Donald Trump’s Open Skies endgame

For weeks now, Palmer Report has been urging everyone to stop focusing on Donald Trump’s dead-end fantasy about magically overturning the election, and instead focus on whatever he might be quietly doing to try to give himself a softer landing with regard to the bankruptcy and prison he’ll face once he’s out of office. One thing we urged everyone to watch for in particular: Trump cutting corrupt deals with foreign governments, so they can make it up to him later.

It’s not clear that’s precisely what’s going on tonight, but it may be close. Rachel Maddow is reporting that the Trump administration hasn’t just withdrawn the United States from the Open Skies treaty with Russia; it’s now immediately moving to dismantle and destroy the airplanes that the U.S. has been using to enforce the treaty.

This feels like one last Trump gift to Vladimir Putin. And why not? Russia has outsized influence over Deutsche Bank, for example, which is reportedly in the process of selling off and/or calling in Trump’s loans. So maybe Trump hopes that by destroying the Open Skies capability, he can earn one last favor from Putin to help keep Trump from total financial collapse. Or maybe Trump is still worried about whatever blackmail material Putin has always seemingly held over him.

In any case, the good news is that this Open Skies scandal has been uncovered and is now being focused on. With Trump, half the battle is catching him in the act and pushing back on him. When there’s sufficient pushback, Trump frequently caves on these kinds of things, preferring to instead try to quietly move on to the next scam. So let’s keep making noise about this. In any case, President-elect Biden can fix this one way or the other once he’s in power; it’s just a matter of how messy and expensive it’ll be to do so.

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