Donald Trump’s Niger scandal is quickly becoming so explosive, it’s threatening to rival his Russia scandal when it comes to bringing down his presidency. As it turns out, however, the Niger scandal and the Russia scandal may in fact be part of the same criminal scandal. In addition, Trump’s Niger debacle is also tied to his disastrous Muslim ban, and a private army run by the brother of his Secretary of Education.
The Trump administration still refuses to say what the U.S. soldiers were doing in Niger when they were killed, but it’s not difficult to connect the dots. Just seven weeks earlier, the government of Niger had signed a military cooperation deal with the government of Russia. Although it was left unstated in the official press release (link), the deal was almost certainly rooted in Russia’s interest in the rapidly increasing oil production in Niger. It’s all but impossible that the U.S. would have been running a military op in Niger just weeks after the signing of that deal, unless it was part of a larger Russian op. But that’s just the beginning of the trouble for him.
Trump appears to be trying to cover up the op in Niger because it was tied to Russian oil interests. Not only would that make Trump look even more beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it could also be in violation of the Russian sanctions bill that Trump grudgingly signed into office in August. There are also two other aspects of the Niger debacle that are personally scandalous to Trump.
Neighboring Chad pulled its own troops out of Niger in protest of Trump’s Muslim ban (link), which may have left U.S. troops more vulnerable and indirectly led to their deaths. In addition, the U.S. op in Niger relied at least partially on a private army. Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the brother of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has recently encouraged Trump to use private armies in Africa (link). In other words, a family member of Trump’s own administration may have personally profited from the Niger military op.
In summary, Donald Trump ordered a military operation which appears to have been some kind of personal favor to Russia, which may have been in violation of U.S. law, which was made more treacherous as a result of his idiotic Muslim ban, and which may have put money in the pocket of his own cabinet member’s family – and which got four U.S. soldiers killed. No wonder Trump is bending over backward to try to cover this up. It has the makings of one of the biggest scandals in U.S. history.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report