With the mad king and his court, the worst is yet to come

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - OPINION - By Eugene Robin­son them,

The Court of Mad King Don­ald is not a pres­i­dency. It is an af­flic­tion, one that saps the life out of our demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, and it must be fiercely re­sisted if the na­tion as we know it is to sur­vive.

I wish that were hy­per­bole. The prob­lem is not just that Pres­i­dent Trump is self­ish, in­se­cure, ego­tis­ti­cal, ig­no­rant and un­se­ri­ous. It is that he nei­ther fully grasps nor min­i­mally re­spects the con­cept of honor, with­out which our gov­ern­ing sys­tem falls apart. He be­lieves “hon­or­able” means “ob­se­quious in the ser­vice of Trump.” He be­lieves ev­ery­one else’s mo­tives are as base as his.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is, in­deed, like the court of some ac­ci­den­tal monarch who is trag­i­cally un­suited for the du­ties of his throne. How­ever long it per­sists, we must never al­low our­selves to think of the Trump White House as any­thing but aber­rant. We must fight for the norms of Amer­i­can gov­er­nance lest we for­get them in their ab­sence.

It gets worse and worse. The past week has marked a suc­ces­sion of new lows.

On Satur­day, Trump be­gan what has been a sus­tained cam­paign to goad or hu­mil­i­ate At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions into re­sign­ing. Trump has blasted Ses­sions on Twit­ter, at a news con­fer­ence, in a news­pa­per in­ter­view and at a cam­paign-style rally. He has called Ses­sions “be­lea­guered” and said re­peat­edly how “dis­ap­pointed” he is in the at­tor­ney gen­eral.

For­get, for the mo­ment, that Ses­sions was the first sit­ting U.S. se­na­tor to sup­port Trump’s cam­paign, giv­ing him new cred­i­bil­ity among con­ser­va­tives. For­get also that Ses­sions is ar­guably hav­ing more suc­cess than any other Cab­i­net mem­ber in get­ting Trump’s agenda im­ple­mented. Those things aside, what kind of leader treats a lieu­tenant with such pas­sive-ag­gres­sive ob­nox­ious­ness? Trump is too nam­by­pamby to look Ses­sions in the eye and say, “You’re fired.”

That’s what the pres­i­dent clearly is try­ing to sum­mon the courage to do, how­ever. The Washington Post re­ported that Trump has been “mus­ing” with his courtiers about the pos­si­bil­ity of fir­ing Ses­sions and nam­ing a re­place­ment dur­ing the Au­gust con­gres­sional re­cess.

Trump has no re­spect for the rule of law. He is en­raged that Ses­sions re­cused him­self from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sia’s med­dling in the elec­tion, and thus is not in a po­si­tion to pro­tect the House of Trump from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller. Ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, “Shar­ing the pres­i­dent’s frus­tra­tion have been peo­ple in his fam­ily, some of whom have come un­der scru­tiny in the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” I’m guess­ing that means the pres­i­dent’s el­dest son, Don­ald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner. Who elected by the way?

Trump seeks to gov­ern by whim and fiat. On Wed­nes­day morn­ing, he used Twit­ter to an­nounce a ban on trans­gen­der peo­ple serv­ing in the mil­i­tary, sur­pris­ing his own top mil­i­tary lead­ers. Pen­tagon spokes­men told re­porters to ask the White House for de­tails; White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders told re­porters to ask the Pen­tagon. Was Trump try­ing to reignite the cul­ture wars? Would the thou­sands of trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als now serv­ing in the mil­i­tary be purged? Was this ac­tual pol­icy or just a fit of in­di­ges­tion?

In­side the mad king’s court, the in­ternecine bat­tles are be­com­ing ever more bru­tal. Mem­bers of Trump’s in­ner cir­cle seek his fa­vor by leak­ing neg­a­tive in­for­ma­tion about their ri­vals. This ad­min­is­tra­tion is more hos­tile to the me­dia than any in re­cent mem­ory, but also more ea­ger to whis­per juicy dirt about the am­bi­tious courtier down the hall.

Trump’s new fa­vorite, An­thony Scara­mucci, struts around more like a chief of staff than a com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, which is his nom­i­nal role. Late Wed­nes­day night -- af­ter din­ing with Trump and his head cheer­leader, Sean Han­nity -- Scara­mucci took a metaphor­i­cal rapier to the ac­tual chief of staff, Reince Priebus, by strongly hint­ing on Twit­ter that Priebus leaks to re­porters. The next morn­ing, Scara­mucci told CNN that “if Reince wants to ex­plain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”

Why bring in Scara­mucci? Be­cause, I fear, the mad king is gird­ing for war. Trump is reck­less enough to fire Mueller if he digs too deeply into the busi­ness deal­ings of the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the Kush­ner Com­pa­nies.

What then? Will Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell draft and push through a new spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor statute so that Mueller can quickly be reap­pointed? Will House Speaker Paul Ryan im­me­di­ately open de­bate on ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment? Will we, the peo­ple, de­fend our democ­racy?

Do not be­come numb to the mad king’s out­rages. The worst is yet to come. Eugene Robin­son’s email ad­dress is eu­gen­er­obin­son@ wash­post.com.

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