The problem is not just that President Donald Trump is denying the November 3 election result and apparently attempting a coup to reverse that result. It is so that on almost every front, from the response to COVID-19 to economic rescue plans to the fate of hotspots like Afghanistan and Iran, the outgoing president is sowing chaos in his own government that has messed up every world capital and the elected President Joe Biden in a tie.
The most immediate and dangerous challenge is the Trump administration's failure to respond to the alarming upsurge in COVID-19 cases or to coordinate pandemic response or vaccine distribution with the incoming Biden team. However, the same scorched earth policy applies to the economic carnage caused by the virus, which is expected to continue into the next year as cases and deaths increase dramatically.
Most recent confusion erupted Thursday when US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that he wanted the Fed to close most of its emergency credit facilities, even if COVID cases across the country are undoubtedly reaching new highs, aggravated by the coming winter weather, the flu season and vacation trips.
In a rare public disagreement, the Fed replied that it "would prefer if the full range of emergency facilities set up during the coronavirus pandemic continued to play their vital role in supporting our still tense and vulnerable economy." The US outbreak has already topped 11.5 million cases and 250,000 deaths, and vaccines are still in the early stages of testing as thousands of schools and businesses close again.
CNN reported that on Friday According to new figures from the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), more than 2,300 Americans could lose their lives every day by December 18. "We expect daily deaths to peak over 2,500 a day by mid-January," said the IHME modeling team.
Little progress has been made on additional economic aid as Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have stalled on renewed financial relief and Kentucky majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, has put the upper chamber on hiatus . Meanwhile, Trump is threatening the growing number of Republicans who are questioning his efforts to overthrow the elections. Trump deliberately fired the head of the state cybersecurity division that announced the "safest" elections in US history.
Rather than focus on the pandemic or the ongoing economic pain that caused it, Trump has turned all his attention to staying in power and reportedly tried to bolster Michigan Republican lawmakers to keep him out despite a resounding blow Scope as the winner of this battlefield state to certify the victory for Biden. Trump met with two of Michigan's leading lawmakers at the White House Friday afternoon to reverse the will of voters. At a press conference on Friday he stated again that he had "won" the election.
"It's hard to imagine a seated American president doing worse, more undemocratic," tweeted Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a frequent critic of Trump, on Friday.
Longtime political watchers say that, like so much Trump did during his presidency, all of this behavior is unprecedented. "The chaos and the total abandonment of the basic principles of an orderly transfer of power undermine our ability to take global leadership," said former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.
Trump also breaks all sorts of diplomatic dishes when it comes to foreign policy. In Afghanistan, Trump has purged the Pentagon leadership to ensure a hasty withdrawal of most of the remaining US troops in the country, even though the conditions for US withdrawal are not met, according to US commanders. This leads to some rare internal party fights. McConnell, usually a loyal ally of Trump, blew up the troop withdrawal.
"The consequences of an early American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama's withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which fueled the rise of IS and a new round of global terrorism," McConnell said in the Senate this week. "It would commemorate the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975."
"Trump's behavior suggests that he doesn't care what happens in or with Afghanistan as long as he can tell his base that he did what he promised," said Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US On the advice of almost everyone, Trump wants to force Biden to send troops to Afghanistan after Biden's inauguration. Trump could then crow that he is against eternal wars while Biden is the one who sent troops back to Afghanistan. "
Haqqani added, "President Obama had also set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but halted implementation closer to the 2016 elections and said he did not want to tie the next president's hands."
Trump is also still stepping up his campaign with maximum pressure on Iran to restrict the Biden government's room for maneuver. The government is reportedly considering additional rounds of sanctions to squeeze the ailing Iranian economy further. And this week the New York Times Officials quoted said Trump was looking for options to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities prior to leaving office, as he failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate with him after breaking the 2015 nuclear deal. Officials reportedly stopped Trump from doing so.
However, some government officials are concerned about further surprises. According to a well-placed source in Capitol Hill, some intelligence officials have raised concerns about this Trump, outraged by the role of the "China virus" in his defeat, may be planning action against Beijing. Those worries have grown with the sacking of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other senior Pentagon officials and their replacement by Trump loyalists.
The most pressing crisis, however, lies with COVID and the government's continued refusal to approve additional bailouts while it allows it Five of the Fed's nine emergency facilities will expire by the end of the year. With autumn turning into winter and Covid cases increasing, most experts expect further economic turmoil as soon as the Biden government takes office. That makes the decision to hobble the Fed look like a land mine.
"With the worsening COVID-19 crisis and the slowdown in activity without financial aid, the decision to reduce the Fed's firepower could unsettle markets and exacerbate economic stress, ”wrote Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics on Friday.