On Friday, Donald Trump decided it was a good idea to suggest repeatedly that the Justice Department and the FBI investigate his political opponents.
To be sure, this isn’t surprising. Trump has done this before and this time around, he’s being encouraged not just by the usual suspects at Fox News and Breitbart, but by the likes of previously reputable outlets like the Wall Street Journal, where the editorial page has published a series of increasingly outrageous posts about Robert Mueller, sparking what Vanity Fair is characterizing as a “civil war” between the powers that be at the paper and reporters who are worried that the outlet is losing its credibility.
Meanwhile, Trump is clearly becoming concerned about the special counsel probe. For months, legal experts as well as current and former members of the intelligence community warned that “Bobby Three Sticks” is not a man with whom you want to fuck. And yet month after month, both the administration and its surrogates pretended as though nothing would come of Mueller’s investigation.
Well on Monday, Mueller served notice (figuratively and literally in this case) that the only ones joking around here are Trump and the Right Wing media. Amusingly, it seems like the only person in the Right Wing propaganda echo chamber that understands the gravity of what’s unfolding is Steve Bannon who, according to one aide, thinks Trump needs to “stop tweeting” and “take this seriously.”
On Friday we learned that Trump is taking part of that advice but not the other part. He’s “taking it seriously” but not only is not going to “stop tweeting,” he’s going to quite literally attempt to tweet-bully the Justice Department and the FBI into embarking on wild goose chases involving uranium, e-mails which have already been investigated, a conspiracy against “Crazy Bernie”, and of course, that scandal no one can forget called “plus, plus.” To wit:
On one hand, this is obviously hilarious. He’s losing his fucking mind and we’re getting to watch it unfold in real-time.
Additionally, note how he starts out by saying that “everybody is asking” only to later say that the stories “everybody is asking” about are getting “ZERO” coverage. Both of those things cannot be true. Either “everybody” is talking about it or “ZERO” people are talking about it, but it can’t be both. Also, he’s having trouble with the Sanders story because on one hand, it confirms his deep-seated suspicion of Hillary Clinton, but in order to avoid giving anyone the impression that he’s a fan of Sanders, he calls him “crazy” and then calls Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” (again) even though in this case, she’s saying the same thing Trump is saying.
But beyond that, this is another one of those times when we need to guard against our natural inclination to dismiss Trump’s absurd rants as nothing more than morning comedy hour or worse, as something we’re all just going to have to get used to. Just to be clear: there is no sense in which it is appropriate for the President of the United States to be effectively instructing the Justice Department and the FBI to go after his political opponents. That’s what goes on in Third World dictatorships. It’s so characteristic of regimes like Erdogan’s in Turkey that it’s a stereotype.
Irrespective of what you think of Robert Mueller and Hillary Clinton, those tweets are wildly inappropriate and speak volumes about the extent to which Trump simply does not understand how America’s democracy works. He cannot be allowed to say things like that to 41 million people on Twitter – it’s an aberration – an outright affront to everything his office stands for.
But don’t take my word for it, let Bob Corker tell you how beyond the pale this is.
“Like me, most Americans hope that our justice system is independent and free of political interference,” Corker said in a statement Friday afternoon. “President Trump’s pressuring of the Justice Department and FBI to pursue cases against his adversaries and calling for punishment before trials take place are totally inappropriate and not only undermine our justice system but erode the American people’s confidence in our institutions.” Here’s the full statement:
“We can’t allow ourselves to become numb to the president of the United States calling on independent law enforcement organizations to investigate his political opponents,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement of her own, adding that “that’s characteristic of authoritarian regimes, not democracies, and it needs to stop.”
And then this:
The state of the American Presidency defined. A racial slur and a threat to jail a political opponent all in 140 characters. https://t.co/LyiM7RWVXF
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 3, 2017
Of course Trump and his cheerleaders in the media and in the still-thriving alt-Right blogosphere will somehow manage to wriggle out of calling this what it is by waving still more conspiracy theories in front of you and by making childish claims about the character of Trump’s critics (oblivious to the inherent irony in defending a man with no class whatsoever by impugning the judgement of people who have at least some claim on credibility).
But at the end of the day it won’t matter, because as “Pocahontas” will be happy to tell you, Donald Trump, members of his family, and a number of his associates are going to prison. End of story.