April 29, 2019
By Robert Kuttner | Apr 29, 2019
This Is What a Constitutional Crisis Looks Like. After the midterm elections of 2018, many of us comforted ourselves that democracy had held after all. Democrats took back the House, and there was no outright theft other than the structural theft of gerrymandering and voter suppression. But Democrats had won by a theft-proof margin.
Elsewhere, adult minders at the White House, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon were containing Trump’s most lunatic impulses. The “deep state” so vilified by Steve Bannon was doing its job. Trump had failed to dislodge Robert Mueller, whose report would tell all.
That was then. Trump has now shaken off his adult minders, and Steve Miller and Mick Mulvaney are running the White House. Their job seems to be to inflame Trump rather than contain him.
Over at the Justice Department, Trump has finally gotten the AG that he’s always wanted, a polished stooge named Bill Barr. Trump is doubling down on his efforts to rig democracy’s rules, the latest ploy being a deliberate census undercount in states and cities likely to support Democrats, with a pliant Supreme Court inclined to approve.
Four different House committees have issued subpoenas for documents or witnesses, and Trump’s strategy is to stonewall them all. Eventually, the courts will rule on whether Trump and various witnesses must comply or be held in contempt, but the courts grow more Trumpian by the day.
This is what a constitutional crisis looks like. Some argue that the House should forgo an impeachment in favor of ousting Trump in the 2020 election. But pick your poison. Do we believe that an impeachment will fail? Do we believe that the 2020 election will be unrigged?
The Republic’s one ace in the hole is that Trump invariably overreaches. But that tendency to excess also presents its own perils.
This is a do-it-yourself post. Please add your own comforting ending.