I have no jokes today. Today, I feel scared. Donald Trump is doubling down on his accusations against former President Obama, and is asking Congress to investigate Obama’s wiretapping while they also investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. Sean Spicer released the following statement:
“Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling.
President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.
Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted.”
Let that sink in for a minute. The President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, is asking Congress to investigate totally baseless claims about a former president’s actions. He is using his political power to attack a person that he increasingly sees as the enemy, and he is citing a report so completely false that even Republicans are wondering what the flying fuck he’s talking about. That is not presidential. It is not even American. It is authoritarian, it is dictatorial.
I have been horrified, broken-hearted, shocked, and saddened by Trump’s actions. I cried for the refugees affected by the Muslim ban, for the immigrants being deported haphazardly from our country, for the rights of transgender children. I shouted at my friends about the hypocrisy of the Republican Party, and the rise of the alt-right. I seethed about race relations, and the white person’s ambiguity towards the plight of the minority groups in this country. I empathized with the plight of the poor in this country, even when they voted for Trump. The overwhelming feeling, though, was anger: I am angry that this man thinks he can step in and shit all over American values.
But today, I am not angry. I am scared. People speculated that Trump could use his office as a weapon against his “enemies.” But I didn’t expect it to be so obvious, and I didn’t expect it to be so soon. I also didn’t expect it to be Obama—but, now in retrospect, I am not surprised. Earlier this week, Trump blamed Obama for the leaks: “I think President Obama’s behind it, because his people are certainly behind it.” But that feels like ages ago, doesn’t it? I can’t even believe it’s only been a week since Donald Trump made his “presidential” address on Tuesday with a massive shift in “tone.”
I can’t quite even put into words how much fear I felt when I saw the CNN headline. I still can’t quite articulate why it scared me so much. Perhaps I’ve been consuming too much Russia-themed stuff: The Billion Dollar Spy and The Americans will scare you into hating Russia, that’s for sure. But it feels different, somehow. It feels like a gross breach of the power of the Oval Office—and it’s based on a total, complete lie spread by Breitbart. The President of the United States believed an alt-right, extremist web publication and in turn acted upon that “report.” And now people are going to believe it; people are going to believe that Obama wiretapped his phones and no matter what comes to light, this information will forever stain the Russia investigation. People will choose to believe that Obama broke the law, and no matter who disproves it, or who comes out against it, people will still choose to believe it. Trump is eroding the integrity of not only the Oval Office, but also the integrity of the intelligence agencies and Congress. We should all be terrified.
The question now is: what will the Republicans do? Will they unite behind Trump? Will they buckle under his pressure? Or will they push back against the lies? It looks like the Republicans are pushing back—for now. Politico rounded up some Republican statements: Ben Sasse, a senator from Nebraska, said Trump owed it to the public to share any information he knew. Susan Collins, a senator from Maine, said Trump should turn over any evidence he has to the intelligence committee. Marco Rubio said “he had seen ‘no evidence’ to back up Trump’s wiretap claims.” The same Politico article also touched on the Democrats’ responses. Chuck Schumer said, “Either way…the President is in trouble” on Sunday morning to NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Nancy Pelosi said it’s a diversion tactic. So people are responding, but we’ll see how far the Republicans push. At this point, I can’t imagine that Republicans are thrilled by Trump. They are getting very little done, and their legislative agenda keeps being overshadowed (rightfully) but massive scandals. Yet they have to keep Trump’s base happy. What I think will happen is that Republicans will publicly back Trump, but will being working behind the scenes to remove him. They literally can get nothing done with Trump in the driver’s seat. They should be getting nervous—we all should be getting nervous.
Because I can barely keep up the news as it is, if anything else comes up today, I will add it to this post. Things are happening very quickly now, and I don’t see it ending well.
Finally, here’s a really good series of Tweets from Justin Hendrix, a former writer for The Economist. He really lays out what’s going on, and why it’s a problem.