This thread will be a repository for evidence that Trump behaves and thinks more like an autocrat than a leader of a democracy. Here’s something I saw today. Trump was asked if he thought Robert Mueller would be fair and this was his response, along with a comment about it (which I agree with) from Matthew Miller, who was a spokesperson for DOJ under Obama:
This to me is by far the most interesting part of Trump’s exchange with reporters yesterday. In his mind (and I believe he thinks this), intervening multiple times in the investigation and laying waste to the FBI = just fighting back. pic.twitter.com/YeznxwBFfO
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) January 25, 2018
This also makes me think of Trump’s expression of anger and frustration at Jeff Sessions–specifically, that Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation; that had he known that, Trump would never have chosen him as AG; that he had some respect for Eric Holder, AG under Obama, because Trump claimed that Holder defended Obama out of loyalty. This creates the strong impression that Trump doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the independence of the DOJ or the AG and other federal appointees or workers are loyal to the Constitution, not the president. Trump doesn’t seem to understand or believe in the rule of law, but prefers, and sees no problem with, the rule of man.
class authoritarian rhetorical tactic: there are only two options, my way or WAR https://t.co/Kdum6iRtqJ
— Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) July 18, 2018
.@TerryMoran: “Have you considered using emergency powers to grant yourself authorities to build this wall without congressional approval?”
President Trump: “Yes, I have. And I can do it if I want” #BorderWall pic.twitter.com/8zpW5eBJdj
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 4, 2019
The President is already attempting to undermine the legitimacy of a potential victory by the opposition party. What would you say if you saw it in another country? pic.twitter.com/lcanaxLveQ— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) February 9, 2019
In the 2016 election Trump also questioned the legitimacy of the election.
Here he suggests he might not accept the election results.4/8/2019
Trump told border agents to break U.S. law and defy judicial orders https://t.co/Mq2yyX42Mo pic.twitter.com/AYi6B4lNMz— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) April 8, 2019
4/24/2019 A list of authoritarian behavior made by Republican lawyer who worked for Kenneth Starr.
Things I never thought I’d see:— Paul Rosenzweig (@RosenzweigP) April 24, 2019
1. DOJ refusing to honor a subpoena from Congress for information relating to the census.
2. WH fradulently seeking to interpose executive privilege to prevent McGhan’s testimony where it has clearly been waived. /1
Trump re-tweeted this:
After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump – no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) May 5, 2019
44 thoughts on “Trump: Authoritarian Thread”
Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit (from the NYT)
Whoa! For those who said Trump would never fire Mueller, now we know they’re almost certainly wrong. Even though this isn’t really surprising, this news still jolts me a little and unnerves me–I guess, it’s the reality of this hitting me.
There’s also this:
And apropos of this thread,
Also, a few days ago there was an Axios story, FBI director threatened to resign amid Trump, Sessions pressure
From WaPo: Trump sought release of classified Russia memo, putting him at odds with Justice Department
(The thought that’s in my mind:) Trump has zero understanding of the importance of DOJ being largely independent of the POTUS, he doesn’t seem to understand or believe that this is really problematic and dangerous threat to the country, which is a democratic republic. Either that, or he doesn’t care–that he’s seeking to erase the barriers between his office and the DOJ. If this is true, then Trump, himself, is a serious threat to our county.
DOJ’s Southern District of New York raided offices, home, and apartment of Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen today. Because of attorney-client privilege, getting approval to this is not easy.
Trump equating this raid with an “attack on our country in a true sense.”
Trump repeatedly calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”
Trump saying this is really unfair, citing that this is spurred by Democrats (and a few Republicans)–Comey, Mueller–Republicans. Trump appointed Rosenstein and Sessions (obviously). The Attorney in the SDNY also was appointed by Trump (and Trump broke protocol by interviewing him).
Time to ask Congressional Republicans what they will do if Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein.
Sessions did this, on advice of career DOJ staff, because Sessions was involved with the Trump campaign.
Sounds like Trump thinks DOJ officials should be loyal to himself, not the Constitution or rule of law.
(Note: The article could have also gone in the (in)competence thread.)
At a high school leadership summit.
Sessions resigns and Trump installs someone who seems loyal to him.
Trump: Russia Investigation (1)
Trump: Russia Investigation (2)
Uh oh. Not feeling good about this.
Or this (Note: I didn’t read the article–I’m reacting to the tweet.)
I don’t think this is hyperbolic or snarky. Americans may not want to accept the idea that we have a POTUS who is governing like an authoritarian, but the reality is that there is too much evidence to dismiss this notion. President Trump doesn’t not respect the rule of law, separation of powers, or the U.S. Constitution, and evidence suggests he would undermine the Constitution to protect and empower himself. If we’re not in a Constitutional crisis, we have taken another significant step in that direction.
A collection of despotic behavior by Trump regarding the Russian investigation. It is blatant.
An Authoritarian Lithmus Test
That’s what the Harvard prof mentions at the end of this clip. Decide for yourself if Trump qualifies.
With regard to suspending due process, I believe Nyhan is referring to this Trump tweet:
Trump is either ignorant of our Constitution and laws, or he doesn’t respect them at all.
1. The claim that the book is the exact opposite of what’s really going on is highly dubious. It’s almost impossible to imagine how that could be the case, based on Trump’s own behavior and words.
2. Irony: Trump’s complaining about no consequences for someone making stuff up, when he championed birtherism (claimed to have evidence coming real soon); accused Ted Cruz’s father of being involved in the Kennedy assassination; Obama ordering wire-taps of the Trump Tower; millions voted illegally for Clinton; improper unmasking of Trump team, and I’m sure I’m forgetting things.
3. Comments about changing the libel laws falls in line with his dictatorial mindset. On this note also see the article below, which compiles a list of Trump’s authoritarian attitude towards protests:
(The headline is slightly misleading. Trump was complaining about at Kavanaugh hearing, and a charitable reading could be that he was complaining about the decorum and appropriateness of the protests at the hearing. Still, the article does list other comments by Trump that create a disturbing pattern.)
This is un-American, totally inappropriate for a POTUS. That Trump is comfortable with this, likely welcomes this type of fawning, puts him in a really bad light.
Not sure where else to put this. (I can’t find post on incitement of violence or extra-judicial killing–These comments remind of when he said Duterte was “doing it the right way.” This was in relation to Duterte’s extra-judicial killings.)
Maybe the worst thing Trump has said about the free press:
This is bad. The type of thing that should ruin his credibility. Autocratic and un-American. Another strong signal he is unfit to be POTUS. (I think there’s some projecting this, too.)
If Republican leaders were responsible and patriotic, they would join with Democratic leaders and push back hard against this.
(Dale’s first tweet is about Trump’s remarks at a rally in West Virginia(?) today.)
He is trying to get people to not believe what he said about the Russia investigation being a reason for firing Comey. Holt wasn’t fudging. At best, Trump misspoke, but that is stretch in my view. I’m worried that this is going to confuse people who don’t pay close attention to the news. He’s blatantly attacking the credibility of the press. It’s one of the main ways he can escape from the damning information that is almost sure to come.
I can’t recall Trump saying anything close to this:
Trump gearing up to attack press–with more than just words
That’s what it seems like, based on a statement from WH spokesman Judd Deere in a WaPo article about Trump not sticking to his campaign promise of visit his properties.
This is not good.
Going after Google?
This idiotic tweet makes me want to fight someone. Google is a publicly held, independent entity, and even if DID skew search results politically (which I think would be bad for business), I wouldn’t have a problem with it. First, if I thought this was true and didn’t like the results, I’d freaking find another favorite search engine, and if others didn’t like it, so would they.
Second, the MOMENT a government tries to regulate something like this is the beginning of the end of this entity, or at least its dominance in the marketplace. Because people like me (who may be a tiny minority, sure) will refuse to use it in favor of something not regulated. And if that means going underground, then that’s what I’ll do. I will beg others to follow me as well.
Holy heck. Is it me, or does this seem close to signaling to his followers to revolt if he’s impeached? I’ll say this: This is how a dictator speaks, not a real president.
Signs That Trump Might Be Gearing Up to Fire Rod Rosenstein
The memo in question is the one written by Rep. Nunes. In this WaPo article, Rosenstein, and FBI Director Wray recently told Chief of Staff Kelly to hold of on releasing Nunes’s memo, because it reveal classified information. The quote above suggests that if Rosenstein opposes the release of the memo, Trump may use that as a pretext to fire or force Rosenstein out. (See this Just Security article, Why It’s Far Worse for Trump to Fire Mueller.)
From CNN: Exclusive: Trump asked Rosenstein if he was ‘on my team’
Trump asked Rosenstein this last December. There is an unmistakably clear pattern that suggests Trump believes his appointees have to be loyal to him, not to the Constitution and rule of law. What happens if there are clear signs that the POTUS believes this? Yes, he’s unfit to be POTUS, but is moving toward impeachment/removal unjustified?
And that might not be the worst thing Trump did:
It’s not going to be surprise if Trump fires Rosenstein. In fact, it seems more likely than not at this point.
Edit: More on the Nunes Memo (2/1/2018)
In the first post, Trump mentioned “fighting back.” You don’t fight back against the investigation against you–that’s not how it works. If an innocent person is on trial, if they’re being investigated for committing a crime, his/her innocence doesn’t allow them to fight back–doesn’t allow them to attempt to thwart or undermine the investigation, even if you’re the POTUS. Trump is behaving like a tyrant, an absolute dictator.
2018 State of Union Speech
A Slate article mentions a part of Trump’s State of the Union speech:
What it sounds like is a call to give secretaries (obviously appointed by Trump) the power to remove federal employees. One thing about Trump is that he’s fairly transparent about his authoritarian tendencies.
Comparison between Trump and Erdogan
WaPo op-ed: Want to See Where Trump is Taking America? Look at Turkey Under Erdogan
From CNN Trump Was Joking When He Accused Democrats of Treason, White House Says
This was in speech, referencing when Democrats didn’t clap during Trump’s State of the Union speech. Trump called in “un-American,” and he assented when someone in the audience shouted out, “treasonous.”
From WaPo: Trump’s Marching Orders to the Pentagon: Plan a Grant Military Parade
When respectable Americans are troubled by Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, included conservatives, putting on a big military parade will only reinforce those impressions. Like other things, I can’t help but take this as a sign that Trump doesn’t care that he’s projecting this image.
Former acting CIA director:
In January 2017, there were reports that Trump wanted a big military parade for his inauguration. Snopes says they couldn’t confirm that story, but it seems more believable given the recent news.
This, by itself, may not be a sign of authoritarianism per se, but I believe most presidents hold press conferences because they believe that in a democracy, they are accountable to the public, and this accountability is important. I’m pretty sure they don’t enjoy doing this. Trump has answered questions from the press in other settings, but doing a White House press conference has a symbolic significance of this accountability. It’s a way a POTUS can signals that she understands that and values this public accountability, and also that the affirms the important role the press has in our democracy. Trump avoiding this sends the opposite signal, especially when viewing this within the broader context of his rhetoric and actions.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) responds:
What stood out: None of the politicians call out the president on this–they don’t even bat an eye. I’m not sure if that would be appropriate in this setting, but I feel like someone should say something. This is one of many examples that show that the President really doesn’t understand and respect the rule of law–he doesn’t seem to even understand why by-passing due process is a bad thing. I mean saying, “Take the firearms first; go through due process second” is almost like a line from an SNL parody to me. Now, maybe he means changing laws to expedite due process in some situations, but he’s not expressing himself well. However, the problem is that he has no self-awareness about how people will perceive this, no understanding that what he’s saying is problematic. I still think he doesn’t understand and respect fundamental principles like rule of law and separation of powers and the reasons these things are so critical.
So irresponsible. There’s no justification for him doing this.
Trump, at best, has a reckless disregard for maintaining the legitimacy of the courts. Personally, I think he’s intentionally trying to undermine their legitimacy, just as he does with any institution or person that can hold him accountable. The is the behavior of an autocrat.
Favorable Comments About Other Authoritarians and Dictators
This kinda gives me the shivers, as I suspect the “right people” are people that are loyal to Trump, not the Constitution. “Yet” indicates that he’s trying to get those people in while pushing out those loyal to the Constitution.
Kim Jong-un also assassinated his half-brother with a deadly nerve agent.
Trump’s understanding and approach to governing are more similar to an dictator than a U.S. president. Republicans would have their hair on fire if a Democratic president said this, and they would be justified.
Trump claimed he was kidding:
It didn’t seem that way to me. Trump doesn’t seem to joke around much. Plus, his comments are in line with other authoritarian behaviors and attitudes that he has displayed or have been part of his administration.
Thread by economist:
This isn’t a favorable comment so much as the fact that Trump trusts Putin over our intelligence agencies.
Trump invited Viktor Organ, Hungary’s leader to the White House.
Not favorable comments per se, but here Trump is getting chummy with Putin, an authoritarian adversary that has interfered in our elections, attempting to sow discord in our country and continues to do so. Trump seeming to enjoy trashing the press with the guy who has had journalists murdered. As an American I feel this utterly disgusting, making me want to use unsavory language.
This fits the post:
Heavy Handed Intervention/Retaliation in Private Sector to Flex Muscles
Also, notice how his attitude towards Amazon and Facebook is all about how the impact himself (and his friends), not the impact on the country:
Thread on explaining economic consequences of what Trump’s doing:
This is outrageous and wrong.
This is based on three sources. So far the Postmaster General has resisted this, trying to explain that she can’t do this without proper review of the existing contract, and used slides to show the contract benefits USPS.
Consequences of Trump targeting Amazon.
I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t blame people who think Trump is threatening Harley-Davidson.
Trump attacking Amazon again.
Trump’s “ordering” private companies to do something. Who the heck does he think he is?! He’s not a dictator–or he’s not supposed to be.
My understanding is that the Fed Chair (Powell) and the Fed itself is supposed to act independently of politics and the federal government, including the White House. Just like the DOJ and FBI, Trump has broken norms that maintain importance independence of those institutions. Both are actions that are more consistent with an autocrat than a leader of a liberal democracy.
In light of Trump’s comments towards Powell yesterday:
It’s so wrong that Trump didn’t divest his business.
Also, the thread below shows impact of Trump’s tweet on the stock market:
Theory About Trump’s Conception of Truth and Lies
My hypothesis on Trump’s conception of truth and lies goes like this. To Trump, anything that is favorable to him is the “truth,” while anything that is not favorable are “lies,” or even a “disgrace.” This hypothesis seems unreasonable, but I think it does seem to fit. Today Trump also tweeted something that seems to confirm this:
He seems to be equating negative news with “Fake News.” And his ongoing attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the press, and the suggestion of taking away press credentials, are additional evidence of his authoritarian behavior.
From Jennifer Jacobs
(Aside: Trump is delusional if he thinks the meetings with Kim Jong Un, Putin, and NATO were great. If he thinks it’s great, then it must be great and everyone who says otherwise is fake.)
He’ll quote the New York Times when it provides favorable coverage for him. See what I mean?
He can claim to know Whittaker and not know him, whenever it suits him, and he has no qualms of doing things like this.
I agree with the following, and I think it’s relevant:
Notice that the people who say nice things about Trump are seen as favorable and good. I think this is related to the hypothesis above.
Trump says he will fire intelligence watchdog at center of Ukraine allegations that led to impeachment from WaPo.
If Trump is allowed to get away with this, without really showing a compelling reason for doing this, then this is another step in placing Trump above the law. He’s taking down the system of checks-and-balances, bit by bit. So many warning signals about Trump’s authoritarianism–specifically indications that he believes he is above the law. Some others that come to mind off the top of my head: criticizing AG Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, even though this was appropriate; publicly intimidating witnesses in the investigation, and other forms of obstructing justice in the Russia investigation. No one can say they didn’t know; that there was no evidence.
Trump rejects HHS watchdog’s report on severe hospital shortages from WaPo.
Another reinforcement of my perception that Trump conceives of information that is politically harmful or unflattering to him as untrue. How long will Americans put up with this?
More Evidence That Trump defines “Truth” as That Which Favors Himself and “Lies” as That Which Does Not
This is also something I associate with a dictator. Yeah, believing this about a POTUS seems unreasonable, but there is substantive evidence for this position.
Trump campaign demands CNN apologize for poll that shows Biden leading from CNN
Trump even attacks Fox News when they don’t give favorable news for Trump:
And notice how CNN is fine when it has a favorable poll, but when the poll is unfavorable, he demands an apology and threatens legal action. Ridiculous.
Other incidents that come to mind:
Firing an Inspector General after reading her report of shortages of testing and personal protective equipment.
Trump’s erroneous claim that Alabama would be hit by Hurricane Dorian, and the scramble to appease Trump afterward.
There’s the infamous claim of larger crowds at Trump’s inauguration, versus Obama’s–in spite of photos that proved otherwise. Trump pressured the National Park Services Director to provide photos that supported his claim.
And we could find many evidence of Trump praising people who have praised him. He gets nice letter from Kim Jong Un, and Trump claims they’ve “fallen in love.”
Here, Hillary Clinton lists several instances where Trump accuses a process of being rigged–when he comes out on the losing end–i.e., rigged if the end result doesn’t favor him, and well-done when it does.
Thread from journalist, Kurt Eichenwald:
I don’t think I completely agree with this thread from David Roberts of Vox, but I think he makes some good points:
2. Anyone who’s read my articles (or followed this feed) knows that I think the answer to these questions is both extremely clear & extremely important. To wit: it is not conscious AT ALL. It is 0.0% a strategy. At no point has Trump been capable of behaving otherwise.
3. Trump is a malignant narcissist, which means he’s got a gaping, insatiable beast of an ego that needs constant reinforcement & affirmation. He’s a slave to it (& is ultimately miserable, like all narcissists). It tells him what reality must be; he builds a world to support it.
4. To be a good liar — to “deceive,” as a conscious act — one must be able to hold reality & one’s lies separate. That very, very basic feature of most people’s cognitive landscape simply doesn’t apply to Trump. There is ONLY the raging ego & the world it demands.
5. This is why narcissists are so successful so often (at least for limited times): their internal architecture is profoundly unfamiliar to normal people. The separation — what I want/feel/need over here, the world & other people w/ their own needs over there — is absent.
6. Most people aren’t like that & have trouble believing others are. (Ask anyone who’s ever been in an abusive relationship w/ one; it can take a LONG time to accept that it is what it is.) People end up rationalizing narcissists’ behavior for them, just to make some sense of it. (emphasis added)
Pause: I know there is a tendency in me to find some rational explanation for words and deeds that make Trump seem totally ignorant, incompetent, mentally unstable, and autocratic. I resist this because to accept such ideas makes me feel like an irrational person. People who view a politician this way appear unreasonable, and maybe unhinged.
7. Anyway, I’ve been over this a million times. So why does it matter? Lies are lies, bad behavior is bad behavior, who cares how much is conscious? The answer is, it matters because it informs how you assess the ugly political situation we’re in.
8. If Trump is some sort of evil communications genius who figured out how to manipulate angry white people & the media enough to hack the system, take over a political party, & win the presidency, then the rest of us are, at least to some extent, exonerated.
9. We were fooled by an evil genius, who saw more deeply than us, tapped more cleverly into the zeitgeist. It’s unfortunate, but the solution to the problem is pretty clear — get rid of the evil genius & return things to normal.
10. But if Trump is a blundering, flailing buffoon, blinded by unquenchable need & bottomless resentment, incapable of the mental discipline necessary to distinguish fantasy from reality … well then responsibility for all this does not belong with him, but with US. The system.
11. America — its people, its media, its politics, its institutions, all its systems of self-correction — is so weakened that even a lumpen orange tangle of uncut venality can trample it. No evil genius required. Raw, theatrical ignorance & resentment will do.
12. Anybody can find themselves outmaneuvered by an evil genius. But when you find yourself laid low by a dimwitted jackass, it’s time for some introspection.
13. I’m not going to get into WHY America found itself so vulnerable in 2016. It’s some mix of decades of right-wing attacks on US institutions, rapid demographic changes, & lingering pain from the 2008 recession. The lion’s share of blame goes to conservative media, IMO.
14. But a thread on that stuff would take forever. My only point here is that it really DOES matter whether Trump is doing what he’s doing consciously, strategically, with a plan. If he’s not — and I think the evidence overwhelmingly supports that take — well, that’s real grim.
15. Among other things, it means the problems cannot be solved just by booting Trump out. America’s weakness — its susceptibility to bullshit, demagoguery, gaslighting, lies, & corruption — is greater than just Trump, and will outlast him.
16. In sum: the fact that Trump is diminishing & degrading America does not mean he is secretly brilliant & diabolical. It means America is secretly weak, afraid, and hollowed out — not nearly so powerful as it imagines. Er … Happy New Year!
17. All right, one other thing to add! (This is all going bye-bye when I nuke my archives on Monday night anyway.) A few people have cited the quote from Trump to Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes. Basically: “I bash the press so people won’t believe bad stories about me.”
18. Some people point to that as evidence that he DOES have a strategy. But I think it indicates just the opposite, The way Trump sees it, if X person/institution criticizes him, he attacks X. For any value of X. That’s all there is to it: press bashes him so he bashed press.
19. WE read special significance into it because for US the press is not just another institution; it is the main mechanism by which the electorate is informed. It’s *special*. To go after the press, despite its special status, must be part of some larger evil plan.
20. But to Trump, like any malignant narcissist, NOTHING is special – not the press, not veterans or Gold Star parents, not heads of state. To him, all that stuff is on a flat, undifferentiated plane of Not Me. He will eagerly wage war on any of it to protect his ego.
21. The press has no special status for him, it’s just something that is threatening his narcissistic ego protection. “You say bad things about me so I try to destroy you” — he would say the same to/about any person or institution.
22. I mean, consider: if you had a diabolical plan to systematically weaken a truth-finding institution so that you could lie without restraint … would you SAY SO, out loud, to a f’ing journalist? That’s not how diabolical plans work!
23. To me, this is a classic example of people projecting layered intentions onto Trump because the stupid, stupid truth is too disturbing to contemplate. He said, “you mean to me so I mean to you.” Surely there’s more to it than that? No. No, there isn’t.
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” 1984
Is Trump Getting Obsessed With His Pardoning Power?
Pressing DOJ to Go After Political Enemies
I worry that the average citizen isn’t as bothered about this as they should be. I would be far less worried if the congressional Republicans, who control Congress, would push back hard, but they’re not.
Reiterates how unfit Trump is to be POTUS. He’s acting like a dictator, not POTUS.
Reactions not only from Gonzales, but Alan Dershowitz and John Dean–all negative.
Inappropriate Demand for Loyalty
(On a side note, is a “a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger” is really qualified for her position?)
I’m putting the following clip below because Senator Corker, himself, describes the GOP as a “cult-like” and that seems closely related to an inappropriate demand for loyalty:
(Also, more evidence that Trump is delusional.)
Here, the loyalty involves the AG and specifically the loyalty refers to protecting Trump from an investigation. This is shockingly and blatantly wrong. It’s like he’s publicly saying, “I’m above the law.” The fact that the GOP has allowed this is so appalling and reprehensible.
Retaliation Against Individuals
Important to note that revoking Brennan’s classification can hurt the country. People like Brennan retain their security clearance because it allows them to assist those who are still in government. Therefore taking away his clearance, without good justification, can hurt the those working to protect the country.
I’m still not sure if Trump is using an insecure phone as well.
Sounds like obstruction of justice as well.
A tweet that supports impression Trump is obstructing justice:
Twitter thread from Carrie Cordero (Adjunct Professor @GeorgetownLaw Analyst @CNN & Contributing Editor @lawfareblog. Fmr USDOJ & IC national security lawyer.):
From WaPo: Inspector general who handled Ukraine whistleblower complaint says ‘it is hard not to think’ he was fired by Trump for doing his job
David Ignatius of WaPo does a good job of summarizing Trump’s recent moves to neuter individuals and mechanisms that would hold him (or any POTUS) accountable.
Some sections that stood out:
Also, this bit about the Steve Engel from DOJ’s Office of Legal Council (OLC), as well as AG Barr, have aided in this process:
Admiral McRaven’s letter is very short. I recommend reading it.
Alarms bells are ringing
Not related to security clearance issue, but still constitutes alarm bells ringing:
Ben-Ghiat is a professor that has studied Mussolini. Recommended.
Trump Acts More Like a Mob Boss
There is no honor among thieves.
Important thread explaining the complex relationship between the POTUS and DOJ/FBI, and how Trump is violating important norms, and why that matters. Recommended.
Trump tweets today:
He’s the POTUS–he should be able to get this information, and he could give it to DOJ. One could say that this would be interfering in the investigation, but his tweets already do that. People got mad at Bill Clinton being seen talking to Loretta Lynch, the then AG under Obama, because it created impression that he was influence investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. We don’t know what they even said, and Bill Clinton was not the POTUS at the time. Still, this was not insignificant Compare this to what Trump has been saying (e.g., mentioning Russia investigation for firing Comey and revoking security clearance for John Brennan).
Trump seems to be complaining that Sessions and the DOJ has hurt Republicans politically, implying that political considerations should trump legal ones. I’m pretty sure that some Americans will agree with Trump on this, and that makes me sad.
Congress should call Whitaker and anyone else present and question about what was said. If Trump did these things–and you add them his comments about Sessions (and Holder), asking for loyalty; firing Comey, etc.–Congress needs to do something. If a Democratic POTUS did this, a GOP Congress would be looking to impeach, and I think I would sympathize with them.
Examples of Demagoguery
After Trump made his first Oval Office prime time address, someone said that presidents usually try to calm the public, but this was the first time the POTUS tried to make them afraid. That comes to mind when seeing these two tweets today. What we know doesn’t warrant fear of immigrants and others coming in from the southern border.
He’s also tweeting this after a bombshell story last night that says Trump told Michael Cohen, his lawyer, to lie to Congress.
I believe Trump repeated what seems to be a fabrication about women being taped up with duct tape and dragged over the border by traffickers. Here’s a previous article about that, collecting the instances when Trump has said this:
Demagoguery and idiocy:
I’m not sure how much stock to put into this.
Marshall points out this old tweet:
Trump gearing up to fire FBI Director Wray?
Something to keep in mind:
Acting as if He’s Above the Law
From the article below:
This is a crazy position to argue. If I understand this, Congress is only suppose to legislate and not hold POTUS accountable.
Some quotes from the recent past:
Trump also said that he has that absolute right to pardon himself.
Evidence That Trump Doesn’t Value or Even Understand Liberal Democracy
This sounds like Trump equates “post-war democratic liberalism” in the world with Democratic liberals in the U.S.
For any other POTUS I would assume they misunderstood the question. With Trump, he may have a vague sense of what liberal democracy means, but what he says here suggests that he really doesn’t value it–it’s not something that he has a desire to strengthen and promote–like almost every other POTUS before him.
I admit that I didn’t know about the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution, but you would think the POTUS would know; and if he didn’t he would check with his advisers before saying something like the above.
These are alarm bells going off. I hope Americans are hearing them.
I would like to see prominent, former members of the Trump administration speak out now as well.
It’s getting worse. If congressional Republicans turn a blind eye–or actively support this–which I would expect, they’ve taken another significant step towards authoritarian rule.
Trump’s slow-motion Friday night massacre of inspectors general
Subverting Advise and Consent of the Senate
Trump has a bunch of acting directors–directors who have not gone through the Senate confirmation process. Here’s another:
Comparison with Trump and autocrats
Thread by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul (now a professor at Stanford):
How often has Trump expressed importance of democracy and important components of democracy?
It would be interesting if someone analyzed speeches, press conferences, and interviews of past presidents and compared this to Trump’s rhetoric. Expressing the importance of a free press, voting, free speech, rule of law–I took this for granted when previous presidents spoke about these things, but now I long to hear these words from a president–and I want to believe they believe it and know what they’re talking about.
I never really chronicled this–but it’s hard to record what is not said. But here’s one example:
Previous presidents would have said something in support of these Belarusan protestors, would have commented about the importance of listening and respecting the people, maybe warning the leaders not to violate the rights of the people. Trump rarely talks like this, and it’s just another indication that he thinks more like a dictator than a real POTUS.
Trump Wanted I.R.S. Investigations of Foes, Top Aide Says from the NYT
Here’s a quote from John Kelly that should be getting more attention in my opinion:
For any previous president, remarks like this from a former Chief of Staff and Homeland Secretary would have been a scandal that would have brought down the presidency.