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Lindsey Graham: Trump Runs The Federal Gov As An Extension Of The Apprentice, And That’s OK

Since taking office, Donald Trump has displayed one of the most alarming and dangerous behaviors: His belief that the U.S. government should be run more or less the same way as the Trump Organization.

Yes. Trump has used his office to enrich himself, talked about “my generals,” and fired officials who failed to affirm personal loyalty to him at the expense of their official roles in office. Whatever superficial aspects of “normalizing” his performance John Kelly may have undertaken, Trump has not ceased to abuse his power this way.

He continues to personally interview candidates for U.S. Attorney positions. This is not illegal. But it also veers far from a tradition in which such posts were held by people operating independently from the administration.

The president could nominate them, and would obviously scrutinize their biography. But a personal interview plays a different function. It’s clearly designed to identify not only whether a candidate is qualified in the abstract, but how that person feels about Trump in particular.

Trump has been treating traditionally independent figures this way from the outset. He courted, and then fired, Preet Bharara —the New York Southern District U.S. Attorney whose investigations have peeved, among others, the Russian government— and then James Comey. The revelation of Comey’s meetings with Trump clearly shows that the president’s main interest was to satisfy his belief that Comey would give him personal loyalty.

Trump considers it especially important to deny that Russian involvement played any role in his victory, which is why he lies about the subject so frequently. It is also no doubt the reason why he instructed Pompeo to lie on his behalf.

In a recent interview, CIA Director Mike Pompeo asserted, “The intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.” That is unambiguously false and the agency quickly released a statement to distance itself from Pompeo’s remarks, noting a December report by the CIA and the National Security Agency that stated, “Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Trump win the presidency.”

Pompeo conjuring up an imaginary conclusion by U.S. intelligence to protect Trump is not a normal act for a CIA official. In fact, several officials have expressed concern about Director Mike Pompeo’s close ties to President Donald Trump, telling The Washington Post that they are worried Pompeo could try to shield Trump from the Russia investigation.

But Republicans are perfectly ok with the president’s abhorrent behavior. “He’s the president of the United States who picks these people, so he’s going to get blamed (by Democrats) no matter what he does. So I think it’s a good thing that he’s willing to interview these people,” Senator Orrin Hatch told CNN. “It’s kind of an extension of The Apprentice, I guess,” added a chipper Senator Lindsey Graham.

Republicans may be ok with letting Trump run the government Trump as an extension of a reality TV show. But The Apprentice depicted Trump as the all-knowing and all-powerful head of an organization designed to serve his own needs, not the needs of the American people.

Maybe all Republicans should be voted out of Congress in the next election cycle. That’s the only way to stop Trump.

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