A presidency without principle

A presidency without principle

What is there left to say? Seriously. After the last few days, most of us are really at a loss. Just think about a few of the things we’ve seen this week. Pursuant to a referral made by special counsel Robert Mueller, a federal judge issued a warrant authorizing the FBI to raid the offices of Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of the president of the United States. Think about that for a second.

Of course Trump bleated about this being the end of attorney-client privilege, another lie in the service of his own interests, one that conveniently ignores the fact that one loses that privilege when one talks to a lawyer about committing a crime. That’s called the “crime-fraud exception,” and the granting of the warrant means that judge was convinced that Trump’s attorney and personal fixer probably committed a crime. Given the source of the referral, it’s unlikely Cohen was committing a crime on behalf of one of his non-presidential clients. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken White didn’t mince words, noting: “This is an extremely important development. This is Watergate-level stuff.”

This week also saw Trump, not for the first time, dangle the idea of firing Mueller—who is apparently coming close to producing a report on whether the guy in the White House obstructed justice in any of the following four instances:

His intent to fire former FBI Director James Comey; his role in the crafting of a misleading public statement on the nature of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians; Trump’s dangling of pardons before grand jury witnesses who might testify against him; and pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

More polling shows strong support for Mueller investigating Trump’s possible misdeeds on a number of fronts.

Thankfully, an overwhelming majority of the American people appear to oppose removing Mueller, if such a thing matters to the man who lost the popular vote and became president anyway. Quinnipiac found 69 percent opposed such a move, while only 13 percent supported it.

Additionally, Trump on Friday pardoned Scooter Libby—who lied to the FBI, mind you. For those not paying attention to how Donald Trump operates, issuing that pardon in this moment is a signal that anyone who stands with him and refuses to cooperate with Mueller won’t have much to worry about. It may not be obstruction of justice as a matter of law, but the intent is, without doubt, to make justice that much harder to achieve.

And I’m not even going to go into detail about some of the other things we saw, such as a cabinet secretary who has acted in a manner as corrupt, dishonest, and just plain greedy as any in recent history and who still, as of this writing, maintains the support of his president. Yes, the “can you imagine” game is infuriating, so instead of imagining the Republican response to something like this if the shoe was on the other foot, let’s instead point out that under eight years of President Barack Obama, we just didn’t have anything like this. Obama, you see, had principles. Just the kind of guy he was.

There was also Trump’s stunning policy reversal—something that’s positively wholesome by comparison to the criminal stuff—on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Opposition to the TPP was one of the core economic ideas of the Trump campaign and presidency until this past week. The man actually called it “a rape of our country.” Given his bragging about having sexually assaulted women, who knows what he meant by that?

On Syria, after the Assad regime launched a sickening chemical attack that killed dozens of his own people, Trump flailed about like a marlin on the floor of a fisherman’s rowboat. How about the CBO’s report that 80 percent of the benefits of Trump’s rich man’s tax cut would actually flow out across our borders to foreign rich men (and women)? That’s something that, under a normal president, would have been a hugely damaging story, yet it barely made a blip.

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