Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
President Donald Trump fails to accept the fact that America is a country of laws and his oath of office pledged him to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. At its heart, Trump’s comments in today’s New York Times confirm once again that he does not believe that he must comply with and obey those laws. This is precisely the way fascist leaders responded after being democratically elected. Mussolini could flaunt the Italian legal system and Hitler could impose authoritarian rule. It was elementary for Hitler to declare a national emergency, abandon the legislature, defy the courts, and assume emergency powers. In addition, Hitler’s cult of the personality, declaring himself Der Fuehrer like Mussolini’s Il Duce, only added fuel to his notion that he was the ruler. The laws and system were not important. Universal allegiance was to be pledged to the Leader.
World history is not Trump’s thing; therefore, he should avoid ever presenting an analysis of historical events even when he seeks to interpret events favorable to his apparent Russian friend. The fact remains that Trump will not recognize that he will never be able to govern the country like a New York real estate firm. For Trump, in his interview yesterday there was a total distortion of history, a bizarre affection for America’s primary global enemy, and an apparent insistence that those who work for the Presidency owe him their primary allegiance.
The slam that Trump made on Jeff Sessions was appalling. It is obvious that Trump cannot tolerate anyone who acts consistent with the law, if by doing so it may create an unfavorable condition for him. Sessions’ personal loyalty, in the President’s mind, ought to have overridden his legal obligation to recuse himself for investigating the Russia election connection. This is precisely the disregard for the law—as well as the Constitution—which is operating norm in a fascist country.
If Trump, as he implied, could opt to fire Mueller, it should be clear now that the political system cannot condone such behavior. Mueller will have all the ducks lined up before he goes public with his investigation. At that point, if necessary, his staff, presumably, will be able to proceed with any legal actions even without Mueller. It is also fascinating how once again money appears to be the Achilles heel; this time it is Trump and his family and not the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREP). Trump obviously does not want Mueller to pursue any non-Russia election related matter. If Trump and his connections to the Russians are at the bottom of all of the hoopla, all Mueller ultimately will need to do is find and follow the money.
While in 1973 it took President Nixon almost nine months after the Saturday Night Massacre before he was forced to resigned, today–even with Republican control of Congress–it might not take that long today.
The wisdom and guidance of Senator John McCain certainly will be missed on the defense budget deliberations and restarting the healthcare debate. Should his medical needs create an extended absence but permit him some participation in his congressional duties, his conscience could be a driving force to insist on legal and constitutional compliance from the White House to the laws of the land; or else….