Trump Just Moved The U.S. Closer To An Authoritarian Crisis
As Americans are distracted by the GOP’s endless voting procedures to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act, the United States is being pushed to the brink of an authoritarian crisis.
In the last few days, the Trump administration has signaled that the fraudulent president is considering firing special prosecutor Robert Mueller and even pardon himself. Sadly, Republicans won’t do a thing about it—and our democracy will be changed forever.
There were many reasons to be alarmed by the transcript of President Donald Trump’s Wednesday interview with The New York Times, but if you drew back the lenses of time and context far enough, it foretold a deeper crisis than the text suggested—one that may be unfolding already.
But the scope of that crisis got much clearer after the Washington Post reported that Trump is discussing the possibility of pardoning himself, his family, and his closest aides to short-circuit the sprawling investigation of his campaign’s complicity in Russia’s subversion of the 2016 election.
According to the report, Trump’s team is also digging up dirt on the special counsel investigators in an attempt to discredit them.
Also on Wednesday, trump descended into a deranged Twitter rant, threatening Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) over her votes to reject the GOP healthcare plan to replace Obamacare, sending a clear message that Congress should bow down to him or else.
In light of this stunning news, it’s worth returning to the Times interview. Trump’s juiciest comments pertained to his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whom he resents for recusing from that investigation. But these grievances were already known, as was the fact that Trump has considered terminating Robert Mueller, the man leading the inquiry. What made the Times interview explosive was Trump’s suggestion that he would fire Mueller for delving too deeply into his finances.
SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia—is that a red line?
HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes.
What lit the fuse was the bombshell report, first from the Times and then from Bloomberg, that Mueller is indeed investigating Trump’s business entanglements.
Apart from the question of whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian intelligence to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it is widely suspected that a peek under the hood of the Trump organization will reveal serious financial crimes. Assuming that informed speculation is correct, and assuming our system of checks hasn’t broken down, Mueller would uncover the wrongdoing and bring down a president, or Trump would fire Mueller and Congress would step in to edge Trump out.
As reported by Bloomberg reported, “FBI investigators and other law enforcement officials are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.”
These extraordinary developments have left Trump with two options: Backing down from his threat, or making good on it while issuing pardons promiscuously and to catastrophic effect.
The loud hum of chaos and spectacle engulfing the Trump administration is drowning out a creeping reality: We are on the brink of an authoritarian crisis that will make the firing of FBI Director James Comey seem quaint in hindsight.
And, at the moment, the U.S. government has no reliable sources of accountability. None. In fact, over the course of the past several months, Republicans have given every indication that no malfeasance, no matter how grave and severe, will impel them to rein in Trump or impeach him.
If this crisis unfolds as we all fear, the country’s final hope for avoiding a terminal slide into authoritarianism would be the midterm election, contesting control of a historically gerrymandered House of Representatives.
In a shameless effort to solidify his power under a perpetual Republican-controlled- Congress, Trump created a sham election-integrity commission aimed to disenfranchise as many Democratic voters as possible. Absent the necessary sweep, everything Trump will have done to degrade our system for his own enrichment and protection will have been ratified, and a point of no return will have been crossed.
The midterm election is only 16 months away. Get ready to vote.