A ‘Soft Coup’ Inside The White House Isn’t The Antidote To Trumpism

Donald Trump is a bad, inept, and potentially dangerous President. That doesn't mean that a 'soft coup' inside the White House is the answer to the problem he presents to our democratic republic.

While the nation continues to digest the groundbreaking anonymous Op-Ed published Wednesday evening by The New York Times from an anonymous source inside the Trump Administration, which mirrors many of the same things that have been alleged in previous leaks from inside the Administration, from the books by Michael Wolff and Omarosa Manigault-Newman, and from the forthcoming book by Bob Woodward which now appears to have the White House in a panic mode that is likely to continue long past Tuesday’s official release of the book itself. One of the most striking things about all three of these books, the Op-Ed, and many of the leaks that have come out over the course of the past eighteen months is the extent to which they detail efforts by those who work under Trump to either control him or prevent him from taking action they believe to be in the best interests of the nation even if it runs counter to the President’s wishes.

David Graham at The Atlantic argues that what is being described here is nothing less than an anti-democratic coup:

Say what you will about the wisdom of voters, but it is the bedrock of the nation, and Trump is the duly elected president, as Sanders says. Cabinet members are at least confirmed by the Senate, but they’re still unelected. Officials like Cohn and Porter are subject to even less scrutiny, as they are appointed directly to their posts. If protecting the rules requires tearing down the rules, what is there to be gained?

Recognizing the bind that top officials serving an unfit president could face, the nation in 1967 amended the Constitution to provide for the removal of a president who “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The Twenty-Fifth Amendment creates a lawful path for a top government official who believes the president cannot serve: Work to remove him, rather than disobey legal orders.

(…)

Not only are these acts of sabotage legally perilous; the leaks about them are self-serving. Woodward does not reveal his sources, either in general or in specific instances, but a read of the book strongly suggests that Porter and Cohn are among those who spoke to him. By spreading word that they stood up to the president behind closed doors, these figures hope to burnish their reputations and distance themselves from the stain the Trump presidency leaves on nearly everyone it touches. In doing so, they’ve fingered themselves in another questionable pursuit. If the price of defending democracy and rule of law is to destroy both, the price is too high.

Graham’s colleague David Frum makes a similar argument:

Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is a constitutional mechanism. Mass resignations followed by voluntary testimony to congressional committees are a constitutional mechanism. Overt defiance of presidential authority by the president’s own appointees—now that’s a constitutional crisis.

If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand. That duty may be risky to their careers in government or afterward. But on their first day at work, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution—and there were no “riskiness” exemptions in the text of that oath

The author of the anonymous op-ed is hoping to vindicate the reputation of like-minded senior Trump staffers. See, we only look complicit! Actually, we’re the real heroes of the story.

But what the author has just done is throw the government of the United States into even more dangerous turmoil. He or she has enflamed the paranoia of the president and empowered the president’s willfulness.

There is one serious problem with what we’re learning from the Woodward book and the Times Op-Ed. We didn’t elect these appointees who are stopping Trump from doing dumb things. For better or worse we elected Trump. The idea that there is a secret or not-so-secret group of people in the White House who are actively thwarting the President of the United States is something that ought to concern everyone. If these people truly believe what they are writing, then they ought to resign, come forward, and tell America what is going on inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Replacing their judgment for the Presidents is not the answer and will only lead to chaos. All that being said, it is clear that things are unraveling inside this White House and that it is happening at a far more rapid pace than might have been anticipated. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.

(…)

The author of the anonymous op-ed is hoping to vindicate the reputation of like-minded senior Trump staffers. See, we only look complicit! Actually, we’re the real heroes of the story.

But what the author has just done is throw the government of the United States into even more dangerous turmoil. He or she has enflamed the paranoia of the president and empowered the president’s willfulness.

What happens the next time a staffer seeks to dissuade the president from, say, purging the Justice Department to shut down Robert Mueller’s investigation? The author of the Times op-ed has explicitly told the president that those who offer such advice do not have the president’s best interests at heart and are, in fact, actively subverting his best interests as he understands them on behalf of ideas of their own.

He’ll grow more defiant, more reckless, more anti-constitutional, and more dangerous.

And those who do not quit or are not fired in the next few days w,ill have to work even more assiduously to prove themselves loyal, obedient, and on the team. Things will be worse after this article. They will be worse because of this article.

The new Bob Woodward book set the bad precedent. The high official who thought the president so addled that he would not remember the paper he snatched off his desk? Those who thought the president stupid, ignorant, beholden to Russia—and then exited the administration to return to their comfortable, lucrative occupations? Who substituted deep-background gripe sessions with a reporter for offering detailed proof of presidential unfitness, or worse, before the House or Senate? Yes, better than the robotic servility of the public record. But only slightly.

Graham and Frum both raise excellent points here. The problems with Donald Trump’s Presidency are manifest. They have been detailed in numerous posts here at Outside The Beltway in multiple posts from James Joyner, Steven Taylor, and myself virtually since the day that the President took office. Before that, we paid close attention to the deep flaws that were apparent with regard to Trump based on his rhetoric, his behavior, the positions he took on the issues, and his attacks on individuals and ethnic groups. Despite all that, and similar opposition from both liberal and conservative pundits, Trump managed to eke out a narrow win in the 2016 election that likely was only possible due to the candidate that he was running against.

On top of all of that, we began to learn not long after he took office that the Russian government had engaged in a years-long effort to interfere in the American political system and that they accomplished their goals in no small part by openly and secretly acting to advance the interests of the Trump campaign. We’ve also learned of accusations and potential evidence that suggests that the President’s campaign appears to have reached out to officials connected to the Russian government for assistance in obtaining derogatory information about Hillary Clinton. And we’ve witnessed the numerous ways in which this President has sought to undermine that investigation and to more broadly attack the Rule of Law and freedom of the press when it suits his political purposes.

Because of all of this, the allegations and revelations contained in the Wolff, Omarosa, and Woodward books, the Times Op-Ed, and the numerous leaks that have come out of this White House are not at all surprising. Indeed, they have largely confirmed what was already known about Donald Trump and what everyone other than the most obsequious of his supporters believed his Presidency would turn into. These conclusions are reinforced on a daily basis by what comes out of the President’s Twitter feed, the White House Press Office, and the Republicans on Capitol Hill who have largely surrendered themselves to blindly defending the President regardless of how outrageous his rhetoric or his conduct. More importantly, it all seems to reinforce the conclusion that this President may not be fit to continue serving in office, thus putting the nation in perhaps the most precarious position it has been in since the Nixon Administration.

Despite all of that, they are serious problems with the “resistance” that has apparently taken hold inside the White House.  We didn’t elect these appointees who are stopping Trump from doing dumb things. For better or worse we elected Trump. The idea that there is a secret or not-so-secret group of people in the White House who are actively thwarting the President of the United States is something that ought to concern everyone. If these people truly believe what they are writing, then they ought to resign, come forward, and tell America what is going on inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Replacing their judgment for the Presidents is not the answer and will only lead to chaos. All that being said, it is clear that things are unraveling inside this White House and that it is happening at a far more rapid pace than might have been anticipated. Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.

So what should people like the author of the Times Op-Ed do? Well, Frum has a suggestion:

What would be better?

Speak in your own name. Resign in a way that will count. Present the evidence that will justify an invocation of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or an impeachment, or at the very least, the first necessary step toward either outcome, a Democratic Congress after the November elections.

Your service in government is valuable. Thank you for it. But it is not so indispensable that it can compensate for the continuing tenure of a president you believe to be amoral, untruthful, irrational, antidemocratic, unpatriotic, and dangerous. Previous generations of Americans have sacrificed fortunes, health, and lives to serve the country. You are asked only to tell the truth aloud and with your name attached.

The message to Members of Congress and the Senate who are talking about the problems with the White House and the President behind the scenes but not taking action in public would be similar. These people need to step forward and say on the record and before the cameras what they are telling reporters off the record and in not for attribution settings. The American people need to know the truth about what is going on in Washington, and remaining silent about it in the name of getting tax cuts passed or Judges appointed isn’t a profile in courage, it’s a profile in cowardice. Stand up. Put your country before your party and, if necessary, before your continued tenure in office. If that doesn’t change things then its time to consider taking more radical action such as refusing to act on legislation put forward by the Administration and working with Democrats to pass laws that would place constraints on the President’s ability to abuse his power by doing things such as trying to file Special Counsel Robert Mueller before the Russia investigation is completed. If necessary, it means taking action against this President if it becomes apparent that he has broken the law or abused his power then they need to be prepared to take the action the Constitution requires.

When all of this started back in June 2015 when Donald Trump came down the escalator at Trump Tower, it seemed like this was all going to be a big joke. Most people believed that Trump would play around with being a candidate for a few months before dropping out, or that the entire exercise was a publicity stunt for a new season of The Apprentice as his flirtation with a run for the Presidency in the 2012 cycle. Even though it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t the case, Trump’s Republican opponents did little to try to stop him until it was far too late, and, of course, nobody believed that he had a real chance at becoming President. As it turned out, the joke was on all of us and now we most likely have to wait until January 2021 at the earliest to get him out office. He needs to be opposed between now and then, but that needs to happen in a way that doesn’t run afoul of the law and the Constitution.

The motives of the author of the Times Op-Ed and the people described in the Woodward book and elsewhere are understandable and, perhaps on some level admirable. However, this kind of soft coup isn’t the way we’re supposed to deal with abuses of power in this country. Allowing it to continue doesn’t save the country, it erodes the institutions that bind the nation together as much as the Trump Presidency itself does. If you’re going to stand up against this President, then you need to do it the right way.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Politics 101, U.S. Constitution, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. steve says:

    I mostly agree with you, but lets not minimize the risks a person would take if they went public. Remember that the family(s) of the children killed in the Connecticut school shooting live in hiding because they dared to even dispute Alex Jones, a right wing conspiracy nut. Remember when David French received death threats and pictures of his kids in ovens because he dared to criticize Trump? (Link goes to a National Review article, not a typical source here LOL) Now, what happens to anyone who would come out publicly and reveal stuff about Trump that might lead to Trump’s demise? Whoever would go public would never hold a political job again. That is a given, but I think there is good reason that they should also fear for their own lives and the lives of their families.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/10/donald-trump-alt-right-internet-abuse-never-trump-movement/

    Steve

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    They are so close to getting the Putin style oligarchy they want. But Trump’s buffoonery is threatening it. Pence ain’t much, but he’ll act dignified and do what he’s told. What they want is the base voters, and the Trumpism (except with pro-corporate “free” trade deals) to keep the base, but they want it without Trump. And nobody’s going to bravely sacrifice his own career by resigning or testifying just to support Mike Dense.

    Pence is even more wholly owned by the Koch’s than Scott Walker. This smells like it might be the start of a coup to install Pence without involving Pence.

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  3. James Pearce says:

    However, this kind of soft coup isn’t the way we’re supposed to deal with abuses of power in this country.

    So you’re saying I subscribed to the Times for nothing…

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  4. Joe says:

    I agree with your entire sentiment, Doug. I also understand what steve is saying about Anonymous’s personal safety. But I would also note that Anonymous purports to be part of a group, which sounds like it’s bigger than 2 or 3. If there really is a significant group, they should all step out together. If the group won’t back Anonymous, this may be a less of a coordinated effort than Anonymous imagines.

    I think, however, Anonymous may face a different fear. S/he takes her/his story up Pennsylvania Avenue to Congress and Congress (for all the partisan reasons everyone trots out) says we don’t care – we’re getting a tax cut and reduced regulation, and a conservative judiciary, etc. It’s not like Congress doesn’t already have a better eye into the White House than the rest of us, or the people who will talk to Woodward on the record don’t talk to their buddies on the Hill on the QT. Yet none of this ever gets any traction in Congress.

    I don’t think Congress’s supine response is any excuse for Team Anonymous to try and run an unelected shadow administration – it just points to the larger problem that a coequal branch of government (with their own Article in the Constitution and everything) is rolling over on this. I think it would be far better if Team Anonymous staged a group resignation and rang the bells as loud as they could. But I don’t assume that those who should do anything about it will do anything about it. And, IMHO, that’s why people like Team Anonymous can happen and the root problem.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Again we’re getting trapped in manichaeism. It’s not necessarily either A) Good guy or B) Traitor. Obviously this is an attempt at ass-covering. That does not mean it cannot also be genuine concern for the country. The Reynolds Rule (ahem) states that motives are always plural. Since the dawn of time no one has ever done anything for one simple, discrete reason. Things that simple are called machines.

    The question that defines the morality of this rises from the severity of the threat. Let’s say Trump has his hand on the button and is straining to mash it down, and Mr. Anonymous has his finger stuck in there. Would we then condemn him for not precipitating actions which would force the removal of said finger? No. And going public would remove the finger and thus create an immediate threat.

    That’s obviously a bit of a reductio ad absurdum, but only a bit. We don’t know the level of threat, or its immediacy, so we are not in a position to render final judgment.

    That said, do I think this is ass-covering by a weasel who could easily have realized two years ago that Trump was a mentally unstable pig? Yes. But this appears to be the absolute limit of courage in the Republican Party at the moment. I made the comparison somewhat jokingly on Twitter to Claus von Stauffenberg. Should Stauffenberg have gone public rather than plotting against der Führer? Nooo, he should not have, he should have checked the table legs and moved the fcking briefcase.

    The Constitution is not working at the moment. If it were the Congress would immediately call for hearings on this. Will they? And let Democrats ask questions openly of Trump staffers under oath? Puh-leeze. The Congress is not functioning, and indeed that Congress is desperately trying to ram through an obvious liar and probable perjurer for the very purpose of reducing the judiciary to that same level of servile dysfunction.

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  6. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @steve: I’m not so sure they’ll never hold a political job again. Spicer seems to be part of the “in crowd” again, Scaramouche shows up on CNN all the time…Part of the very real frustration with “the Establishment” that Trump took advantage of is the simple fact is they never seem to suffer any consequences, no matter how disastrously wrong they are about something.

    As for the danger, no, it can’t be trivialized, but its significantly less risk than the danger we send our troops into in the name of the USA and patriotism. If they have damaging info, a patriot would be getting out proof and standing by it, not trying to play the media game like so many Senators do (“Trump is bad, and I will complain in the press, but won’t actually RISK anything, oh no”). All this does is let Trump and his cultists justify his “deep state” BS.

    Certainly, if whoever wrote this expected plaudits and to be hailed a hero, he/she rather badly mis-read things.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I’m with Reynolds on this. There are many shades of gray here. Is the “resistance” thwarting things that would involve crimes (assassination) and/or serious harm to the country, or is it merely policies they don’t like? There is a huge difference between the two. And bear in mind that we consider Oskar Schindler and Chiune Sugihara and Ho Feng Shang to be unreservedly heroes, even though what they did ranged from petty sabotage to misuse of government bureaucracy. But we laud them because they used the tools at hand to save thousands upon thousands of lives. We laud them because they believed that being small cogs, merely protesting or resigning would do nothing so they did what they could.

    I’m not in any way elevating Anonymous to their level. Nor am I saying that he/she is even on the good side of the line. In fact, I find myself on either side of the debate at any given moment. I’m merely pointing out that, as in many things in life, the wrong must be weighed alongside the benefit. It’s not a hard line.

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  8. Kathy says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    I’m not so sure they’ll never hold a political job again.

    Nobody likes a traitor, not even those who benefit from their treason. any job he’d get would be largely symbolic or meaningless.

  9. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The Constitution is not working at the moment.

    The Constitution is working just fine.

    This refusal to see Trump as a political problem is what’s not working.

    Consider, this about the op-ed: Written denials, presumably signed, are being handed into the president right now and the brave hero who wants to disinfect the Trump administration with daylight is cowering in his bunker, hoping he doesn’t get caught.

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  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    There is nothing new here…everyone in DC has been saying the same thing since inauguration day.
    And no one has shown the spine to do anything about it.
    That’s not going to change now.
    They’ve got their SCOTUS pick (obviously a liar and a racist and extremely anti-choice) in the red zone and will get him across the goal line any minute.
    They will keep Dennison in office no matter what to preserve that.
    This is how the Republic ends.
    And all you fvckers who thought we shouldn’t elect a woman because she used her personal email at work, ought to fall on your swords.

  11. Kathy says:

    If I try to imagine being in the position of Anonymous, I can’t come up with any workable idea that would end with Trump being removed from office. The 25th amendment requires a majority of ” either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide.” The former, I assume, means cabinet secretaries. No idea who the latter would be.

    But it’s not that simple.

    Trump could then assert he is capable of discharging his office. The group who wants to oust him would then need to double down (which I assume they’d do, but you never can tell who’d defect given public reaction, political consequences, etc.). And then Congress must vote with a 2/3s majority of both houses that El Cheeto cannot resume his office.

    To me, this seems harder than impeachment.

    Removing the president, or Trump in this case, is really, really, really hard. I see a better chance of a) the democrats winning a 2/3s majority in the Senate, b) someone or a group that could convince el Cheeto to resign, c) someone or a group that could convince el Cheeto not to run for reelection (especially as he could declare victory and lambaste the majority of the country for its ingratitude), d) El Cheeto himself deciding to resign on his own for some insane reason incomprehensible to mere mortals.

    So, not bloody likely.

    Hopefully the Democrats will win the House and provide a real check on Trump.

    I don’t think they’ll win the Senate, and would consider it fortunate if they can keep the current 49 seats they do have, but there may be a small possibility given recent revelations.

  12. Andre Kenji says:

    It’s not a coup. For better or worse when you elect a President you are electing the people that surrounds him. A good and competent person that surrounds himself with idiots will be a bad president.

    When people voted for Trump they voted to have Stephen Miller and General Kelly in the White House.

  13. teve tory says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    And all you fvckers who thought we shouldn’t elect a woman because she used her personal email at work, ought to fall on your swords.

    What’s especially funny is to watch people strain to explain how Colin Powell’s personal email use was No Big, yet Hillary’s exact same behavior was VERR IMPORTANT OMG SRS BSNSS!!!!111

    It’s textbook Special Pleading.

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  14. Scott says:

    In the short term, I think this will blow over in a few days. I also think that this incident will add to the deteriorating Trump support. Right now it is fairly stable but declining. However, at some point, we will reach a tipping point and there will be a collapse of support from which he won’t recover. So be it.

    My main concern is with the so-called “adults in the room”. This “Anonymous” and his/her henchmen are demonstrated to be ego-driven, legends in their own minds type of people. They, are, by my standards, not adults. Nor do they have the best interests of the country in mind but rather their own interests. Regardless of whether Trump is there or not, the policies espoused have damaged this country just as much as Trump has. The tax cut was/is a disaster. They want to tear down protections for ordinary Americans whether it is healthcare, environmental and safety standards, or finances. The looting of America will continue unabated. These adults are the problem just as much as Trump.

  15. CSK says:

    Well, Trump is going to Montana this evening to hold a rally–ostensibly–for Matt Rosendale, but, given that he must be in extra-acute need of adulation now, he’ll probably spend five minutes on Rosendale’s candidacy and the rest of the time basking in the worship of the crowd.

  16. Warren Peese says:

    I reject both Graham and Frum. It’s not a “soft coup” nor a “constitutional crisis”. Trump is so incoherent and volatile, so lacking in awareness of knowing WTF he’s doing, that it’s probably better for saner heads to slow his roll. After all, more likely than not, Trump will come around eventually. Also, they’re serving the Office of the President, not Trump personally.
    The wiser course would be to take the risk and push for a 25th Amendment solution. He’s not fit, mentally or psychologically.

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  17. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    he’ll probably spend five minutes on Rosendale’s candidacy

    Do you really think he’ll waste that much time on trivialities?

  18. Gustopher says:

    From the quoted by by Frum:

    Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is a constitutional mechanism. Mass resignations followed by voluntary testimony to congressional committees are a constitutional mechanism. Overt defiance of presidential authority by the president’s own appointees—now that’s a constitutional crisis.

    Overt defiance is just fine — every cabinet member and staffer should be allowed to say “No, Mr. President”, and if the President wants, he can fire them.

    Sessions recusing himself over the objections of Trump, is overt defiance.

    What this anonymous person is doing is not overt defiance. It is, for lack of a better term, covert defiance, and *that* is dangerous to our country. Unless he or she really is keeping us from an existential threat (periodically taking the nuclear football away from an enraged Trump, for instance), they should either step down and testify, or simply start telling the president “no”.

    The president — any president, even this president — has the right to have their lawfully given instructions carried out, or to have the opportunity to find someone else who will carry them out.

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  19. Kathy says:

    BTW, as things stand, the only path I can see to remove Trump legally ahead of January 2021, would be if he were diagnosed with dementia, and I do mean for real.

    I’d like to say he can be impeached and removed as a result of the Mueller investigation. But I don’t see it, even if he’d shared the names of all CIA agents worldwide with Kim and Putin.

  20. An Interested Party says:

    Nobody likes a traitor, not even those who benefit from their treason.

    Oh really? Trump may have committed treason to get where he is today, but do you think that would bother Republicans? Do you think they would remove the judges he nominated and they confirmed? Do you think they would rescind the tax cuts he approved of?

    And if Republicans haven’t stood up to him by know, what could possibly cause them to ever stand up to him…

  21. Kathy says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Oh really?

    Yes, really.

    Trump may have committed treason to get where he is today, but do you think that would bother Republicans?

    1) “May have.”

    2) No, it won’t bother most Republicans, and won’t even register with his base, because they will twist their brains into nth dimensional puzzles in order to rationalize it as something else.

  22. Scott says:

    One thing that has to be made clear. This anonymous Op-Ed is coming from Republicans, from the right wing. Not from Democrats, not from leftists, not from centrists, not from independents. This is a fight between the right and far right. This is an internecine fight among Republicans. And they are all lying about their beliefs, their loyalties, and motivations. One wonders if there is a fight at a deeper level between various oligarchs. Sounds like Russia.

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  23. Modulo Myself says:

    It’s not really a ‘soft coup’ if you ignore your idiot boss because it’s easier on your life. Trump has no idea what he’s doing. I’m sure most of the soft coup is the equivalent of holding off on writing a 20-page memo because you picked up that the next day your task will be completely different. And I’m sure most of the people who work in the White House have internalized his nonsense and they’re ignoring the noise for the few erratic signals.

    Trump’s base aging sexless control freaks, so of course they’re eager to be disobeyed.

  24. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    Indeed. He seems to have spent most of his time in Billings raving about the “treason” committed by the NYTimes.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: FWIW, when Trump was elected I said that given Republican control I can’t see a way out, but I also don’t think a Trump presidency was sustainable. For the first time I see a plausible path to an early exit. I would not be surprised that, given a House takeover, we will see a Trump resignation in return for a Pence pardon for all federal crimes, past and present, for him and his family.

    If the R’s lose the House, they know the investigations will be an unending freight train full of Republican corruption and misdeeds. Think about how many Trump officials have been shown to be corrupt, self dealing and frankly, incredibly sloppy about it. And this is with the Republicans doing everything they can to protect them. Imagine what will happen if those committees start actually pursuing the truth? This will be all the Republicans deal with for two years no matter what, and they sure as heck won’t want to go through it with an increasingly unhinged Trump. Rather than getting help from the Administration, it will be yet another albatross around their neck. At that point I could see the Repub leadership having a meeting with Trump. And, just as in his first bankruptcy, Trump will take the crumbs and call it a feast and produce a ghost written book on how it proves he was the greatest politician in the history of the world.

  26. Jen says:

    Trump appeared to be slurring words (again) at the rally last night, and had difficulty pronouncing “anonymous.”

    Serious question: does he just need better denture adhesive, or is there something really wrong?

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: Sounds like the Tory Party, actually.

    (The Brits have dragged their heels and kicked the can down the road so far that it looks like the EU reaction right now is “ok, leave. It’s really really stupid for the U.K. to do what it’s doing, and yeah, we’re going to have a lot of pain from you idiots crashing out with no prep, but we’ve had it with you idiots. Scram. Get lost.”)

  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: I’ll repeat here what I said after he slurred during the Jerusalem speech: I think he abuses prescription drugs. Think about the two doctors we know who treated him. His longtime private physician who had an office in Trump tower and whom he could visit whenever he wanted with no one knowing. That guy was as loopy and off the rails as you could imagine and skeevy looking to boot. And then Ronnie Jackson, who he suddenly wanted to elevate to Surgeon General but it turns out Jackson had a reputation for handing out pills like candy, without even examining the patient.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: I think Anonymous is seeing Trump as a political problem just fine. In fact, he’d probably write another editorial tomorrow saying the crisis is over if Trump would just STFU and do what his GOP handlers tell him to like he apparently promised to on the campaign trail when he was looking for someone to do all the heavy lifting while he held rallies for the adoring crowd.

  30. CSK says:

    Trump is now asking Sessions and the DOJ to investigate and find out the identity of the memo writer, because it’s not just treason, but a matter of national security.

    His lemmings appear to be buying this.

  31. Kathy says:

    El Cheeto Loco now wants the DOJ to investigate who wrote the NYT editorial.

    Repeat after me: law enforcement is meant to be used only in law enforcement matters. Not in civil matters, not in customer service, not in family disputes, not in administrative matters.

    And, BTW, Señor Cheeto, setting up a disproportionate response and making suspects out of many people, that is a real witch hunt. But I presume the irony is lost on whatever it is you’ve been using for brains.

  32. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    But Trump doesn’t see it that way. To him, the DOJ exists to do his bidding, follow his orders, persecute those he wants persecuted, and protect those he wants protected.

    He thinks the presidency is the same as that crappy fiefdom he was running out of Trump Tower. He’s the boss, and everyone else does his bidding.

  33. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    You’d think after over a year in office, or pretending to be in office, he’d have learned a few things.

    Yes, yes. I do know this is Trump, who’s very likely incapable of learning.

  34. CSK says:

    @Kathy:

    Well, he thinks that because he “won,” he therefore knows everything he needs to know, because doing things his way led him to victory.

    Gabriel Sherman reports that Ivanka and Jared are trying to persuade Trump that John Kelly was behind the anonymous memo, and that Kelly is trying to destroy the Trump presidency.

  35. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Link or it didn’t happen.

    “He’s destroying your presidency,” Seriously? Like Trump needed any help doing that?

  36. An Interested Party says:

    @Kathy: This group of people could be compared to the Keystone Cops, but that would be an insult to the Keystone Cops…

  37. An Interested Party says: