US Politics

Trump Attempts to Distract from Mueller Probe, Claims Ability to Revoke Birthright Citizenship

President Trump has claimed that he has the power to revoke a path to American citizenship through birthright via executive order – many observers claim this is a distraction from more substantive issues while others say it is outright unconstitutional. Tanner Kenney examines the legality of the maneuver and explores the events that led up to the decision.


On Wednesday, October 31st, 2018, following revelations that Republican operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman created a fake private investigations firm – Surefire Intelligence – to arrange payments for women to implicate Special Counsel Robert Mueller III in sex crimes, President Donald Trump claimed he has the power to revoke, via executive order, the pathway for those born on American soil to non-U.S. citizens to obtain American citizenship. Rumors of the potentially false allegations to-be levied against Mueller circulated in the days prior to the Office of the Special Counsel’s referral to the FBI of an investigation into the matter.

The Wohl-Burkman saga culminated in a bizarre press conference featuring the pair and a no-show accuser, allegedly due to the “fear” caused by death threats prior to her public appearance, even though the pair went on to name her in front of a handful of reporters. Given Trump’s penchant for conspiracy-mongering as well as the duo’s ties to his orbit, it becomes fairly obvious that the President’s announcement is an attempt to distract from the Special Counsel’s overarching investigation into election interference at the hands of international actors as Trump’s proclamation came merely hours before he was expected to make an announcement limiting the number of asylum-seekers the United States will accept as citizens, moving forward.

This policy-shift, itself, came on the heels of the Republican Party’s renewed focus on immigration just prior to Tuesday’s midterm elections. It certainly appears as though these well-timed PR stunts were as politically conscious as can be – following the arrests of the ‘#MAGABomber’ Cesar Sayoc and Tree of Life Synagogue mass-murderer Robert Bowers. Just weeks after the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khoshoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the bodies of two Saudi asylum-seekers washed ashore in New York State.

This type of political maneuver should come as little-to-know surprise for D.C. observers as the revelation of controversial policy proscriptions often comes at times when other topics of national debate have also found themselves under scrutiny. However, all others should also take note of Trump’s especially well-honed ability to avoid political demise when the most shocking allegations have been made against him. The primary example of Trump’s exceptional political luck occurred when the ‘Access Hollywood Tape’ was first released to the general public – and nearly simultaneously, the first trove in a succession of emails stolen from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server were released by WikiLeaks.

This coincidence appears more suspicious, over time, when examining the comments made and actions taken by former Trump Campaign Advisor Roger Stone who claimed to have spoken to Julian Assange, the Founder of Wikileaks, as well as Guccifer 2.0, the moniker for 12 Russian agents from the Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) tasked with, among other allegations, breaching Clinton’s server – actions reportedly confirmed by former White House Advisor Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Countless members of Trump’s orbit have professed offensive views since his ascension to the White House, and the President, himself, often promotes outlandish accusations that are demonstrably false, perhaps none moreso than his support of the ‘QAnon’ conspiracy. As such, one must ask the question – did the Trump Campaign as well as the Trump Administration receive assistance from non-American citizens and/or entities that may have played a role in these nefarious activities?

Moreover, much has been made about the timeline on which the Special Counsel’s office is operating, including their ability – or lack, thereof – to bring charges before a court less than 60 days prior to a federal election. Many have speculated that former Trump Campaign Adviser Roger Stone will be the next to receive an indictment from Mueller, and since the 2016 elections, Stone has done nothing but add to his already robust legal defense team whilst professing his innocence to anyone and everyone that will listen.

All of this comes at a time when citizens, journalists, lawmakers, legal experts, and more have called for increased regulation of the media outlets that can implicitly support non-factual claims merely by allowing their individual promotion, let alone dissemination, en masse; all of this comes at a time when the very language utilized by President Trump has come under fire for inciting violence against immigrants, Jewish citizens, Americans of color, and various minority groups. Additionally, some of those accused of crimes against minorities motivated by hatred are now citing Trump’s fiery rhetoric as vindication for their misdeeds.

Ultimately, it remains to-be seen if the Special Counsel’s Office will bring additional charges after the midterms, but it is hard to believe that the investigation will end with a whimper after taking with it the reputations and freedom of former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, former Trump Campaign Adviser Rick Gates, and attorney Alex van der Zwaan, among others, whilst former Trump Campaign Advisor George Papadapoulos maintains that he is a victim of entrapment.

Tanner Kenney is an energy and media professional with a background in journalism and received his M.S. in Global Affairs, Environment & Energy Policy from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Recently, Tanner has focused on the advocacy of sustainable development through renewable energy technologies, transportation efficiency, and inclusive public policy.

Please note that opinions expressed in this article are solely those of our contributors, not of Political Insights, which takes no institutional positions.

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