Where is the red line(s) that Donald Trump could not cross? The line(s) that if Trump crosses would lead to congressional Republicans, GOP leadership, and Trump supporters abandoning their support for Trump, and even strongly opposing him? The line that if Trump crosses would warrant the end of a presidency, either through intense public backlash or impeachment and removal? Do any of these lines exist?
Since none of the congressional Republicans, GOP party leaders, or prominent pundits have called for an end to Trump’s presidency, we can conclude the following are NOT red lines for these Trump supporters:
- failure to release one’s tax forms (even after saying he would do so, giving bogus excuses);
- failure to divest one’s business and putting one’s financial assets into a blind trust (while lying about doing so);
- using one’s office to promote one’s personal business—and enriching one’s self by allowing foreign countries, GOP, and U.S. taxpayers to utilize these businesses;
- repeated attempts to encourage foreign subversion in the electoral process–e.g., publicly encouraging Russia to find Hillary’s emails; multiple meetings or correspondence with Russian contacts to find political dirt or discuss campaign strategy; giving Russian intelligence officer campaign data;
- repeatedly undermining the integrity of the electoral process–i.e., by promoting lies and baseless claims—e.g., “millions voted illegally for Hillary Clinton,” “election is rigged,” etc.; withholding funding to the U.S. Postal Service to slow down the collection of mail-in ballots….
This list is not exhaustive, and I didn’t really finish, but yesterday, I saw a twitter thread; by Paul Rosenzweig, a former federal attorney who worked under Kenneth Starr, when the latter was a Special Counsel investigating President Clinton. He made a top ten list of Trump’s worst actions, and I’m going to use it to continue the list:
10. He enabled dictators and attempted to destroy alliances. From his fruitless embrace of Kim Jong Un to his wholesale assault on NATO, Trump tried to destroy the existing system of international order. Because of him, Xi is rampant in the world. Uighurs are the subject of genocide. And Trump lost Hong Kong.
9. He and his family profited from the Presidency. He made the government pay his companies for the privilege of keeping him safe. His children and hotels made money. He lied when he said he was stepping back from his business. And most recently, he raised money for his legal defense that went to his personal profit. (Reid’s note: Foreign governments and businesses could pay Trump by going to his hotels and golf courses, which at least violates this spirit of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution. This by itself is an impeachable offense in my view.)
8. He was Russia’s pawn. Probably not an active agent, but systematically, Trump preferred Russian interests to American. His failure, at the end, to condemn the poisoning of Navalny is of a piece with his pressure on Ukraine to cave to Russian demands. He was, in short, Russia’s useful idiot.
7. His wholesale assault on the rule of law destroyed legal norms wholesale. Examples include: pardon abuse; refusal to abide by congressional oversight; firing of Inspectors General; use of Acting appointees to avoid confirmation; assault on the free press; pressure on DOJ to conduct criminal investigations; etc. The list is nearly endless and the recovery of the rule of law will take a long time.
6. He deployed military troops against American civilians. [I can’t believe this is this low on the list]. Not since the aftermath of the Civil War have American military troops been used to suppress dissent. Deploying troops in this way is especially destructive of democracy.
5. Trump empowered and enabled racism and white supremacy. His words and actions have enabled hatred in ways that no president should ever do. From support of Confederate flags to Charlottesville to “shithole” countries to calling for the police to respond violently against Black Lives Matter, the list of his racist tropes is near endless. If you support Trump, you may not be a racist, but his racism is not a deal-breaker.
4. Separating families. Never before has anyone been so heartless. Making children a tool for dissuading parents from illegal immigration has to rank as the single cruelest policy decision. It was emblematic of a greater racial animus against “Mexican rapists” and Muslim “terrorists” but by itself, on its own merits it is singularly abhorrent and evil. Deter immigration if you wish — but not on the backs of 6-year-old kids.
3. His assault on the truth has changed American democracy. We now live in a world where QAnon conspiracies are accepted by Members of Congress; where voters think that the mainstream press is “fake news” and where even small lies (like the Alabama hurricane sharpie) are discounted. We need to find a way to restore truth to the discussion. Facts matter — Trump tried to destroy that.
2. [Again, I can’t believe this one is not the top] He tried to steal an election. Building off the assault on truth he created the big lie that the election was stolen and incited a violent assault on the Capitol in an attempt to change the result. Several died, and along the way, the Republican party was destroyed as a serious institution. IT may live for a while; it may even win now and then. But Trump and the party are forever stained as insurrectionist revolutionaries.
1. And finally, top of the list: 400,000+ dead from Covid. The number was never going to be zero, but it could have been so much lower if Trump had been a leader instead of a narcissistic fool. Failure to wear masks; hydrochloroquinine; UV light up the butt; 20 million vaccines unaccounted for; lack of leadership across the board. The tragic loss of life is almost incalculable. Families and communities devastated. All because Trump couldn’t fathom that the virus was not about him. (Reid’s note: Trump holding continue to hold campaign rallies, while not promoting the wearing of masks should be included in this.)
I could quibble about the ranking, and we could add more to the list. But the critical point to reiterate is that none of these actions warranted the end of a presidency or abandoning support for a president—not for congressional Republicans, GOP leadership, or the “conservative” pundits and voters who supported and continue to support Trump. If this were not the case, they would have abandoned Trump and called for his resignation and supported his impeachment and removal; they would be calling for the Senate to convict him now. Since they did not—since some of them actively defended and supported him–and continue to do so– we can also logically infer that they believe future presidencies, Democrat or Republican, should not come to an end based on these behaviors and actions. Are these really the standards they believe should apply to future presidents? If not, they need to urge the Senate to convict Trump. Or at the very least they should publicly condemn Trump and his presidency—they should condemn the people that supported these behaviors, either actively or passively. Again, this is if believe the behaviors above warrant the end of a presidency.
And if these things do not warrant the end of a presidency, what does? Is there anything that Trump could have said or done that would have caused these Trump supporters to abandon their support and call for the end of his presidency? If there is not, I would argue that they have made Trump into a cult figure or king. Both have no place in American politics and are wholly un-American.