The march toward full Republican acceptance of a Trump Dictatorship 

52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this.

Moreover, nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote, which is similar to this finding. Larger fractions believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68 percent) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73 percent). Again, this is similar to previous polls.

Not surprisingly, beliefs about the 2016 election and voter fraud were correlated with support for postponement. People who believed that Trump won the popular vote, that there were millions of illegal votes in 2016, or that voter fraud is not rare were more likely to support postponing the election. This support was also more prevalent among Republicans who were younger, were less educated, had less factual knowledge of politics and strongly identified with the party.

Of course, our survey is only measuring reactions to a hypothetical situation. Were Trump to seriously propose postponing the election, there would be a torrent of opposition, which would most likely include prominent Republicans. Financial markets would presumably react negatively to the potential for political instability. And this is to say nothing of the various legal and constitutional complications that would immediately become clear. Citizens would almost certainly form their opinions amid such tumult, which does not at all resemble the context in which our survey was conducted.

Washington Post

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Trump’s “get out of jail free card” may not work

 

Can President Trump pardon himself? Can he pardon his close associates and family members?

These questions have begun to simmer as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III ramps up his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in its interference with the 2016 presidential election. Mueller is also, undoubtedly, looking into whether the president obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, is reportedly under investigation as well.

So it’s a live question: Infuriated by these investigations, will the president try to short-circuit them by pardoning himself and others caught up in the Mueller investigations? And, if he did, would those pardons be valid?

The Constitution’s pardon provision gives the president the power “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” Some argue that because the language is broad and there is no explicit prohibition, presidents may pardon themselves.

But this is simplistic and specious. Presidential self-pardoning would violate the basic structure of our Constitution, and the whole history of the pardon power strongly weighs against the concept.

Presidential power to pardon, including the impeachment exception, is directly modeled on the pardon power of the British monarch. Royal self-pardoning was inconceivable under the British system. Because British monarchs could commit no crime, they had no need to pardon themselves. Self-pardoning, therefore, was never part of the British pardon power — and was not incorporated into the U.S. version. There is no evidence the Constitution’s framers ever contemplated or supported a presidential self-pardoning power, as the debates during the Constitutional Convention make clear.

When presidential pardoning power was proposed at the convention, an amendment was offered to prevent a president from granting pardons in cases of treason. Supporters thought that would discourage presidents from committing treason. Opponents argued that was an unnecessary precaution because if a president were “guilty” of treason, he could be “impeached and prosecuted.” The Constitution specifically provides for “indictment, trial . . . and punishment” of a president under the criminal laws, in addition to impeachment.

Implicit in the opponents’ argument was the view that a president could not have any power to pardon himself. Otherwise, he could commit treason (or any other crime), pardon himself and then, except for being removed from office through impeachment, go scot-free. The power to self-pardon would thwart any criminal prosecution of the president and stymie full accountability.

At the constitutional convention, opponents of the amendment won. Their view that the president must be subject to prosecution rules out any presidential power of self-pardon. Because it prevailed then, that view must shape our interpretation of the Constitution today.

A presidential self-pardoning power would seriously undermine the rule of law. If presidents could self-pardon, they could engage in monstrously wrongful and criminal conduct with impunity. That would utterly violate the framers’ belief in a limited presidency and in the idea that no president is above the law.

James Madison said, “No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause.” Self-pardoning presidents would be acting as their own judge and jury, which no one is permitted to do in our constitutional scheme. It would stand in jarring contrast to the rest of the Constitution.

Then there’s the matter of actual precedent. No president has ever decided to pardon himself, including Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who all faced special prosecutors investigating their conduct. Self-pardoning would have been seen as a clear-cut admission of guilt, not to mention an outrage against the constitutional order. Further, if the pardons were challenged and invalidated, presidents would have the worst of both worlds — they would be open to prosecution, and their guilt would be widely believed.

So, if Trump pardoned himself, the pardon could be challenged in a prosecution brought against him, and a court could, and likely would invalidate it.

Although presidents may not pardon themselves, they may pardon their confederates in crime. But if these pardons are intended to shield a president from prosecution or otherwise facilitate committing a crime, the president could be impeached or prosecuted for granting such pardons. Remember, the Watergate burglars were offered presidential pardons for their silence. This formed one of the many charges against Nixon in the articles of impeachment voted by the House Judiciary Committee.

The Constitution treats the pardon power as it has generally been seen throughout history — as a way of injecting mercy into the justice system. It was never viewed as a vehicle for presidential abuse of power, which is what giving the president the power of self-pardon would be.

Washington Post – Elizabeth Holtzman, a Democrat from New York, served in the House of Representatives from 1973 to 1981, including on the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation.

 

Trump and the NRA incite the fringe right—Happy July 4th!?

 

Dana Loesch an American conservative talk radio host and television host at TheBlaze stars in controversial new NRA commercial that many believe is a call to action for the heavily armed fringe right.

The NRA ad is aligned with Donald Trump’s “American Carnage” inauguration speech — uncompromising, outraged and gloomy.

The ad begins with Loesch’s voice painting a dire picture of the U.S. political climate and culture.

“They use their media to assassinate real news,” Loesch says scornfully. “They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again.”

The video has generated more than 6 million views, thousands of comments and shares — and lots of controversy.

One Facebook user commented under the post.

“I’m an old white guy and a life member, but this BS is disgusting,” “When you spew crap like this, you don’t speak for me anymore. I try to avoid doing things on the spur of the moment, but I’ll be thinking about canceling my membership.”

“Jeeeeesus … it almost looks like you’re encouraging violence against demonstrators,” another person wrote. “Just let the police do their jobs when or if protests get out of hand.”

Critics released a petition calling for Facebook to remove the video, which the petition refers to as “inflammatory.” “All we have to do is look at the increase in violence since the election to see how unchecked violent rhetoric has real life consequences,” the petition states. “Letting this disturbing video stay on Facebook would be extremely irresponsible and could very well lead to disastrous repercussions.”

“The video tries to create an ‘us-vs-them’ narrative and pit Americans against one another,” the petition adds. “It paints liberals as liars and as violent, unruly protesters who law-abiding gun owners need protection from.”

In the ad, Loesch accuses “their” ex-president of endorsing “the resistance,” a movement of demonstrators who “smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports — bully and terrorize the law-abiding.”

“The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country, and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth,” Loesch concludes. “I’m the National Rifle Association of America, and I’m freedom’s safest place.”

And then there’s Trump’s not so subtle call for physical attacks

CNN contributor Ana Navarro warned Sunday that Trump’s tweet was an incitement to violence, and she worried that the president’s supporters would eventually act on his encouragement.

“This is just going way too far,” the conservative commentator said. “The president of the United States is inciting violence against the free press. In America, we cannot stand for it.”

The reporter who revealed the “obviously racist” and antisemitic Reddit user who created the animated image of President Donald Trump body-slamming CNN has been deluged with death threats.

Jared Yates Sexton, a journalist who teaches writing and linguistics at Georgia Southern University, reported Sunday that the president had shared an internet meme created by a Reddit user called “HanAssholeSolo.”

That person made frequent racist and threatening posts on Reddit, including one earlier this month identifying Jewish employees of CNN.

Sexton tweeted Monday that he had gotten numerous threats — often accompanied by antisemitic and Nazi themes — since revealing the meme’s creator.

Jared Yates Sexton  ✔ @JYSexton

Yesterday I broke the news that the guy who made Trump’s CNN gif also created an antisemitic meme and was obviously racist. 2/

Jared Yates Sexton ✔ @JYSexton

In the wake of that, I received numerous threats. I was told people wanted to shoot, strangle me, hang me, throw me out of a helicopter 3/

“Now articles are showing up on Neo-Nazi websites, there are videos spliced with Goebbels telling me not to test his patience,” Sexton tweeted. “That one also has footage from Natural Born Killers of a journalist being executed by a shotgun. On forums, under my tweets, there’s a list of excerpts from newspaper articles about journalists being slaughtered, the details gory.”

Sexton said some people had accused him of making up the threats, followed by a threat of their own.

“This environment is the creation of the man in the White House,” Sexton said. “There are valid criticisms of the media, many on point, this isn’t that. When you start calling a group of people enemies of the country, this is what happens. When you call them scum, this happens.”

He laid some of the blame at the feet of InfoWars’ radio host Alex Jones, who tells his listeners the mainstream media are pedophiles and Satan worshippers.

“Everyone keeps bringing up the shooting in Virginia,” Sexton said. “In a way, they’re right. That’s what happens in this environment. This shouldn’t be a country where these violent instincts are cultivated and encouraged. We’re at a real tipping point right now.”

Jared Yates Sexton  ✔ @JYSexton

This shouldn’t be a country where these violent instincts are cultivated and encouraged. We’re at a real tipping point right now.

Jared Yates Sexton ✔ @JYSexton

But make no mistake, there’s something growing in this country, and it is very, very ugly.

A history of incitement

Last year on the campaign trail, Trump regularly encouraged violence at his rallies.

Documented instances of such incitement and outbreaks of violence throughout the campaign cycle including:

And that’s just a taste of what happened throughout 2016 at Trump rallies. As the year progressed, Trump’s encouragement to his violent supporters crossed several lines including:

 

The Guardian summed up Trump’s time on the campaign trail succinctly:

You can trace back the decline in our politics to a single campaign and a single candidate, who riled up his crowds to turn on the press and hurl abuse in their direction.

That’s the same candidate who longed for the days when he could punch protesters in the face. Sure enough, his supporters ended up punching people in the face.

Fortunately, the rule of law still endures in the courts, where a Kentucky judge recently denied the candidate’s claims that he was just exercising his rights to free speech and couldn’t be sued for inciting violence.

The candidate is of course now president of the United States, who calls the media “the enemy of the American people.”

 

Who will stop Tinpot Dictator Trump?

“YOU’RE FIRED!” That’s what Donald Trump would bark from his boardroom chair at the end of each episode of “The Apprentice.” For years, millions of Americans would smile, laugh, and even cheer in front of their television sets as the property tycoon performed his signature move.

There is little to laugh about this week. The firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump will be remembered as a dark and depressing day in the downward spiral of American democracy. It’s difficult to disagree with the scathing assessment of CNN’s senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who described the sacking as a “grotesque” abuse of power. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” he told host Wolf Blitzer in a clip that has since, deservedly, gone viral. “They fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.” Toobin continued: “This is something that is not within the American political tradition. … This is not normal, this is not politics as usual.”

There is indeed nothing “normal” about removing the head of the FBI from his post less than four months into a new presidency — and an FBI boss who has been credited with delivering that president his election victory, against the odds. You have to go all the way back to 1993 to find the last — and only other — time a president (William J. Clinton) decided to dismiss his FBI chief (William S. Sessions). And the latter, unlike Comey, was accused of a long list of bizarre ethics violations including, as the Washington Post reported at the time, “charging the government for personal travel,” diverting FBI aircraft to pick up his wife, Alice Sessions, in other cities, and deploying FBI cars “to take her to get her nails done.”

Nor is there anything “normal” about an American president sending his long-standing head of private security, and former bodyguard, to hand-deliver a letter of termination to his FBI chief. There are tinpot dictators in Africa who would have avoided doing that simply in order to avoid giving the wrong impression. Tinpot Trump, however, didn’t care. (His brutish security chief, Keith Schiller, lest we forget, spent the presidential campaign smacking Latino protesters and manhandling Latino reporters on behalf of his boss.)

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was also sacked by Trump via hand-delivered letter. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was sacked by Trump after he refused to resign. What do Comey, Yates, and Bharara have in common? “They all were investigating Trump when they got fired, and there’s a Russia thread in each of their cases,” observes Shannon Vavra of Axios.

 

“You’re fired!” This is how Tinpot Trump deals with those who seek to hold him to account. We can’t say we weren’t warned. He has, after all, never hidden his authoritarian inclinations, his brazen disregard for political, legal, and social norms.

Trump, the property tycoon, slammed Mikhail Gorbachev for not responding to anti-Soviet protesters with a “firm enough hand,” while gazing in awe at the Chinese show of “strength” against the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989.

Trump, the presidential candidate, lavished praise on Vladimir Putin as a president who “has been a leader far more than our president [Obama] has been” and who had “great control over his country.”

Trump, the president, in his very first speech to the nation, did his best impression of super-villain Bane from “The Dark Knight,” delivering a dystopian address on “American carnage” while vowing to “make America strong again.” On Twitter, he has referred to the media as an “enemy of the American people” and denounced a “so-called judge” who dared to rule against his “Muslim ban.”

Is it any wonder that experts on authoritarianism and fascism have been sounding the alarm bell for many months now? Listen to Ruth Ben Ghiat, the New York University history professor who has written a book on the rise of Mussolini in pre-war Italy. Trump “is an authoritarian,” she told me on my Al Jazeera English show in February, “who has the ability to stretch the boundaries of democracy to something unrecognizable.”

Is it any surprise that commentators have been invoking President Richard Nixon’s infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox? Listen to John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon, who believes Trump is much worse than Nixon and told The Atlantic in January: “The American presidency has never been at the whims of an authoritarian personality like Donald Trump.”

With Nixon, the checks and balances worked. He was stopped. Eventually. Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The congressional Republicans? You’re kidding, right? They have marched in partisan lockstep with their Dear Leader since he won their party’s presidential nomination last summer.

Consider their treatment this week of Yates, who testified in front of the Senate on Monday. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose wife Trump mocked as ugly and whose father he accused of colluding in the assassination of JFK, decided to attack Yates on behalf of the president over her refusal to defend Trump’s “Muslim ban” in court.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, who Trump has called “incompetent” and an “embarrassment,” decided to echo a key Trump talking point by asking Yates about who leaked classified information about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, rather than about the substance of those ties.

These are the elected representatives in whose hands rests the fate of the U.S. Republic? Seriously?

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The Democrats? They will line up to appear on MSNBC and loudly demand a special prosecutor; they may even become bold enough to talk impeachment. But they are the minority party in both chambers. They don’t have the votes to demand anything. Nor do they have much credibility in the eyes of the public — a recent poll revealed the Democrats to be less popular than the Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump himself.

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The courts? Here and there, maybe, but over one and possibly even two terms? And as the president’s patronage powers kick in? I doubt it. Remember: The Trump effect on the U.S. judiciary will go far beyond the appointment of ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Trump has inherited more than 100 court vacancies from Obama, which is more than double the number of vacancies Obama inherited from Bush in 2009.

Who will stop Tinpot Trump? The U.S. media? Give me a break! So much of the so-called fourth estate has embarrassed itself with fawning and deferential coverage of the president; cable news sees Trump less as a threat to democracy and more as a cash cow and ratings boon. In recent weeks, CBS Sunday morning anchor John Dickerson was escorted out of the Oval Office after he asked Trump a question the latter didn’t like, while CNN’s Van Jones and Fareed Zakaria fell over one another to declare Trump “presidential” because he gave a good speech and launched a few missiles at Syria.

American checks and balances are out of whack. The firing of the FBI director is only the beginning. There will be more sackings; more political corruption; more abuses of power. And, again, we can’t say we weren’t warned. Tinpot Trump, cautioned John Dean back in January, “is going to test our democracy as it has never been tested.” Whether American democracy is up to that test is another matter.

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/10/after-james-comeys-firing-who-will-stop-trumps-tinpot-dictatorship/