This is why Republicans want to let him get away with everything
Donald Trump has declared that he is above the law, any law.
He did this in a letter his lawyers sent to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in January that his Trump likely leaked this weekend so Fox News employees and AM radio hosts don’t have to bother checking their email. And Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani asserted a general presidential immunity for any immunity when he said that Trump can probably pardon himself.
But Trump’s belief that he can get away with anything is most obvious in his sudden affection for the Chinese telecom ZTE, an affair that more and more looks like most obviously corrupt thing any modern president has ever done.
You know the basics of the story. Three days after a Trump Organization project in Indonesia received a billion dollar cash injection from Chinese interests, Trump suddenly became so concerned about jobs in China and the fate of ZTE that he had to tweet about. Now we know ZTE hired a Trump crony two days later and now US sanctions against the company, which has been accused of both spying and violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea, appear to be ending.
The press has found no meaningful way to speak about corruption as obvious as ZTEgate or the Chinese raining down trademarks on an American “royal family” that continually pursues its personal business interests quite competently while sucking at everything else.
Part of this is the press’ undeniable pro-Trump bias, as described by Crooked’s Tim Miller, and part of it is just the limits of our ability to comprehend this unashamed sort of graft. The result is not only do Republicans show no interest in checking Trump, they rarely even have to answer for role in this conspiracy.
As Data Progress’ Sean McElwee points out, non-American observers grasp the extent of Trump’s corruption better than Americans do. Sean points to a column in the Canadian publication Maclean’s where Scott Gilmore lays out what works with this president:
As I’ve pointed out before, the President can be successfully engaged, and countries like Ukraine, China, and Qatar have demonstrated this. When they want something from the United States, they skip the State Department, and even the White House staff. Instead of approaching their problem state-to-state, they go state-to-man. These countries focus on what Trump wants on a personal level – to enrich his family. So Beijing granted Ivanka trademarks, Qatar invested in one of Jared’s office towers, and Ukraine, with Slavic candor, simply wired half a million dollars to the President’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
For the most part, the western allies understand that if we want the U.S. to do something we must negotiate with the man himself. What we have not grasped yet is, as strange as it sounds, the President of the United States is more concerned about promoting his interests than defending America’s.
Gilmore suggests, somewhat seriously, that the only option allies like Canadians have is to treat him like a Russian oligarch and sanction his personal interests and travel.
This is about as good a plan as anyone has come up with for placing some limits on Trump’s greed and corruption, besides taking at least one House in Congress this year, which will not be easy but must be done.
In order to understand what we should be doing, we have to consider how we’ve got into this mess. Trump broke through every guardrail and ran down the bumpers to kick over the pins to call it a strike. And he did it because no one stopped him. No one stopped him when refused to release his tax returns, when he called for Russian help after being told Russia would try to interfere in our elections, when he used that interference as the basis of the last month of his campaign. No one stopped him when he failed to divest in his businesses, when he hired his kids and let them keep running their businesses, and no one stops him as he lets a horrendous atrocity fester in Puerto Rico.
Not only do they not stop him, this Congress doesn’t even question him. And that’s what they’d do if he pardoned himself.
Part of this is basic “Daddy Knows Best” structure of conservative thought but just as much is the result of Trump coming through on some of the GOP’s wettest dreams, from stealing court seats to transferring trillions to the richest.
Trump’s corruption inseparable with his payback to Putin by waging a trade war on our allies. It all serves the same goal — enriching himself and his family. And it’s all a part of the conservative corruption of our politics that made it possible for a complete fraud to rise this high.
Trump’s biggest advantage is that there is no Trump to call him out. No one is as loud, as shameless and no one is as good at putting out accusations that are almost impossible to be answered without making them more effective. And it’s no surprise that no one is more corrupt.
Democrats need to start explaining how his corruption pervades everything he does from the tax cuts he robbed from you to give to himself to deals with makes with our adversaries to the lies he tells to cover up his crimes. It’s all a part of the same betrayal that won’t let up as long as Republicans have the power to let him get away with it.