Donald J. Trump brazenly declared his passion to be our nation’s first dictator. Yet, the press, government officials, and the intellectual elite didn’t take him seriously. Everyone chattered about adults in the room, guardrails, and stupidity while being blind, deaf, and impotent to block Trump’s true intent.
Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis has four stars and claimed to be the adult in the room while he was Secretary of Defense. Gen. John Kelly also had four stars and bragged about guardrails while he served as Chief of Staff. Gen. H. R. McMasters had three stars and was the National Security Adviser. How could this constellation of 11 stars fail to recognize and neutralize an enemy in their midst?
Instead, they naively thought the problem was Trump’s knowledge gap and attention span. They took him into the Tank at the Pentagon to tutor him. It blew up on them, and Cadet Bone Spurs called them “a bunch of dopes and babies.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson infamously retorted that Trump is a “fucking moron.”
One of the people in the room asked “why doesn’t he [V.P. Michael Pence] stop him?” Indeed.
A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonning is a brilliantly and masterfully written, edited, and researched chronicle of all the people who could and should have stopped Trump. But, none of them did.
John Brennan (CIA) and James Clapper (National Intelligence) of the Obama administration rang a warning bell that Trump might be compromised by the Russians. Sally Yates got fired for raising the alarm about Gen. Michael Flynn.
It all started on July 27, 2016 when Trump boldly said “Russia if you are listening. . .” They were. They worked the graveyard shift that night to launch their infamous hack. Was it also the start of Nazi Germany 2.0? Trump told his advisers that he admires the “deep and commanding” sound of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s (Turkey) voice:
It’s un-fucking-believable. . .When he’s on that speakerphone, it is like you’re hearing Hitler at a Nuremberg rally. . .powerful and chilling. You feel like you’re maybe hearing Satan talking.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, told Congress who he is: a racist, con man, and cheat. Mr. Cohen is currently doing hard time for crimes Trump ordered him to commit. Trump is Individual #1 in Mr. Cohen’s conspiracy indictment. He’d be in the cell next to Mr. Cohen but for his current address at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, DC.
But, it isn’t likely that Trump will see the inside of prison. He’s packed the federal courts including the Supreme Court with judges who share his vision of “unfettered” Article 2 executive power. “Unfettered” is GOP code for dictatorship.
One-by-one Trump eliminated everybody who tried to stop him. The FBI’s James Comey got fired for refusing to halt the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He was replaced by Andrew McCabe who launched the Mueller investigation. He was fired two days before he would have qualified for his pension. Ouch! Attorney General Jeff Sessions lost his head shortly after the 2018 election.
Mattis, Kelly, Tillerson, McMaster, and other Trump resisters dropped like dominoes. Trump replaced them with people who shared his Article 2 point of view like Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Nazi Germany 2.0.
Barr put the damper on Robert S. Mueller and misrepresented the Mueller Report to the public:
The only fair solution, Mueller’s team wrote, was to document the evidence in a report that could be shared with the Justice Department [for prosecution after Trump left office] and ultimately Congress [for impeachment].
. . .[Annie] Donaldson’s notes. . .were the closest thing the Trump White House had to the Nixon tapes.
Sadly, Mueller lacked the backbone to stand up to Barr or to clearly articulate to Congress what his team discovered. Frank Figliuzzi is an MSNBC pundit and former colleague of Mueller at the FBI. He opined:
His silence, his telling people to just read the report, has allowed a guy like Trump and a disappointing guy like Barr to come in, and Barr knows Mueller and he knows that Mueller won’t fight back. [The special counsel] ended up getting played. . .he was suckered. . .he lost the fight.
[Trump] appears to be daring the rest of
the political system to stop him. . .
The law has no force without people
who are willing to enforce it.
– William A. Galston, The Washington Post
A Very Stable Genius captured what happened next brilliantly:
Trump declared himself the victor. . .Never mind that the Russians actually did subvert America’s democracy by interfering in the 2016 election.
Trump conned his cult at a rally in a Nazi Germany 2.0 moment:
[Mueller] went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I’ve ever known or worked with, but they are really going after you. They tried to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election, probably in the history of our country. And they wanted to deny you the future that you demanded and the future that America deserves.
Trump knew nobody was going to stop him. The day after Mueller’s testimony, he placed the infamous call to Ukraine to demand a bribe. While it set off alarm bells and culminated in his impeachment, it hasn’t stopped him:
He had concluded he was above the law. . .He had grown so confident of his own power, and cocksure that Republicans in Congress would never dare break with him, that he thought he could do almost anything.
The result was a historic test for America’s institutions and the very durability of democracy. . .
The question was who might enforce the Constitution.
Indeed. Nazi Germany 2.0?