President Donald Trump has jumped off the rails in the past couple of weeks -- and he's crossing some bright red lines.
The president and his administration have signaled in recent days that Trump will carry out a threatened assault on the rule of law that has always been embedded in his presidency, according to foreign policy expert David Rothkopf writing for The Daily Beast.
"Something broke in America in the past week or two," argued Rothkopf, a professor of international relations, political scientist and journalist. "We have been spiraling downward since Trump’s election, but in these early days of spring 2019, we have crossed a line. The president and his men began asserting that they were above the law — and effectively no one in our system did anything to stop them."
Attorney General William Barr placed himself above congressional oversight and seems intent to shield special counsel Robert Mueller's findings from full public view, and then accused U.S. law enforcement of "spying" on the Trump campaign, without offering any evidence, Rothkopf said.
"He disregarded the facts to serve the narrative of his boss but also, shockingly, appallingly, to discredit the work of the law enforcement professionals who undertook the investigation and who, ultimately, report to him," Rothkopf argued. "It was equally a betrayal of his oath and of his dedicated colleagues at the Department of Justice."
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig both seem determined to violate a law requiring them to furnish Trump's tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rothkopf said, and the White House has begun to purge leadership Department of Homeland Security reportedly out of frustration that officials were not willing to obey illegal orders.
Trump confirmed that he had considered naming his daughter Ivanka Trump to head the World Bank, and he granted her and husband Jared Kushner access to highly classified materials despite career professionals warning they were potential security risks.
The Senate's Republican majority have let these abuses go unchallenged, Rothkopf said, in hopes of packing the courts with right-wing partisans -- or, in the case of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, landing an aluminum mill in his home state of Kentucky after undoing sanctions against Russian magnate Oleg Deripaska.
"It is the stuff of the world's most dysfunctional tinpot dictatorships or self-dealing monarchies," Rothkopf warned. "But rather than generating a response from within our system commensurate with the threat, nothing occurred. The GOP leaders in the Senate circled ’round the president and supported his abuses."
"In so doing, they sent a message that they would never challenge him," he added, "much less convict him of the myriad crimes he has committed. The checks and balances our system was built upon are gone."