A Trump Retrospective–What If?

Now that the execrable US political class has gifted the country with The Hologram—the first truly illegitimate president—it is time for retrospectives on the Trump presidency. The “storming of the Capitol” was a convenient—planned—excuse to avoid any debate on the evidence of massive election fraud during the joint session of Congress, but that’s a topic for another day. Let us examine and dissect what was a key decision point at the beginning of the Trump administration.

During the 2016 campaign, candidate Trump developed a number of winning themes and slogans that people at his rallies frequently repeated in unison, not the least of which was “Lock Her Up,” in reference to the multiple felonies surrounding the FBI’s cover-up of Hillary Clinton’s unclassified email server. For those who continue to doubt her guilt, a quick perusal of this signed affidavit from a State Department whistleblower is just the tip of the iceberg. Go to page 122 of the .pdf file located at the above link to read the whole letter. Here is the opening excerpt:

When former FBI Director James Comey “exonerated” her in a public statement on July 5, 2016, claiming that she had been “extremely careless” in handling her emails but would not recommend criminal charges to the Dept of Justice, many Americans—especially career national security personnel who fully understood the implications of her crimes—were outraged at the miscarriage of justice. And the slogan “Lock Her Up!” was born. Candidate Trump indeed promised to “lock her up” during many of his campaign stops, including this one in Florida on October 20, 2016:

"Yeah. I agree with you. I used to just be quiet on that. I agree with you 100 percent," Trump said, endorsing calls to jail his political opponent.

Yet, after he won the election, President Trump averred in December 2016 that “his threat to imprison Hillary Clinton for using a private email server during her time as secretary of state was simply an appeal to win voters.” Was that true, or did President Trump make his first big mistake by deciding not to pursue a key campaign promise and instead focus on his agenda?

I believe that Trump misjudged the political class bigly from the very beginning, thinking that he could make deals with them to everyone's benefit. He naively thought that if Congress joined him in implementing his agenda, everyone would benefit politically from the successes. He failed to realize until much later that all they really care about is naked power, not what benefits average Americans, and they weren’t prepared to share power with a political outsider like Trump. He probably also thought that, given his propensity to let the legal processes play themselves out without his direct interference, DoJ would eventually convict Hillary Clinton for obvious crimes (as that DoS whistleblower clearly detailed), and he could let that process happen on its own while he concentrated on undoing Obama's disastrous agenda and getting America back on track. A strategic error!

What if he had actually followed through on his promise to “lock her up”? How might the last four years have worked out very differently, and what might have been avoided? We know what happened: the exposure of the fraudulent Crossfire Hurricane counter-intelligence investigation that precipitated the faux Mueller investigation, the transition to the Ukraine impeachment farce, the Democrats’ political exploitation of the Chicom virus, and other sundry Democrat-media attacks along the way. We also observed the tepid defense of the President throughout the last four years by Establishment Republicans, especially what passed for Republican leadership in the US Senate and also at the RNC. This was especially evident during the first two years when many RINOs in the House of Representatives apparently expected President Trump to resign or be impeached, as some 38 retired rather than stand for reelection in 2018. Another problem was the completely ineffective Republican political response (nonexistent?) to the Democrats’ lawfare efforts to stymie President Trump’s executive orders through endless injunctions filed before Democrat-friendly judges. Finally, we know that despite near-universal resistance by the political class and legacy media to his agenda, President Trump’s accomplishments were indeed Herculean. But what more might he have accomplished had he used the power of his office (within the law) to actually go after the crooks?

The theory here is that allowing Hillary Clinton to escape justice emboldened Trump’s political enemies. The continued lack of accountability for everyone caught up in the FISA abuse, lying to Congress, and other felonies merely caused the Democrat-media complex to double-down on their attempts to “get Trump.” That led directly to weakened support among Republican members of Congress, which undermined the Trump agenda's pursuit as time went by. The Democrats signaled early on in 2017 that they were not interested in compromise, so the only political way-ahead was to strengthen Republican majorities in Congress. And the best way to do that would have been to convince the American people— including the Democrat rank-and-file—of the crimes committed by Hillary Clinton and the Obama apparatchiks.

Holding Hillary accountable would have sent a strong signal to the political class that he truly meant business and would have strengthened his support among Americans who have become increasingly cynical about the two-tiered justice system that protects those in the political class. Aggressively going after the FISA abusers in the FBI, DoJ, and FISC would have changed the political calculus going into the 2020 election, too, as many Americans still doubt the criminality of the likes of Brennan, Comey, Clapper, McCabe, Strzok, and many others.

Adding some much-needed oil to the slowly grinding wheels of justice would have paid other dividends, too. Some indictments and convictions of key players would have emboldened Trump’s allies in Congress and forced the media to cover the trials, which would have undercut the false Democrat-media narratives of “Trump-Russia collusion,” “Ukraine quid-pro-quo,” and “Trump’s inept virus response killed Americans.” In reality, all of those narratives were projections by Democrats of their own sins! Would the Democrats have won control of the House in 2018 if there had been a few key indictments before the election? Imagine how much different 2019 and 2020 would have been without Nancy Pelosi in the House speaker’s chair! There would have been no Ukraine impeachment farce and a much stronger and more unified Republican Party going into the 2020 election.

Finally, I suspect the Democrats were quite surprised at their own good fortune as President Trump essentially let them all off the hook when they knew from direct experience that their own presidents had no compunction about using federal agencies to go after their political enemies. That President Trump fought his battles within the lifelines of the Constitution and the law are admirable and a credit to his character, but in the end, it proved disastrous in the political realm. Politics isn’t the law; it is warfare by other means, to paraphrase von Clauswitz. Letting the FBI and DoJ bury, delay, and twist the various investigations into Hillary Clinton’s and the Obama-era criminality was a tragic political mistake. President Trump’s decision to let Hillary Clinton walk ultimately was fatal to his presidency.


Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education. This functions as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political topics, such as the military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs. Twitter: @STUinSD

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