In the dark days following the 2016 election, after the initial shockwave of fear, dread and more fear subsided, I began to spitball various ways the emerging Resistance could successfully slow or stop the worst of the damage from the then-forthcoming Trump presidency. Based on everything we had witnessed beginning with Trump’s awkward escalator ride and continuing through every horrendous screechgasm along the way, we knew exactly what kind of president he’d be — specifically, an incompetent, whiny and dictatorial one — and we weren’t wrong. About any of it. Frankly, those of us who called it ahead of time deserve some acknowledgment for accurately warning the world about what was about to happen.
Regardless, I thought about the 25th Amendment as a remedy. I considered the midterms as a mandatory check on Trump’s awfulness. There was the filibuster and the possibility that some anti-Trump Republicans might foil Trump’s agenda. Despite the grim circumstances facing the world, there was a sliver of hope.
But I never considered the possibility that Trump’s own senior officials would turn against him. And today, nearly two years since 11/9, the mutiny is underway.
On Wednesday, and directly on the heels of The Washington Post‘s excerpts from the revelatory new Bob Woodward book, The New York Times published a galactically massive op/ed in which a “senior official in the Trump administration” reports that he/she is part of an internal Resistance squad of Trump staffers who are quietly yet busily thwarting Trump’s more sinister and dangerous impulses. We can only guess that Trump is busily familiarizing himself with the term “quisling.” In fact, an MSNBC staffer reported that Trump referred to the anonymous author as “gutless.”
But what’s likely been happening inside the White House since Tuesday is not unlike a less violent take on the ending of Scarface, with a radically paranoid Trump surrounded by enemies and it’s only a matter of time before something explodes. It’s no wonder. The author of the op/ed dumped more fuel onto an already-burning dumpster fire, capable of engulfing the entire Trump presidency.
Among other things, the author reported:
- “Many” senior officials are collectively “working diligently from within” to sabotage Trump’s agenda.
- The author supports the president when it comes to “many of [Trump’s] policies.”
- These officials have vowed to “preserve our democratic institutions.”
- “The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,” the author wrote.
- The official is worried that Trump isn’t behaving like a conservative Republican.
- Trump’s leadership style is “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Exactly what so many of us on the outside have observed.
- Senior officials are acting to guard their work from Trump’s “whims.” I’ve referred to Trump’s actions as “cruel whimsy” on many occasions.
- The author wrote, “Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.”
- Trump’s behavior is described as “erratic.”
- Those who the news media perceive as “villains” are actually the ones who are thwarting Trump.
- The author says we should find “cold comfort” in the reality that there are “adults in the room.”
- Quoting the piece: “On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.”
- And finally, the author describes how cabinet officials discussed triggering the presidential removal options in the 25th Amendment.
Obviously, everything we’ve been discussing since 2015 is happening, short of some of the more extreme forecasts, but those are perhaps yet to come. It won’t take much for Trump to blow gasket from the combined impact of these articles along with the growing number of legal catastrophes he and his family are facing, and it’s still possible for Trump to start arresting dissidents before this is all over, beginning with whomever he suspects are the Resistance moles under his roof.
And that’s why, at least for now, I’m not as militant about the author and other officials emerging publicly to condemn their own administration. I understand the reasoning of David Frum and others who are wondering out loud why these turncoat Trump staffers haven’t joined forces to resign in protest and to go public with their grievances, describing openly Trump’s spastic, childish behavior behind closed doors. I really get it, and my first instinct was to exclaim, “Attach your name, you coward!” But after thinking about it, unless Trump is prepared to resign soon, the departure of these officials would leave Trump alone in the White House with only his sycophants and exactly zero moles such as the author to keep Biff in check as described in the op/ed.
In other words, if all of these officials go public, they’ll either resign or Trump will fire and perhaps order the military to arrest them for treason. That means no more quislings inside the White House to stymie Trump. That’d be fine if Trump were days away from leaving office, but he’s not. Are we positive we want these officials to out themselves? There’s no way of knowing for sure yet, but the author of this article and his/her allies are preventing serious disasters from exploding in our faces. Seriously, if this is the case, leave them alone — let them continue their work. Trump has to be contained by any legal means necessary.
I realize we want to see these people hurt. And they will be, especially the Trump family and his inner circle. Until then, and especially as the Trump White House slowly immolates, we need all of the frenemies we can get — working to screw Trump from within. And after Trump’s forced out of office via constitutional remedies, we can sort out all the villains and the heroes. Based on these bombshells, however, the end might not be far away.