Alan Zendell, September 30, 2019
James Hohmann, in today’s Washington Post Daily 202 Newsletter, characterized President Trump’s reaction to the House’s impeachment inquiry as running the smashmouth playbook he learned from the infamous Joe McCarthy’s henchman Roy Cohn, who was Trump’s mentor for more than two decades. Hohmann noted that it’s the same playbook he’s used every time he was accused of wrongdoing, from Justice Department complaints over racial discrimination to the Mueller investigation.
He’s correct, but why not just call it what it is? He’s acting like a thug, behaving the way gangsters and mafia bosses do. Threats and wild accusations usually served him well in business, but as we’ve often noted, the Presidency isn’t the real estate business. Will it work this time?
If all Trump did was call people names and invent crazy conspiracy theories, the people responsible for deciding his fate would just roll their eyes and ignore him. But he has gone far beyond that. He suggested that the whistleblower who filed the complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry is guilty of a crime that carries the death penalty, though his own Director of National Intelligence and Inspector General for Intelligence have both stated that the whistleblower acted legally in every regard and must be protected under federal law.
It gets worse. You know Trump is desperate when he sends his Weasel in Chief Stephen Miller out to defend him on the Sunday talk shows. Miller managed to anger almost everyone with his sneering, condescending defense of Trump, asserting that he’s the real whistleblower, blasting the lid off a plot to undermine his presidency. Miller, whose racist, far-right attitudes are frighteningly rabid, has had Trump’s ear since the day he was inaugurated.
Although every member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrats and Republicans, clearly asserted that the whistleblower’s identity must remain confidential, and that he or she must be protected from retaliation or physical harm, Trump keeps demanding to “face his accuser.” After he labeled the whistleblower a criminal worthy of death, some of his supporters offered a $50,000 bounty to anyone who leaks the whistleblower’s identity. His supporters will claim that Trump is not responsible for the bounty, but even if you believe that, once it was made public, the President of the United States was obligated to denounce it. Don’t hold your breath.
Trump has further demanded to know who gave information to the whistleblower, though it’s not clear that the complaint depended on leaked information. All of these actions taken together violate not only the whistle blower protection statute, but they can only be viewed as witness tampering. That’s pure gangsterism, crime with a capital “C”. Trump’s crimes are far more serious than anything included in the articles of impeachment filed against Bill Clinton. Clinton’s actions were inappropriate and irresponsible. The centerpiece of Clinton’s trial in the Senate was lying about a sex act, the least serious of the offenses committed by Trump.
Trump’s complete disregard for law, much less any standard of decency or morality will undo him in the end. Most of his supporters constantly wrestle to control their nausea as they march in lockstep for fear of Trump’s base, which a Texas preacher suggested might react with open rebellion, i.e., civil war. Trump has no doubt heard that too, but it hasn’t occurred to him to condemn that kind inciting rhetoric.
If you think that couldn’t happen, the unhappy reality is that among Trump’s base are some very nasty people: white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and survivalists living under the radar, heavily armed and paranoid. Trump has implied several times that he won’t go down without taking his enemies with him, and we’ve seen numerous times how Trump’s suggestions have been followed by horrific violence. His reckless disregard for the general welfare and safety of the nation all by itself makes Trump unfit to continue in office. His lust for power and greed obviously know no bounds.
With the impeachment inquiry less than a week old, Trump’s behavior is already off the rails. In addition to the Ukraine mess, he’s been pressuring the Australian Prime Minister to find evidence that the Mueller investigation was really the witch hunt he claims it was. Crazy, you say? There is a grave danger that Trump’s mental health will deteriorate as President Nixon’s did when confronted with his own inescapable guilt. Nixon’s Chief of Staff was able to build a firewall around him, but there will be no way to silence Trump’s Twitter feed, and there is no reason to believe that Trump recognizes any limits.
We have a president who believes he is a stable genius who is perfect in every way. He will never back down no matter how much collateral damage he causes. Donald Trump poses a far more serious threat to the United States than all of the terrorists and adversary nations that wish us ill.