Donald Trump is sabotaging America's democracy

Article Image

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper talks to CNN's Chris Cuomo about Attorney General William Barr's suggestion that Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was spied on.

Posted: Apr 12, 2019 1:30 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2019 1:30 PM

For decades Republicans have railed against the size and scope of the federal government. GOP candidates regularly promise to eliminate government agencies, cut waste and fraud in spending and get government out of decisions that, they say, should be left to states, markets and individual families. They argue for smaller, more efficient and better government.

But since Donald Trump's election that principle has turned sideways. Trump and his Republican backers now don't want smaller and better; they seem to want to sabotage the actual work of government. They appear hell-bent on making it less transparent, less responsive and less effective.

And this effort is accelerating.

It was somewhat subtle at first: Trump Republicans started early by trying to strangle the Affordable Care Act without offering a viable alternative to replace it. Courts have repeatedly blocked these attempts, and so the administration and Republicans have worked to kill the law with a thousand cuts. They've cut the advertising budget, making it harder for people to find the plan and sign up. They removed the individual mandate, have undermined -- at every turn -- a program aimed at attracting young people to the ACA, and shortened the enrollment period for consumers to sign up. And late last month, Trump's Justice Department said it would file a legal brief with a federal appeals court to wipe out the entire law.

One might argue that these are just policy differences between the parties. You can make no such argument about another series of moves.

Trump publicly berated Jeff Sessions, then his attorney general, for not being loyal and eventually fired him. He fired FBI Director James Comey for doing what the FBI does: investigate. He fired his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, for actually practicing diplomacy, and forced out his defense secretary, James Mattis, and national security adviser -- H.R. McMaster -- for the crime of providing professional advice.

That's just the start. He's arguably used his office to continue to build his private business (see Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel), and reportedly overruled his intelligence officials to give daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner security clearances.

And as long as we're on the subject of national security, he has repeatedly given more weight to the word of foreign adversaries over the professionals in the US government's intelligence community. It's not just Vladimir Putin and Russia. When it came to who killed Jamal Khashoggi, the President was quick to side with and defend Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudis.

What is even more startling is who the President now wants to bring in to run the government. Matt Whitaker, despite having none of the requisite qualifications to be attorney general, was nonetheless made acting attorney general -- violating longstanding procedure at a critical time for the Department of Justice.

Appointing William Barr as attorney general after Whitaker was no better. Remember: Barr sent the White House an unsolicited 19-page memo outlining, in effect, how the attorney general could, and should, protect the President from Robert Mueller's investigation.

It was one hell of an audition for Trump and secured Barr the job whose accurate description should have cited Roy Cohn -- the toadying counsel to "Red Scare" Sen. Joseph McCarthy and later mentor to Trump -- not the giants of justice from American history.

Now we look to who is going to lead the effort to protect the homeland. Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced out for, among other things arguing that the President had to follow the law and not close the border at El Paso, Texas, and objecting to restarting the administration's odious policy (which she had supported) of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border, citing concerns about court challenges.

Indeed, there is nothing that has reduced trust in government among many Americans than the President's erratic and outrageous policies around immigration.

Last week the President told border agents to defy the law and not let migrants in, two sources told CNN. (The agents' supervisors told them afterward that they had to follow the law.) When the President makes this kind of move, the infrastructure that supports our democracy doesn't crack, it crumbles.

Now the President again is defying procedure and is looking to install a loyalist and immigration hard-liner to run the agency created after 9/11 to fight against terrorism in America. That should warm the hearts of any group planning to attack our homeland.

But in an important way, Trump's appointments to the Federal Reserve are the most shocking and disturbing. The Federal Reserve may be the last bastion of our government not infected with partisan politics. It is run by accomplished economic thinkers, whose decisions are critical to determining our nation's future economic performance as well as the economies of the rest of the world. Trump, eschewing expertise, has decided to nominate Stephen Moore, an adviser from his campaign, and Herman Cain, a former presidential candidate.

First Moore. Although he does have a degree in economics, few in Washington consider him an economist. He is a Republican partisan whose job it is to push Republican economic policies. He's remarkably consistent. When the economy is slowing, his remedy is tax cuts. When the economy is booming, his advice is more tax cuts.

He's more familiar with writing talking points for politicians than discussing the details of things such as quantitative easing. He has no place on the Federal Reserve.

And Cain. He was successful in the pizza business before running for President. But his campaign was derailed by a tax plan called 9-9-9 that no one understood, and multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Since his presidential run, his projects have included promoting penny stocks to unsophisticated investors. (He denies all wrongdoing.) These "get rich quick" schemes are classic rip-offs run by scam artists, not Federal Reserve governors.

The most charitable explanation that Trump supporters always float for all this chaos is that the President doesn't really understand how government works and how Washington operates. I think it is something profoundly worse.

The problem isn't that Trump doesn't understand how our democratic government works: He fundamentally doesn't believe in or trust in democracy as an operating principle for our entire system. I believe he is intentionally undermining faith in our system as a precursor to changing it. Let's all remember what he said at the Republican National Convention in 2016: "I'm the only one who can fix our problems."

He didn't say we had to work together; he subtly said, without saying, that authoritarian government, or the cult of personality, was the only thing that could save our country.

I hope I'm wrong. But if I'm not, it sure does explain his affinity for foreign dictators and illustrates just how dangerous a position our country is in.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115407

Reported Deaths: 3566
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21196765
Lake10493323
Elkhart6528110
St. Joseph6392106
Allen6178202
Hamilton4848109
Vanderburgh360930
Hendricks2715123
Monroe256036
Tippecanoe239113
Johnson2305123
Clark221457
Porter213647
Delaware194262
Cass19419
Vigo182526
Madison164375
LaPorte142340
Floyd135862
Howard130563
Warrick128038
Kosciusko121617
Bartholomew116457
Marshall100824
Dubois96919
Boone96846
Hancock92143
Grant91934
Noble90832
Henry79826
Wayne75414
Jackson7499
Morgan71638
Shelby67229
Daviess66328
Dearborn66028
LaGrange63411
Clinton59914
Harrison57624
Putnam56412
Knox5159
Gibson5114
Lawrence51129
Montgomery50821
White48514
DeKalb47611
Decatur45839
Miami4353
Greene42435
Fayette42113
Jasper3942
Steuben3807
Scott37311
Sullivan33712
Posey3240
Jennings31312
Franklin30725
Clay3005
Ripley2968
Orange28824
Carroll27413
Whitley2707
Washington2651
Wabash2648
Starke2637
Adams2613
Wells2614
Jefferson2483
Spencer2413
Fulton2382
Huntington2363
Tipton22622
Perry22113
Randolph2167
Jay1800
Newton17311
Owen1681
Martin1640
Rush1554
Pike1471
Vermillion1280
Fountain1232
Blackford1193
Pulaski1131
Crawford1050
Brown1043
Parke962
Benton880
Ohio787
Union780
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 148894

Reported Deaths: 4734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26704607
Cuyahoga17375656
Hamilton13036315
Montgomery7755162
Lucas7280364
Butler5933111
Summit5265252
Marion308847
Mahoning3053281
Warren302349
Stark2838175
Pickaway264344
Lorain230786
Delaware223120
Fairfield208753
Columbiana192980
Licking191063
Trumbull1883132
Wood184172
Clark179440
Clermont170723
Lake161951
Medina146039
Greene144432
Allen143069
Miami142851
Portage113266
Mercer111918
Erie93546
Tuscarawas93020
Wayne92767
Ross87924
Richland86119
Madison81512
Darke79942
Belmont71827
Geauga71349
Hancock69510
Athens6692
Ashtabula65748
Lawrence65322
Shelby62510
Auglaize5979
Putnam58523
Sandusky56320
Huron5427
Union5292
Scioto4986
Seneca47014
Ottawa46830
Preble43315
Muskingum4012
Holmes3859
Jefferson3364
Henry31213
Logan3093
Champaign3043
Perry2969
Clinton29413
Defiance28911
Brown2882
Knox28415
Washington26023
Morrow2572
Hardin25213
Jackson2506
Fulton2411
Ashland2374
Crawford2366
Coshocton23411
Fayette2306
Highland2273
Wyandot21012
Williams2073
Gallia18913
Pike1840
Meigs17410
Guernsey1698
Hocking1639
Carroll1527
Adams1294
Van Wert1173
Monroe11018
Paulding1080
Harrison633
Morgan470
Vinton473
Noble280
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 72°
Huntington
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Warm, Summer-Like Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events