Trump’s removal of James Comey was a blatantly transparent attempt to protect himself from Comey’s active investigation of his team’s ties to Russia and is thus tyrannical in nature. This is a moment of truth for America, the first tipping point of Trump’s young presidency, and it we fail to respond well to this challenge to our very system of governance from our chief executive, the rocks under our feet on this political slippery slope may start to give way to a dangerous fall.
Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse May 10, 2017
AMMAN — In banana republics, in increasingly-dictatorish dictatorships like Egypt, when someone challenges the Dear Leader, they are removed from power. When the dictator feels far more powerful, like Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, that person may be executed with an anti-aircraft gun.
If liberals smug in their “accomplishments” in their marches (I’ve lost track of how many disparate marches there are) think they and the nation are winning against Trump now, it’s time for them to wake the *&^% up, put aside their “boutique issues,” and unite behind the Democratic Party (for all its imperfections), which is the only entity in the here and now able to stand up to Trump besides the bureaucracy within the government (a government that is clearly intent on and is in the process of carrying out a purge of that bureaucracy), before we succumb to what I label democratic fascism.
Liberals and America are not winning. Every temporary win is at the mercy of the presidents’ whims; the Muslim ban? Trump will have plenty of time to appoint new judges to do his bidding and an unusually high number of them. Flynn out? Trump is already souring on McMaster, his replacement, one of the few “adults in the room” in the “axis of adults” that non-Trump supporters desperately try to tell themselves and the public will moderate/are moderating the “madness of King Donald” (and remember, as quickly as Trump “moderated” on any particular issue, he can just as quickly un-moderate). Senate Republicans have zero women working on health reform after the House’s passage of Trump/Ryancare. What does the women’s march mean when women’s health services are gutted, when judges are appointed that will take away women’s access and ability to decide on how to handle their own pregnancies? And Trump and the unhinged überpartisan Republicans will now be able to appoint an FBI director (Giuliani? Christie?) who will, in effect, bury the FBI’s investigation into ties between Trump and Russia and the 2016 election.
To quote Gen. Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA chief, “I’m trying to avoid the conclusion that we’ve become Nicaragua;” to quote Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s all-star legal analyst, “this is not normal;” and to quote Bill Maher, to those of you who though Hillary Clinton was merely the lesser of two evils, “go &^%$ yourselves,” because we now have the worst threat to our system of government, to the survival of our republic as a republic, since the days of Nixon, mainly because you couldn’t bring yourselves to support a candidate who was easily closer to your politics and beliefs and instead saw that a serial-lying narcissistic monster of a man-child was installed in the White House after only winning 46.1% of the vote in what was a de-facto two person race, since far too many of you threw your votes away on non-Clinton non-Trump votes.
In fact, the only times anything like this Comey firing has happened with a president was during Nixon’s presidency, during the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon fired the special prosecutor—Archibald Cox—investigating the Watergate scandal, and arguably when Andrew Jackson—Trump’s apparent historical idol—ignored the Supreme Court when it came to removing Native American tribes from America’s Southeast. In Nixon’s time, significant numbers of Republicans put country over party and helped to lead the fight against Nixon’s abuse of both office and power.
Does ANYONE not drinking GOP Kool-Aid think that today’s farcical Republicans will do the same? Whether the “Benghazi” (really Clinton e-mail) “investigation” (really witch hunt) or the recent Russia hearings where the vast majority of Republicans focused on leaks and unmasking, it’s clear that, no, Republicans in Congress will not put country over party, even when it comes to vital issues of national security. Even as I write this, I am seeing Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defend Trump’s firing of Comey using hackneyed partisan talking points that ignore the current context. I fully expect Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to do the same thing, and I expect the same as well from the vast majority of Congressional Republicans or at least expect their reactions to be far from condemnation, and so far, this has clearly been the case.
If you read Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s letter about Comey’s firing, you’d think that Trump fired Comey because of his unfair treatment of Hillary Clinton during the e-mail/server investigation, treatment of which I wrote about repeatedly before the election and which, all things being equal, seems to have cost her the election (not that other factors did not also play into the loss). So, yes, objectively, Comey should have been fired, but fired by Obama long ago, and yet, this would have looked so unseemly for Obama, Clinton, and the Democrats, and been such political suicide for Obama, that that was never really an option. Long after these events in question, Trump apparently expects us to believe that those reasons related to the handling of the e-mail/server investigation are why he fired Comey.
Nothing could be more absurd or further from the truth.
There are three real reasons for why Trump fired Comey: Russia, Russia, and Russia (and a fourth: Trump feeling he could not control Comey). And Trump made it clear that the investigation of both Trump’s ties to Russia and Russian election interference (cyberwar!)was at the center of his concerns when he mentioned that investigation in his own letter firing Comey.
It is fitting that Trump included what is virtually certainly a lie—that Comey thrice told Trump that Trump was not under investigation—in his own letter; still, I don’t believe nearly enough people are paying close attention; rather, I believe this is how democracy dies. So soon after Star Wars day, Trump is showing his authoritarian Emperor Palpatine colors faster than some would have anticipated.
Oh, and all this is the same day (just hours after!) that federal grand jury subpoenas went out in relation to the Russia investigation, just days after Comey had requested more resources to conduct his Russia investigation, just one day after Sally Yates’s testimony in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee had made it clear she was fired just days after she had warned the White House about Gen. Flynn being compromised by Russia, and with Attorney General Jeff Sessions—who had pledged to recuse himself from all Russia/election 2016-related matters because of his own misconduct—acting to help remove Comey, who had been leading the Russia investigation, despite Sessions’ vow of recusal.
This is where we are now, and this is the first truly tipping-point moment in Trump’s presidency: many years from now, historians will look at this moment and look at how the people and their elected political leaders reacted, in particular the leaders of the Republican Party now (especially in the Senate) and the American people when they get to weigh in during the 2018 midterms. If we don’t handle this appropriately, this moment will likely be seen as a moment when the system failed and a lurch toward tyranny happened; even if that lurch doesn’t put us firmly in the realm of tyranny and authoritarianism, it will be a tall task to lurch back in the right direction and it will put us ever closer to even more dangerous tyrannies that may yet be self-inflicted upon our body politic.
The ancient Roman Republic lasted far longer than America’s republic has thus far lasted; looking at its example of the erosion of democratic (small “d”) republican (small “r”) institutions and their eventual collapse, once centuries-long precedents were broken, the ensuing consequences proved fatal for a system that had been stable for longer than America has existed as a nation; this should all give us pause as we wait and see if, or to what degree, the United States has descended/will descend to the level of a banana republic under President Trump, his Administration, and with the help of his supporters, enablers and voters.
© 2017 Brian E. Frydenborg all rights reserved, no republication without permission, attributed quotations welcome
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