focused, unlike the our current president.

A brooding, insecure president, caught in a scandal as a nuclear confrontation develops. 

Sound familiar?

Ironically enough, less than 24 hours after Trump fired Comey, reporters were surprised to discover Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office to discuss “Russia and various other matters” with Trump. 

Kissinger was Secretary of State when Nixon, a brooding, insecure president, was caught in the Watergate scandal, which coincided with a tense confrontation with the Soviet Union during the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and the Arab states; the United States went to a military alert level last seen in the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

In his memoir, “Years of Upheaval,” Kissinger reflected on the difficulty of managing foreign policy crises in the Watergate era: “With every passing day Watergate was circumscribing our freedom action. We were losing the ability to make credible commitments ... at the same time, we had to be careful to avoid confrontations for fear of being unable to sustain them in the miasma of domestic suspicion.”

One reason that the country avoided a foreign policy disaster during Watergate was that Henry Kissinger was a skillful and experienced diplomat. 

To state the obvious, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is no Kissinger. 

If “Comeygate” metastasizes and President Trump continues his mad king antics, events could take a far worse turn than they ever did in Watergate. 

 

Gregory J. Wallance is a writer, lawyer and former federal prosecutor. His next book, “The Woman Who Fought An Empire: Sarah Aaronsohn and Her Nili Spy Ring,” is due out in early 2018. Follow on Twitter,@gregorywallance.


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