The president is Walter Stokes, elected despite serious charges of Russian hacking. He’s the villain of my new novel“Deep Strike”. The heroes are three CIA agents who worked on the hacking probe and were outraged when Stokes got elected. At tremendous risk to themselves, they form a small group, called “Deep Strike”. Their leader is Steve Penn, who’s been with the CIA for thirty years.
Early on in the story, Penn arranges a secret meeting with a leading Republlican Senator, Bill Gurd, one of the few members of his party who still cares about principles. Steve explains what what “Deep Strike” is about. An edited excerpt:
“Senator, there’s a small group of us who worked on the hacking report. We’re very good at our job. We think Stokes is a great threat. Not just to America but the world.”
“Agreed,” said Gurd.
“Agreed also,” said Steve, “that at least for now, there’s no likelihood of a military coup.”
“Not yet,” said Gurd. “But who knows what crazy orders Stokes might try to give the generals down the road?”
“We can’t count on that,” said Steve. “Which means that the Congress and the Senate are the only ones who can protect this country. But what are you doing? …. “It’s too soon,” said Gurd.
“Too soon? Do we wait until he launches a real war to distract attention from the huge mess he’s created at home? What do you think he would do if there were another terrorist attack in this country? It would be like the Reichstag Fire.”
“Some of us are worried about just the same possibility,” said Gurd.
“Only some? Why isn’t there a mutiny?”
“The 25th Amendment – you know it by heart, Senator.”
Gurd took another a long sip of his drink. ”If the vice president can convince the majority of the cabinet that the president is incapacitated in some way, then they inform the speaker of the house and president of the Senate and the Vice President then takes over.”
“A kind of mutiny,” said Steve.
“Except,” said Gurd, “there’s no way this vice president is going to do that – not yet anyway. My fellow Republicans control both houses. You think they’re going to toss out their own president? Not even if there were pictures of him on YouTube buggering the pope!”
Gurd put his hand on Steve’s arm. “Let me give you a bit of American history, son, something most people haven’t heard. When Ronald Reagan totally lost it in his second term, when his attention span was nil – nil, the folks around him finally become alarmed enough to consider using the 25th Amendment. But even then, they never did. Instead, they covered up for him, left him in office until the very end, with his quivering finger on the nuclear button.”
“What about impeachment?” asked Steve. ..
“Same problem,” said Gurd, stroking his goatee. “You still need a majority in the House and two thirds in the Senate. Bottom line, son, to date, not a single U.S. president has been removed from office by impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate. God knows more than a handful merited it.”
“So you’re willing to let a lunatic control the nuclear codes.”
“Lunatic? Let us not exaggerate.”…
“Ask any good psychiatrist,” said Steve. “I have. Plenty have written about it. He’s a pathological liar, an extreme narcissist--out of control.”
Gurd raised both hands. “All right. Let’s suppose he’s not completely sane. He’s also a viper. Most of my colleagues are cowards to the core. Don’t expect any rush to oppose him. Not until they think he’s been defanged.”
Steve leaned forward again to refill Gurd’s empty glass. “There’s something else you haven’t mentioned, Senator,” he said. “We found that the Russians also hacked into the Republican National Committee’s files. You can bet they dug up plenty of outrageous stuff: corruption, hypocrisy, sexual habits that would make a Moscow whore blush.”
The senator’s lips tightened. “Yes, I must say I have heard something along those lines.”
“None of what they found ever got out to the media,” said Steve. “We’re pretty sure the Russians fed some of the wildest tidbits to Stokes so he can keep uncooperative Republicans in line.”
“The Russians must also have plenty of stuff on Stokes himself,” said Gurd.
“Do they have stuff on you too, Senator?”
Gurd avoided Steve’s gaze. “They may have.”
“Jesus,” said Steve, raising both arms. “Does that mean it’s all over? You’ve already surrendered? How outrageous do things have to get for you people to act?”
The senator put down his glass. “Look, Steve, I can get the Republicans to crawl out from under wherever they’re hiding– and I include myself there – but only if you’ve got overwhelming evidence to nail the bastard. It’s got to be stuff that will make even the white workers in Milwaukee scream for his scalp. Give us that, maybe we can do something.”
“That’s all I promise. But I’ll give it everything I’ve got.”
“What about the stuff the Russians have on you?”
“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
“Deep Strike” is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition or soft cover, and on demand at local bookstores.