The latest Republican defense of Trump is built on a massive lie explains Greg Sargent at the Washington Post/Plum Line. We’ll start there. And then in the closing part of this post I ask why Arizona’s CD2 Rep., Martha McSally, has yet to say, in her words, “what kind of man [Trump] is.”
Now that James B. Comey’s testimony to Congress has painted a picture of President Trump’s contempt for the rule of law that’s far more forceful and persuasive in its dramatic details than Republicans ever bargained for, the new and emerging GOP defense is that Trump is a political and procedural naif. He merely needs to learn the rules. This line of obfuscation requires pretending that many of the events of the past six months never happened.
But this spin from Republicans has a significance that runs deeper than merely revealing the absurd lengths to which they’ll go to protect Trump from political and legal harm. More urgently, their new line unwittingly reveals the degree to which Trump’s abuses of power and assault on our democracy have depended all along upon their tacit and willful complicity — and, perhaps worse, it leaves little doubt that this enabling will continue, with unforeseen consequences.
… “The president’s new at this,” [Speaker Paul] Ryan says, adding that Trump “probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols” that under our system establish law enforcement’s independence from the White House. Others ground the argument in Trump’s business past or affection for the theatrics of disruption. “He’s used to being the CEO,” insists one House Republican. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) adds that Trump is merely being “crude, rude and a bull in a china shop.”
… [The] faux naivete about Trump on the part of Republicans requires forgetting that he is surrounded by experienced officials who are ostensibly there to keep the White House within basic boundaries. Instead, they are willfully carrying out Trump’s relentless trampling of them.
[The] touchingly innocent GOP naivete also requires forgetting all the ways that Trump has flouted the rules — and shown total contempt for our institutions and democratic processes, norms and constraints — on multiple other fronts for months. All these Republicans have witnessed the White House’s repeated attacks on the news media, which have strayed deep into an effort to undermine the fundamental institutional role of the press as a check on lawmakers’ excesses or corruption. They know Trump’s attacks on the courts have shaded into an effort to undermine their very legitimacy at a time when they are constraining Trump’s power to impose an immigration ban, which a senior Trump adviser explicitly described as a test run to demonstrate that his power “will not be questioned.”
Republicans, of course, have done little to nothing to check all of these abuses. But this amounts to more than mere abdication of oversight. It represents a refusal to acknowledge what all of these things add up to — a picture of a lawless president who does not believe that rules, norms or constraints should apply to him. In this context, the spin that Trump will behave once he “learns the rules” represents a much broader and deeper abdication of responsibility to admit to, and grapple with, the authoritarian reality in our midst. Even worse, it confirms that their complicity with these abuses will continue. With Trump likely to descend further, to unforeseen depths, we have only begun to grasp the stakes of this enabling exercise, and have no idea where the bottom lies, in the minds of Republicans, or indeed, if there is any bottom at all.
There is nothing innocent about Trump but the Republicans are pushing a false narrative by way of forgiving Trump much in order to achieve their agenda.
And our CD2 Congresswoman Martha McSally? “McSally said she will spend time ”determining what kind of man [Trump] is“ on May 23 .” She’s had over a year to review Trump’s record of lies, bullying, and boorish behaviors. How many more attacks on our democratic institutions must occur for McSally to come out of her closet and make a pronouncement about “what kind of man” sits in the White House?