Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Mark Wignall | Trump’s dangerous dance with dictatorship

Published:Thursday | May 11, 2017 | 12:20 AM

For a man whose norms are anything but normal and who resides, in his mind, comfortably on the far side of the truth, President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday must be seen mainly for what it is. Just more of the deconstruction of the state and the chaos that Trump revels in.

But it is more, far more. One part of the letter the president had hand-delivered to the office of the FBI explains it. "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."

Whoever believes that the FBI director had, on three separate occasions, given Trump a personal heads-up on the investigations into the Russia probe, and especially where it directly involves the president, would have to reconfigure a different James Comey and mould him to suit the narrative that springs from the feverish mind of Trump.

To my way of seeing it, the president did not overstep his constitutional bounds by firing the nation's top cop. Giving as a main reason Comey's mishandling of the Clinton matters on emails, especially his recent misstatements on them, may be seen as putting the Democrats in a pickle. Comey stepped into the pile with that and provided the irascible and now outwardly dangerous occupant of the White House to move in for the kill.

It was the perfect cover for Trump to rid his life and mind of those who were constant thorns in his side. At the end of January he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates who had ordered the Justice Department not to enforce Trump's travel ban. Surely, the president could not have been pleased witnessing her recently telling all her department knew of Mike Flynn and the Russia probe. Too much for the man.




Then in March he got rid of Preet Bharara, US attorney who was investigating Trump's HHS secretary for his financial investments. The hammer came down on Comey on Tuesday and must have provided Trump with more than a moment's relief. The former star of The Apprentice was simply doing what he does best.

Many of the most capable American political pundits and legal minds have arrived at the early conclusion that the firing of Comey has not placed the US and the White House in a constitutional crisis. What they have conveniently forgotten is that Trump wearing the mantle of the presidency is a constitutional crisis.

America has never before seen an occupant of the Oval Office so freely play with the truth as if he was on a playground exchanging weekend boasts with the boys in the schoolyard on a Monday morning. But, as recently said by the most recent former occupant of the White House, Obama, the people deserve the leader they get.

As we here in Jamaica grapple with our problems of violent criminality and economic malaise, we look to our big neighbour to the north and are appalled as we see President Trump chip away at America's many virtues.

With the Republicans basking in the power of controlling the House, the Senate and the White House, I am not expecting that there will be a rush of Republicans sending any signals that they have had enough of this twisted president and are prepared to force his hand and the Justice Department in appointing a special prosecutor for the Russia probe.

What is quite obvious to me is the president is scared and he is acting out that fear with the world as his audience. In his private life before he snatched the presidency there is some evidence that he was the consummate autocrat, always used to having his way and ridding his life of those who stood in his way.

He is a man who thinks only in binary terms. One is either for him or, if not, they are the enemy. He should never have been elected president of the United States. That, however, is too late to live over. His early creep at autocracy has now grown into a sprint.

A few members of the GOP need to stop him now.

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