Trump Crosses Another Rubicon

President Trump broke new ground yesterday in his increasingly desperate attempt to subvert the Justice Department in the service of one-man, one-party rule with perhaps his most dangerous tweet yet:

President Trump attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department on Monday in connection with the indictments of two GOP congressmen on corruption charges, saying they could hurt the Republican Party in the midterm elections.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” he said on Twitter. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time.”

“Good job Jeff……” he added, in a sarcastic comment. Calling the agency the “Jeff Sessions Justice Department” is the president’s ultimate insult, Trump advisers say.

This is the president of the United States unequivocally stating that the Justice Department should behave as a partisan cudgel to protect members of the president’s party and prosecute his opponents. The result of such a system, of course, would be an authoritarian one-party police state.

Even Fox News’ Brit Hume found it necessary to state in exasperation that it’s not the job of the Attorney General to play goalie for the president or his party.

That Trump is so brazen in his outlawry and so ignorant of basic jurisprudence as to take this stance should not surprise us. We should note this latest, most extreme transgression with appropriate alarm but we can no longer claim to be shocked by it. The president can feel the walls of the investigation and the pressure of potentially losing the House closing in on him, and he is reacting just as terrified narcissists with more power than morals typically do.

But what should stun us is the complicity and cowardice of Republicans in Congress who apparently know no limits or lines that they will protect should Trump attempt to cross them. Republicans have already signaled that they will not stop Trump from firing Sessions after the midterms. They have shown themselves equal obstructionists with Trump in attempting to derail and discredit the Mueller probe. Occasionally one of the more supposedly anti-Trump Republican senators will step up with a rhetorical shot as Senator Ben Sasse did yesterday, but they don’t actually do anything to stop him.

Does anyone at this point still believe that Republicans would react in a meaningful way if Trump were to fire Rosenstein and initiate a Saturday Night Massacre against Mueller? Does anyone believe that Republicans in the Senate would convict Trump even if Mueller proved conspiracy, collusion, and obstruction in no uncertain terms?

Trump has crossed so many Rubicons by now that his armies are nearing close to metaphorical Rome, even as Republicans not only refuse to stop him but actively aid and abet him.

Which means that it will only get worse from here until a new Congress comes into office that will hold him to account.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.