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Wed Nov 27, 2019, 02:05 PM

Dahlia Lithwick: Trump wants to be president forever and is bending the law to his will [View all]


It is a Thanksgiving tradition to spend time thinking about what one is thankful for, a healthy practice that reminds us to see the world in a positive light. Gratitude is good for us, and we should not take it for granted. This year, though, I feel compelled to spend at least a bit of time focusing not only on what I am thankful for, but on what I am freaking out about. And the thing that concerns me greatly these days is simple: The president seems to have no intention of leaving office, and we seem to have no meaningful plan to address that.

It’s not just that this president benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election (and in fact solicited it publicly, recall “Russia, if you’re listening”). It’s not just that he denies—in the face of the incontrovertible conclusions of his own intelligence agencies and the Senate Intelligence Committee—that Russia played any part in his 2016 electoral victory. It’s that he still believes a demonstrable fraud about illegal voting, and Ukrainian election interference, and deep state plots to oust him, and has demanded his Cabinet officers repeat it. Moreover, he has demanded that his attorney general investigate it. His insistence that everyone around him participate in his version of reality allows him to repeat the material falsehood that he won by a landslide in 2016, and that there will be more attempts to suppress his victory in 2020.
. . . .

There’s more. Donald Trump does not necessarily intend to leave office even if he loses the 2020 presidential election. He jokes about it constantly. He never agreed that he would concede if he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016, remember. His claims about election and voter fraud are not just ego food about his popular vote numbers in 2016, but also setup for 2020. The anonymous author of a new Trump book says as much. It’s taken a long time to even consider this possibility openly. And just as we soothed ourselves that the military would be the keystone to his removal if it came right down to that, the president has redefined the U.S. military as an appendage of his own desires. At his Florida rally on Tuesday night, Trump dismissed any resistance to his actions in pardoning service members accused of war crimes as emanating from “the deep state.” He reportedly wants these new military heroes he is elevating to join him on the campaign trail. And just as he has falsely dismissed honorable career professionals in the foreign service as “deep staters” and “Never Trumpers,” he will now refuse to hear from anyone in the military who argues for internal honor codes and discipline as the same.

Don McGahn thinks someone else is responsible for taking care of all this, as, evidently, does John Bolton. Robert Mueller made the same mistake in the spring, when he decided it was Congress’ responsibility to act on what he had found. And so, to be frank, did most of the impeachment witnesses, many of whom only came forward to corroborate the whistleblower’s anonymous report, and some of whom only came forward pursuant to a subpoena. Everyone seems to assume vast quantities of courage in other people that they cannot seem to find in themselves. Yet somehow, our greatest worry in the coming days will be how to remain civil with one another over a large bird and its cute little cranberry accessories. The president believes that he is above the law and has foreclosed any attempt to prove otherwise. The president seems unable to conceive of himself losing an election. The president is counting on all of us to merely hope that something somewhere gets done about all this stuff at some point, but to never actually do anything ourselves beyond passing the stuffing around. This year, what I am most thankful for is the people who are trying to do that something themselves.

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Reply Dahlia Lithwick: Trump wants to be president forever and is bending the law to his will [View all]
MBS Nov 2019 OP
Fiendish Thingy Nov 2019 #1
atreides1 Nov 2019 #3
Fiendish Thingy Nov 2019 #4
FiveGoodMen Nov 2019 #5
fleur-de-lisa Nov 2019 #2
sandensea Nov 2019 #6
MBS Nov 2019 #7
sandensea Nov 2019 #8
MBS Nov 2019 #9
sandensea Nov 2019 #10
Kid Berwyn Dec 2019 #11