Jon Meacham: Trump May Be ‘in Thrall to a Foreign Power’

As part of MSNBC’s never-ending quest to find worst-case scenarios in the hope of bringing down Donald Trump, presidential historian Jon Meacham on Thursday yet again repeated the concept that the GOP occupant of the White House might be “in thrall to a foreign power” while referring to Russia.

Meacham went on to compare the situation with the 1790s, when Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson accused Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton of being too loyal to Great Britain even though America had declared its independence from that nation years earlier.

 

 

The historian’s claim was made during that evening’s edition of The 11th Hour, when host Brian Williams teed up his guest by showing “a list of events and leads” that could cause “potential legal jeopardy for this president.”

Williams claimed the list “looks like the credits at the end of a major motion picture, and while it rolls, I’m going to ask you, in all seriousness, what are we witnessing here?”

The entries under the heading “Trump Scandals” included former campaign chair Paul Manafort and former personal attorney Michael Cohen “going to prison,” FBI Director James Comey fired and Michael Flynn “compromised by the Kremlin while national security adviser.”

In addition, the public was misled “on Trump Tower Moscow negotiations,” and associates had “100 contacts with Russia.”

Meacham responded with wild hyperbole:

Well, we’re witnessing history being made. I honestly believe that.

I really don’t believe “scandal” is a word that’s commensurate with what we’re talking about. I think it’s a slow-moving, unfolding crisis of our institutions.

He also called the situation “a constitutional crisis in the sense that we may have a president who is in thrall to a foreign power.”

“That is something that in the 1780s and 1790s was very much top of mind for the framers of the government because, of course, they were inventing a government,” the guest added.

Meacham continued his attempted history lesson by noting: “There were foreign powers that were interested in either reclaiming what they had, in terms of Great Britain, or expanding their influence in the New World in terms of France, in terms of Spain.”

“So it was clearly a central issue for the people who set us on this journey toward a more perfect union,” he noted.

Even though Robert Mueller’s upcoming report has been declared “almost certain to be anticlimactic,”  Meacham still held out hope that the special counsel would provide a way to bring Trump down.

“I think that that’s why whatever Director Mueller comes back with is going to be really, really essential to defining how we put ourselves back together after this era,” he stated.

Williams then attempted to end the discussion on a colorful note by stating: “It does make Teapot Dome look like a pimple.”

As NewsBusters has previously reported, Meacham’s assertions are excellent examples of why historians are better at describing the past than predicting the future.

A transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more: 

The 11th Hour With Brian Williams
3/7/19
11:43 PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: John, as we talk, I’m just going to put on the air a list of events and leads all of it leads to potential legal jeopardy for this president. It looks like the credits at the end of a major motion picture and while it rolls, I'm going to ask you, in also seriousness, what are we witnessing here? 

JON MEACHAM (Presidential historian): "Well, we’re witnessing history being made. I honestly believe that. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, our friends asked me about where I thought this ranked in terms of scandals, and I really don’t believe scandal is a word that’s commensurate with what we’re talking about. I think it’s a slow-moving, unfolding crisis of our institutions. It is a — it’s a constitutional crisis in the sense that we may have a president who is in thrall to a foreign power and that is something that in the 1780s and 1790s was very much top of mind for the framers of the government because of course they were inventing a government. 

There were foreign powers that were interested in either reclaiming what they had, in terms of Great Britain, or expanding their influence in the New World, in terms of France, in terms of Spain. So it was clearly a central issue for the people who set us on this journey toward a more perfect union. Except for that conversation, except for the fact that Jefferson thought Hamilton might be an agent and the ferocious partisanship of the first party era, except for that, I don’t really see anything that’s particularly parallel and I think it’s bigger than a scandal and I think that that’s why whatever Director Mueller comes back with is going to be really, really essential to defining how we put ourselves back together after this era.    

WILLIAMS: It does make Tea Pot Dome look like a pimple. 

 

Trump Impeachment The 11th Hour with Brian Williams Michael Cohen James Comey Robert Mueller Jon Meacham Brian Williams Donald Trump Paul Manafort

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