Trump and the Death of the Republic
“Will no one Rid me of this meddlesome priest”
- Henry the second asking for the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury
In the past few weeks the eyes of Americans have been fixed on observing the ongoing Russia investigation, which as of yet seems to restlessly expand in its scope. The scandal which has so crippled the Trump administration has been the object of much political grandstanding especially among Democrats with many calling for Trumps impeachment as claims of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign seem to infinitely increase in likelihood as the investigation continues. The actions of the Trump campaign in response to this scandal however are in my mind at least, far more concerning than the idea that Russia ( a nation far less powerful than the United States by close to every measure) would be able to retain any significant influence on US government policy. Rather the patronage that Trump seems to will upon the federal government is both concerning in its own right but also sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations.
As a response to the investigation concerning the Trump campaign the administration decided not to face the investigation with honor and maintain their integrity but rather to engage in political machinations in order to prevent the investigation from moving forward. Trump did so, according to Comey's testimony by meeting with Comey and trying to establish a patronage relationship by which Comey would be wholly beholden to Trump in order to retain his job. This included “lifting the cloud” that was the Russia scandal by allowing for Michael Flynn to go without consequences despite this taking of what amounted to bribes both from Turkey as well as from the Russian government's. When comey took no action to this effect he was promptly fired, an action which Trump directly said was the result of the Russian investigation. This attempt to end the political neutrality of the justice department ( if only in part) is concerning in its own right, but the ability of Trump himself to brazenly admit to interfering in the independence of the justice department for his own gain is also problematic. This action could potentially represent an obstruction of justice but his response to the new allegations of obstruction of justice were equally concerning.
Shortly following this expansion of the scandal in what could constitute yet another breach of protocol Trump put out a rumour that he was dissatisfied with the action of special prosecutor Mueller and that as a result of his apparent inability to comply with Trumps demands he could potentially have him fired.
These action on their own are dangerous and could result in the short term obstruction of justice but far more concerning, and in fact dangerous not just to short term political ends but in fact to the sanctity of American democracy is the idea that this one step towards patronage taken by Trump could set a precedent for the rest of this administration by which the power of democratic institutions could increasingly be consolidated under the executive branch, in particular on the president. Giving so much power to one person is fundamentally dangerous. This could potentially allow for the president to behave above the law and not only personally commit crimes but defend various cronies who themselves commit crime. Frighteningly such developments could already be taking place as new positions are being filled by people nominated by the president for reasons unknown. The prospect that the motivation behind appointing people such as the new FBI head, Christopher Wray, was that they pledged loyalty to Trump is not inconceivable. In fact considering the presidents past actions it is highly likely.