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It Ain’t Just Mueller Who Could Take Trump Down

December 28, 2017 in Blogs

By Walter Shapiro, Brennan Center for Justice

With his approval ratings at record lows, Trump may face a greater threat from the voters than from law enforcement.

As we stumble to the end of the chaotic first calendar year of the Trump administration, the president's critics have fallen into the habit of constantly monitoring American democracy’s vital signs. It's almost as if the nation's political institutions are hospitalized, with nurses bursting in at all hours to announce, “Just checking.”

By many reckonings, this has been a bad few weeks for the venerable patient, born 228 years ago in Philadelphia.

The Republican Senate, skipping all committee hearings, rushed through a tax-break bill filled with hand-written corrections without allowing Democrats time to read it. Michael Flynn — the president's first national security adviser who led chants of “Lock her up” at the Republican National Convention about Hillary Clinton — pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Trump himself retweeted three vicious anti-Muslim videos that originated with a British ultra-nationalist group.

Wait, there's more.

There was, of course, the mysterious Tweet written by Trump or his lawyer John Dowd or a squirrel on the White House lawn implying that the president had known that Flynn had lied to the FBI before Trump pressured former FBI Director James Comey to go easy on him. The resulting dustup prompted Dowd to insist with heavy-handed echoes of Watergate that a “president cannot obstruct justice.” Along the way, like a comedian searching for someone he hadn't offended yet, Trump declared war on the FBI claiming in a Tweet that “its reputation is in Tatters.”

Not surprisingly, the tromp, tromp, tromp of Trump's nonstop affronts to political decency have taken a toll on even moderate commentators. 

In the New York Times, political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein write, “The failure of Republican members of Congress to resist the anti-democratic behavior of President Trump — including holding not a single hearing on his and his team’s kleptocracy — is cringe-worthy.”

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's Supreme Court columnist, offered this bleak assessment: “It’s become clear that absolutely nothing will persuade Trump supporters …read more


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