When the nation’s Founding Fathers and Constitution’s framers considered how the new republic would be governed, they were well aware of the inherent dangers of a government’s authority resting in one man. Of course it is why they created a government with three separate but equal branches as a means of checks and balances – to prevent what they were subjected to under an English monarchy. That system of government worked fairly well for 240-plus years because the Legislative and Judicial branches understood the concept of separate but equal and exercised their constitutionally-mandated oversight of the only branch most likely to become authoritarian and its head a dictator.
Trump made it abundantly clear, even before his poorly attended inauguration, that he was not interested in following the rule of law or the Constitution; he did complain early on that the Constitution was “bad for America” because it prevented him or his criminal cohorts from ruling unilaterally and unchecked. That complaint by the head of the Executive Branch was a portent of what transpired recently when Trump refused to execute an act of Congress because it involved punishing the hostile foreign nation that granted him access to a place he should be banned from visiting, much less occupying.
If any American is still confused whether or not dirty Don Trump exists to serve the interests of Russia and Vladimir Putin, his refusal to impose sanctions as mandated by a ridiculously overwhelming majority of the United States Congress should enlighten them. If not, they are either idiots, dirty racists, or evangelical fanatics supporting the authoritarian in the White House.
There have been insinuations over the past year that a few of Trump’s actionspresented the government with an honest-to-dog Constitutional crisis, but they pale in comparison to Trump’s refusal to do what his overseers, the United States Congress, mandated was his Constitutional duty; execute the will of Congress.
This particular incident, violating Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution (take care clause) represents two separate “constitutional crises.” Not only did Trump thumb his nose at an act of Congress, that very same Congress is thumbing its nose at the Constitution by not exercising its oversight of the executive branch. As this column noted the other day, America as a representative democracy is in a critical state because both Trump and Republicans in Congress refuse to adhere to the rule of law or govern according to the Constitution they all swore a “so help me god” oath to support and defend.
Instead of announcing he is a dictator and is going to violate the law to protect his Russian facilitators, Trump’s State Department issued an announcement with a genuine bovine excrement excuse for not adhering to the United States Constitution:
“Today, we have informed Congress that this legislation and its implementation are deterring Russian defense sales. Since the enactment of the . . . legislation, we estimate that foreign governments have abandoned planned or announced purchases of several billion dollars in Russian defense acquisitions.”
It is a striking assertion, but a Trump state department representative actually saidthere was no need for sanctions “because the legislation is serving as a deterrent.”
So, the just the idea of sanctions “deterred” Russia from interfering in elections? Even for a Trump statement, this is a mind numbing assertion. In no universe are sanctions ever meant as a deterrent; these particular sanctions were passed specifically to punish the Ruskies for helping Trump and Republicans in the 2016 elections as the nearly unanimous legislation Trump signed explains.
As the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) stated directly after the State Department announcement:
“The State Department claims that the mere threat of sanctions will deter Russia’s aggressive behavior. How do you deter an attack that happened two years ago, and another that’s already underway? It just doesn’t make sense. I’m fed up waiting for this administration to protect our country and our elections.”
The legislation’s title, “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,” states that its explicit purpose is “to counter aggression by … the Russian Federation and for other purposes.” The legislation’s word choice, to “counter” cannot possibly be misconstrued as “to deter” something; especially something that occurred well over a year-and-a-half ago. Add to that the legislation “was widely billed by Republicans as a response to Russian interference in the 2016 election.” Even idiot Republicans comprehend there is no such thing as “deterring” a long-past event.
Still, no matter that Trump is lying about the purpose of the unanimous vote in Congress, or that the vote is working to “deter” Russian interference, there is the constitutional crisis of the “dictator” willfully refusing to follow the will of Congress.
Another issue it that there is no “success” in deterring Russian interference in America’s electoral process according to the Trump administration. In fact, mere hours prior to Trump’s State Department alerting Congress that the head of the executive branch is violating the Constitution, Trump’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director issued his own statement warning that Russia was continuing to intervene in the 2018 midterms. CIA chief Mike Pompeo said:
“I haven’t seen a significant decrease in their [Russian] activity. I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that, but I’m confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election, [and] that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”
There was no explanation from Pompeo for his “confidence” that America will have a free and fair election when he is equally as confident that Russia is continuing to interfere in American elections. Still, despite Pompeo destroying Trump’s excuse for not imposing sanctions according to a near-unanimous vote by both houses of Congress, it does not address a lawless White House occupant refusing to follow the will of Congress, and by extension the will of the people.
Republicans being the criminal conspirators and beneficiaries of Russian electoral assistance they are likely knew Trump had no intention of adhering to the Constitution by executing Congress’ sanctions. Trump said the sanctions were “seriously flawed” and claimed he only signed them to avoid having his veto overridden; as if he could have ever vetoed a “veto-proof” 98-2 vote in the United States Senate and 419-3 in the House. Even if Trump refused to sign the legislation, it would have went into effect according to the law of the land.
Trump still claims it is doubtful that Russia ever interfered in the 2016 election despite 17 different American intelligence agencies contrary claims; including his hand-picked CIA director. It is glaringly apparent this particularly deliberate constitutional crisis is solely because Trump is not going to bite the Russian hand that gave him access to the White House; and congressional Republicans are not going to punish Trump because they received Russian election assistance in 2016 and will again in 2018.
It is obvious that Republicans in Congress are not going to hold Trump accountable for what is certainly a constitutional crisis. They simply accept that their party’s standard bearer is not going to adhere to the law of the land any more than they are going to exercise their Constitutional duty to exercise oversight on a lying corrupt dictator; they are too busy harassing a Special Prosecutor and investigating American intelligence agencies so Trump can continue shielding Putin from sanctions.
America as a representative democracy under the rule of law is doomed because the U.S. Congress is allowing the head of the Executive Branch to openly defy the will of Congress and violate the U.S. Constitution in the process. Trump not “taking care” to execute legislation by Congress is, no matter how one parses it, the action of a dictator, autocrat, despot, tyrant or whatever moniker applies to a lawless cretin like Trump. Tragically, now Trump knows Congress will never hold him responsible for violating the law of the land and that should terrify the life out of every American – including Republicans in Congress.