President Trump's Oval Office address Tuesday to the American people and to the world left much to be desired. Why should global investors care about a domestic U.S. issue? The U.S. position as a military and economic powerhouse make the news out of Washington important for nearly every investment decision. A divided Congress and, it appears, a divided White House make for choppy investment waters. Uncertainty out of Washington is almost always bad for global investors.
Trump's Oval Office address was supposed to be all about illegal immigration and the necessity of a "wall" on America's southern border. President Trump campaigned on the wall and insisted that "Mexico will pay for the wall." Two years into his presidency and this campaign promise has not materialized. While some Democrats also joined Trump's call years ago, this issue has galvanized the left and the Democrats are willing to bet their control of the House over it. While I think the "wall" is more about politics than actually keeping out illegal immigrants, both political parties have used it successfully to rally their base.
Trump's speech was incoherent and he was either ill-prepared to make it or his aides dropped the ball in preparing him. The speechwriting was horrific and the message wasn't delivered correctly. Even Trump's tie was crooked. In recent days, many have called into question the loyalty of Trump's cabinet and his inner circle. According to the now infamous New York Times Op-Ed a vocal group of White House officials are actively opposing the president. Now while I don't agree with many of Trump's policies, he is the elected president of the United States. To be clear I didn't vote for him nor will I in the upcoming election but he has a right to govern as he sees fits. The Congress and the Supreme Court also have a right to check his authority under the U.S. Constitution. However, actively denying and distorting the President's orders to further one's personal agenda is nothing less than treason. If you don't like Trump or his administration, you have an obligation to quit as so many officials have quit before you. But to actively deny him the right to govern while pretending to work for him isn't advocacy - it's criminal.
In an editorial published in this newspaper Tuesday, a "soft coup" in the White House was discussed. While the term may be an exaggeration, the point is undeniable. If Trump is to be defeated in 2020, it should be done fair and square. Trump has a right to choose a cabinet and his cabinet has an obligation to execute his wishes within the framework of the law. Attempting to avert policy haphazardly because of one's own personal beliefs isn't professional, it isn't ethical and it isn't legal.
Should the NYT Op-Ed be true, should the White House be in the midst of active opposition to the commander in chief, the U.S. government is in real trouble. Law enforcement has an obligation to apprehend those individuals that are furthering their agenda in direct opposition to the president's for their own personal gain or on behalf of foreign governments or corporations. With this backdrop of real turmoil in Washington coupled with increased economic uncertainty globally, all investments need to be re-evaluated and a move to safe harbors might be best until the dust settles.