On the road to a constitutional crisis
As anyone who reads me knows, I'm not one for hyperbole. I'm rather sanguine about most things. Circumstances which seem horrible somehow work themselves out.
But this tweet from Donald Trump should give everyone pause.
Trump wants to shut down the Mueller investigation so badly that he can taste it. In this tweet, he is clearly threatening to get involved in the investigation, with the unsaid threat being to end it.
Make no mistake: a president who shuts down an investigation into his own alleged wrongdoing is the textbook definition of a dictator. By doing so, he is saying that he is above the law, and anything he does, whether as president or a candidate, is beyond investigation.
This becomes more urgent after the Trump crackerjack legal team leaked the Mueller questions—questions which they themselves wrote, extrapolating from conversations held with Mueller. The questions, as envisioned by Jay Sekulow, all aim at collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election. And now, on top of that, we have reports that Robert Mueller is laying the groundwork to subpoena Trump before his grand jury.
Trump is the most dangerous type of person to inhabit the presidency. He is, simply put, a moron. But moreover, he has an outsized expectation of what the powers of the presidency entail. Yes, the presidency has become much more powerful since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But, in the end, the office is a constitutional one, bound by constitutional strictures. Trump sees the presidency as an all-powerful post. He can do anything while in office, and use the office to obscure anything he did during his previous life. Combine stupidity with narcissism, and you have the ingredients for a crisis.
Trump is also in his own bubble, believing that the majority of voters—not only his base—are with him. From a Greg Sargent post this morning:
But polls show that large majorities support the investigation into both collusion and Trump’s finances, and majorities say Mueller’s investigation is legitimate and being conducted fairly.
So not only is he operating from a place of ignorance, he's having that ignorance reinforced by his lackeys. He truly believes that if he is subpoenaed, or if he moves against Rod Rosenstein and Mueller, the masses will swell up in righteous indignation to support him. We're reaching levels of delusion not seen since Hitler in the Führerbunker.
The Department of Justice's independence is a tradition. It is only that. It is not enshrined in law. Trump has powers to interfere. The question then becomes: Will Congress and the American people move to protect Justice's independence? Will the Supreme Court, if it has to adjudicate, check the assumed powers of the presidency? We are, quite literally, adrift in uncharted waters.
The Founders foresaw a man like Trump assuming the presidency, and provided methods for his removal via impeachment. But Trump's party is in control of that lever, and so far has been loath to pull on it. Republicans may soon have to make a monumental choice.
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