Reminiscent of the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate, President Trump is stonewalling Congress and the American people on every front, from using claims of executive privilege to prevent disclosure of the complete Mueller report and keep White House officials from testifying before investigating committees, to bullying and attempting to gag the White House press corps.
Yesterday, after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress for ignoring a Congressional subpoena, Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said:
“We have talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis; we are now in a constitutional crisis. Now is the time of testing whether we can keep this type of republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government.”
Check that last line: "...change into a different, more tyrannical form of government." If that doesn't send shivers up and down your spine, nothing will.
But here's how White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders responded:
"“The American people see through Chairman Nadler’s desperate ploy to distract from the president’s historically successful agenda and our booming economy. Faced with Chairman Nadler’s blatant abuse of power, and at the attorney general’s request, the president has no other option than to make a protective assertion of executive privilege.”
The redacted Mueller report that was made public cited numerous acts it said could justify charging Trump with obstruction of justice. Moreover, hundreds of former federal prosecutors, both Republican and Democrat, say there's plenty of evidence to charge the president with a crime. Only one little problem: Mueller buys the Justice Department's position that the president of the United States cannot be charged with a crime.
Well, that's what Richard Nixon thought when he told interviewer David Frost in 1977, "If the president does it, it's not illegal."
"I gave them the sword and they stuck it in and twisted it with relish," he said. "And I guess if I had been in their shoes, I would have done the same thing."
Who does that sound like? Trump says he's a student of history. You'd think then that he'd learn from history.
Bullying the Press
Beyond the showdown with Congress over Executive Privilege -- which may well end up being decided in the courts -- the Trump White House is making it tougher for reporters assigned to cover the White House to do their job.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who has held a White House press pass for the past 21 years, reported today that this week he was notified that his credentials had been revoked.
Milbank said he was "part of a mass purge of 'hard pass' holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all seven of The Post’s White House correspondents. White House officials then chose which journalists would be granted 'exceptions.'"
Eventually, six of The Post's reporters received the "exceptions," but not Milbank, who wrote: "I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic. The move is perfectly in line with Trump’s banning of certain news organizations, including The Post, from his campaign events and his threats to revoke White House credentials of journalists he doesn’t like."
So now the Trump White House is using the very real threat of revoking official credentials over the heads of reporters whose job it is to cover the president. They are our eyes and our ears and we rely on them to sort through the BS and the lies, but now they know that if they incur the president's anger, they could be ousted, just like Milbank.
So Chairman Nadler warns that America could be changing into "a different, more tyrannical form of government." An important step in making that a reality is muzzling the free press, which is exactly what the Trump White House is trying to do.
People. It's time to take notice. Beyond time.
In fact, I ask once again: Who is the "Enemy of the People?"