December 16, 2019

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With cloud lifted, can Trump's leadership shine?

Editorial

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/3/2019 (265 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney General William Barr have ended the gravest threat to Donald Trump’s hold on the presidency of the United States. After a thorough 22-month investigation, Mr. Mueller found no evidence that Mr. Trump conspired with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Barr agreed.

This brings Mr. Trump and his administration out from under a political cloud, into the sunshine. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland may now have an opportunity to nudge Mr. Trump forward into a new, more relaxed style of leadership. Like the rest of the North Atlantic alliance, Canada has been waiting for Mr. Trump to figure out who America’s friends are and learn to be loyal to them. This could be the moment.

Cliff Owen / The Associated Press files</p><p>Special counsel Robert Mueller </p>

Cliff Owen / The Associated Press files

Special counsel Robert Mueller

Mr. Mueller and his team dug up plenty of dirt in the course of the Russia investigation. Close associates of Mr. Trump have pleaded guilty or been convicted of a string of crimes. Investigations are still proceeding into Mr. Trump’s family foundation, his business practices, his attempts to conceal his alleged adulterous sexual liaisons. There may be evidence worth discussing about obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump.

On the main issue, however — did he criminally conspire with a hostile foreign power to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and win the presidency? — Mr Trump is now in the clear. Now, the world will find out what kind of president Mr. Trump is when he does not face the imminent threat of impeachment.

On the evidence so far, Mr. Trump in the sunshine is a lot like Mr. Trump in the shadows — vindictive, self-pitying, divisive, eager to pick a fight. On reflection, he may notice that the special-counsel process, which consisted of studying documents, questioning witnesses and sifting facts, produced a conclusion that must command respect. In the world of reality TV and social media, fake news and spin can pass for reality. There still is such a thing as truth, however, and it does a president no harm to step out of the world of spin and ground himself in verifiable facts.

During the first half of his presidential term, Mr. Trump flattered and courted the most bloodthirsty dictators he could find — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — while sneering at Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

He has believed for many years that all U.S. presidents before him were fools, that America’s purported friends were parasites eating America’s lunch. Perhaps now, at this midterm moment of sunshine, he may be ready to look at some hard facts and reconsider who America’s friends are.

The U.S. has no closer friend, no more faithful supplier and customer, no more trustworthy ally than Canada. As thanks, we get tariffs against our steel and aluminum, a nasty quarrel with China and cellphone-maker Huawei that is not of our making and accusations of failing to pull our weight in the North Atlantic alliance. Our people have been taken hostage in China, and China has stopped its considerable purchases of Canadian canola, all because we kept our word to the U.S. and arrested the transiting Chinese tech executive they wanted. Where is the Trump administration when we need its help to resolve that case? Nowhere to be found.

Mr. Trump can now claim, like never before, to be a legitimate leader — the winner of an election, and not just Putin’s puppet. He should be encouraged to rise to the occasion.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.

History

Updated on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 at 5:04 PM CDT: adds word "alleged" before "adulterous sexual liaisons."

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