Trump has sparked the biggest political crisis since Watergate

Jonathan Chait writes: Trump gives every indication that he literally does not understand the concepts of popular sovereignty and rule of law. He has treated the presidency as a continuation of his business career, and the election as the sanctification of it, the final proof of his triumph over his critics. When asked about his conduct, he returns obsessively to the glories of Election Night. Trump grew especially furious at Comey’s confession of being “mildly nauseous” at the thought he might have swayed the election, “which Mr. Trump took to demean his own role in history,” the Times reported.

He continues to surround himself with family and personal loyalists, and judges his and his employees’ performance by the quality and (especially) quantity of free media they generate. That he is leveraging the office to enrich himself and his family strikes him as a perfectly obvious course of action. He casually refers to “my generals” and “my military.” He sent his longtime personal bodyguard to fire Comey. To Trump, the notion that his FBI director would investigate him and his associates is as outrageous as having a doorman at Mar-a-Lago greet him with insults.

What has enabled Trump to persist in this belief is a government controlled by a party willing to accommodate his vision. [Continue reading…]

James Fallows writes: On the merits, this era’s Republican president has done far more to justify investigation than Richard Nixon did. Yet this era’s Republican senators and members of congress have, cravenly, done far less. A few have grumbled about “concerns” and so on, but they have stuck with Trump where it counts, in votes, and since Comey’s firing they have been stunning in their silence.

Today’s party lineup in the Senate is of course 52–48, in favor of the Republicans. Thus a total of three Republican senators have it within their power to change history, by insisting on an honest, independent investigation of what the Russians have been up do and how the mechanics of American democracy can best defend themselves. (To spell it out, three Republicans could join the 48 Democrats and Independents already calling for investigations, and constitute a Senate majority to empower a genuinely independent inquiry.) So far they have fallen in line with their party’s leader, Mitch McConnell, who will be known in history for favoring party above all else. [Continue reading…]

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