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The Great Deal Breaker

I had determined never to write about Donald Trump again. It was essentially a personal illusion that if I ignored him he would turn out to be an illusion. I can’t and he isn’t. It is frustrating. Lawyers are problem solvers, but this problem is an enigma. Millions of people voted for him, they aren’t all closet isolationists or unreasonable. Recently, despite the unbelievable circus that envelopes him, the U.S. president’s poll numbers are up. The economy is surging and tax breaks and tariffs are optically seen as beneficial. His tweets are fodder for the media. He continues to entertain. Saturday Night Live stays alive on Trump material.

Rudy Giuliani is a perfect foolish foil. The castigation of lawmakers and the FBI and constitutionally sanctioned investigations into wrongdoing, foreign influence, hidden financial transactions and dishonesty seem to get a pass.

I keep asking myself how he gets away with it. There may be an answer. Many people in the United States seem to think that the rule of law is for the other guy. Despite the generosity and kindness of many American citizens and their remarkable history, they are being fed a sense of their own greatness by a demagogue.

Trump is a smart man. He is a schemer. We are getting used to him, almost accepting him and he knows it. His poll numbers are rising because he represents every American’s self-interest. He tweets into history with no record. He hires a lawyer who seems to have no idea what the problem is, let alone how to solve it, but it’s great TV.

This president attacks American institutions and suggests they are the enemy of the people. The FBI, the U.S. Congress, the courts and the schools are all bashed by his tweets. In Trump’s bubble, science is suspect, immigrants are dangerous, non-traditional relationships are unholy and concerned students are puppets of the media. Other nations are either weak, take advantage or are enemies of the U.S. and he threatens to punish them.

Actually, he is seriously harming America. The White House has become a place of disloyalty, broken promises, disrespect and, perhaps now most significantly, untrustworthy.

He treats it like a Trump tower, constantly remodeled in his own image. 

The cancellation of the Iran nuclear agreement could become a catastrophic catalyst for the future of the United States and the world. This self-proclaimed great deal maker has shown himself to be an unreliable deal breaker. Trump is a partner not to be trusted and he is dragging a nation along with him. He cannot be trusted. He promised remarkable articulate students calling for new gun restrictions that changes would occur. He then promptly stood at a National Rifle Association podium and promised to preserve their right to bear arms.

When the president breaks his word, it is his country that suffers. He will be a footnote after four or eight years, but his stain will remain.

And now Trump has fulfilled “his” campaign promise and pulled “his” country out of a valid agreement, one heralded around the world by many nations. His relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and special interests in Saudi Arabia have trumped his country’s honour. His bullying tactics, optically, have contributed to peace negotiations with North and South Korea, but can anyone rely on any agreement he makes going forward?

Former U.S. president Barack Obama has been reported as reacting to the cancellation of the Iran agreement with the following words: “In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one administration to the next.  But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.” 

These are important words that cannot be ignored and are currently playing out on the world stage.

Trump is selling his own brand, selfish, golden, loud, garish and transitory. He seeks to rebrand America by “making it great again” yet his America is not a responsible citizen of the world. Trump is building mirrors around a once great nation. From the inside, it may look great, but on the outside, other nations, including Canada, are adjusting, positioning, seeking new allies, new economies, new protectors and indeed a new world order.

The American flag being burned inside the Iranian Parliament is dangerously ominous.

We in the legal profession need to speak up. Lawyers are also being tarnished in Trump’s environment. His personal lawyer is under investigation for secret deals, money laundering, hush money and self-enrichment. Trump ignores the division of powers and the independence of the judiciary by openly castigating all those who disagree with him, as well as the courts who rule against him. Giuliani, his new lawyer, is a disgrace to the profession as he brazenly misstates the facts. Trump shows utter disrespect for the reputable Robert Mueller and his investigation. His continuous venomous personal attacks on anyone in his way are unethical. He has no respect for the rule of law, climate change and international co-operation. These are issues that our profession everywhere is sworn to protect, advocate and fight for. We are problem solvers. Complacency is a breach of our responsibilities.

There is no illusion here. We are failing ourselves, our families, our nation, our world and our profession if we do nothing other than watch. As Canadians, we cannot vote in U.S. elections, but we can urge our colleagues in the United States and around the world to remain vigilant and at least speak up when necessary.