Even at his worse, Richard Nixon still had some modicum of respect for the law and America's justice system. Hence, his decision to resign as the Watergate investigation began to put him in a corner from which he could not escape. Such is not the case with Donald Trump who James Comey has tellingly compared to a Mafia boss. Trump cares for no one or nothing but himself and it matters nothing to him what harm he does to the nation or the world. Now, with both Robert Mueller and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York - a man appointed by Trump himself - appear to be closing in on revealing the ugly filth and criminality that define Trump, thinking Americans ought to be very worried about the future of our democracy and the rule of law. In a prior time, Republicans could have been trusted to put the country first, but such is no longer the case. A column in the New York Times looks at the likely political armageddon we are facing. Here are highlights:
Donald Trump can feel the breath on the back of his neck. Aggressive federal investigators . . . are getting closer to knowing things that I am sure Trump thought no one but the parties involved would ever know. This has frightened and enraged [Trump]
the president.There are reports that Trump is thinking of ways to thwart or constrict the Robert Mueller investigation, including the possibility of firing and replacing Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein, to whom Mueller reports. As The New York Times has reported, Trump has at least twice sought to fire Mueller.
[T]here is a pattern here: When the investigation verges into Trump’s areas of vulnerability, he seeks to squash it.
This is not the behavior of an innocent man. This is not the behavior of a “normal” president.
There is no doubt in my mind that a strong case could be made that Trump has consistently sought to obstruct justice. . . . Furthermore, no president should be made nervous about his or her financial dealings being made public. Indeed, almost every major party nominee for president in the last 40 years has released his or her tax returns. Trump, however, has refused.
There is clearly something there that he doesn’t want America to know, something damning and catastrophic. He will do anything to keep it from view, including bringing the government to its knees.
And now investigators have raided the room and office of his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen and will have access to the verboten.
There were always things that Trump bragged about, true, but even there he often did so with no proof. They were things that he thought grew his legend as a tycoon, cad and pop culture icon. The truth always seemed far less glamorous and far dodgier.
That truth, the part that he has kept shoved into the shadows, is his vulnerability. Trump clearly views full knowledge of whatever that truth is as mortally injurious to his own sense of repute and renown.
If Trump has lied to the people who still support him about the most central parts of his character, not just months or years ago, but on a consistent basis, and if those lies can be proved by actual documentary evidence of some sort, the whole house of cards crumbles.
Trump’s options for keeping his secrets concealed are shrinking by the day. Therefore, Jeff Sessions is not safe. Rosenstein is not safe. Mueller is not safe. The rule of law is not safe. Our democracy is not safe.
What happens from here will truly test this country. It will test the Constitution, our protocols and our conventions.
Maybe the founders and the hundreds of years of politicians following them should have predicted that a person like Trump could ascend to the presidency, but they didn’t, so they didn’t build in sufficient constraints and strictures.
If America must be damaged for him to escape unscathed, he will take that bargain without batting an eye.
And it is by no means clear that his cowardly Republican accomplices in Congress would do anything to prevent or punish him.
The country is in a perilous position. It is in the hands and under the thumb of a man now motivated by a primal survival instinct, a consuming egotism and a petrifying fear of ignominy.
At this point, nothing is beyond the possible, no matter how ill advised and how ultimately destructive. In Trump’s mind, I can only imagine, he has settled on a strategy in the case of his own administration’s Armageddon: If he’s going down, the whole system is going down with him.
Actually, the Founders did create a safeguard. It is called the Elector College and it envisioned the electors blocking an unfit demagogue from the White House. Sadly, in the 2016 election, the Electors failed their moral and civic duty and certified an unfit and dangerous individual. Those who did so, need to be held accountable. As for Congressional Republicans, if they do not act soon, they need to be held accountable by being replaced via the 2018 mid-term elections so that Congress can do what must be done to remove the Trump/Pence cancer. Yes, I suspect Pence is up to his eyeballs in all of this despite his Sergeant Schultz shtick .