As the Mueller probe gets closer and closer to Trump and his inner circle, the president is beginning to see the writing on the wall. If he does not get rid of Mueller, Trump knows that deeply embarrassing information will be revealed about either his finances or his collusion with Russia. Sean Hannity, Fox and Friends, and Breitbart.com will not be able to spin the revelations adequately, and America will be plunged into a terrifying constitutional crisis as both parties figure out what to do with the most corrupt president in American history. So instead, Trump will most likely try to avoid this scenario by doing something even more unthinkable.
Robert Mueller has damaging info on Trump, and despite the rantings of conspiracy theorists on the far right and far left, every sane person in America knows it. Thus far, Mueller has either indicted or gotten guilty pleas from 19 people and three companies related to Trump, members of his 2016 election team, or Russians who worked to help him get elected. It is breathtaking already in its scope, and any other president in history would have been forced to resign in shame at this point. But the utterly shameless Trump has survived because of the unquestioning fealty of his rabid supporters, the propaganda outlets that have created an alternate reality where he is a victim of a Deep State conspiracy, and the extraordinary cowardice of the Republican Party.
Despite the cocoon within which Trump is hiding, this cannot go on forever. With mounting investigations into every aspect of his life, including the FBI’s recent raid on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen for potential bank fraud, wire fraud and violations of campaign finance law, Trump clearly senses a rapidly turning tide. If he does not move quickly, this could spiral out of his control.
The president had a spectacular meltdown last week, and strongly indicated he was getting ready to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man in charge of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He has been going after Mueller personally on Twitter, smearing investigators, and is now attempting to gain access to the files the FBI seized from Michael Cohen. This is not the behavior of an innocent man, and Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior indicates he is willing to go to extreme measures to protect himself from whatever it is Mueller has on him.
This is how democracies die. When megalomaniac leaders feel their power is being constrained, they take radical action to preserve themselves and destroy every obstacle around them. Trump has already emptied his threadbare administration of dissenting voices and filled it with half baked lackeys who will do exactly as he says. He fired and publicly humiliated Rex Tillerson and Andrew McCabe, two men who were trying to fulfill their obligations to their country and wouldn’t swear blind allegiance to him. He is now looking to destroy the FBI from the top down and make himself untouchable.
The danger of this cannot be overstated, and the country must be prepared to take extreme measures to preserve its standing as a functioning democracy. Because there is little the system can do to prevent Trump from firing Mueller and putting a stop to the Russia probe, at least until November of 2018 after the midterm elections. And even then, it isn’t clear what a Democratic controlled House and/or Senate could do to stop Trump doing as he pleases. There needs to be a two thirds majority in the Senate to move forward with the impeachment process, and it is impossible to see the GOP in its current form siding with Democrats. It is worth noting that the majority of Republicans are refusing to sign on to a bi-partisan bill to protect Robert Mueller. “I don’t think it’s necessary,” the Paul Ryan said during an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “I don’t think he’s going to fire Mueller.”
And that is all we have as a guarantee: Paul Ryan’s word that the president won’t fire Mueller.
The country is approaching a very serious crisis point, and only mass public action can put a stop to this. There is a chance that the GOP will stop protecting Trump if the cost of shielding him becomes too great. The public and every responsible government employee must be ready to take to the streets the moment Trump moves to fire Rosenstein or Mueller. This means walking out of work, mass organized rallies on a daily basis, and a huge grass roots effort to boot every Republican out of office who doesn’t take a stand against Trump in the midterms. The price of allowing Trump to fire Rosenstein and Mueller must be so colossal to the GOP that they have to do something to preserve their party’s very existence.
The situation we are about to face is the one rational political observers warned the country about before Donald Trump was elected. Those of us familiar with history and the rise of fascism saw exactly where this was going and begged and pleaded with Americans not to legitimize Trump or compare him to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Trump has always presented a unique threat to American democracy, the likes of which the country has never seen before. He is the archetype of a fascistic dictator, and exhibits the same traits as all the strongmen he admires around the world. He is a narcissistic megalomaniac who will go to any lengths to get what he wants, even destroying the country he professes to love.
“I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy,” Norman Mailer once said. “Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that.”
The grace of democracy appears to be in danger of running its course in America, and only the public can now save it from descending into the abyss.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.