A Dangerous Gambit
The FBI raided Donald Trump’s home in Florida, but we don’t know why. Early reports suggest a link to Trump’s alleged removal of classified material from the White House, but until we know more, there is no point in speculating on why the Justice Department has taken the remarkable step of searching the home of a former president. Republicans, of course, are now screaming that the FBI must be destroyed. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has gone so far as to suggest that federal agents planted evidence in Trump’s Florida manse; so much for the GOP as the party of “law and order.”
Investigating a former president and tossing his residence is a massive step, and normally, most Americans would, I assume, be reluctant to even consider it. But Trump, both in and out of office, effectively lives as a Mafia don, thumbing his nose at the laws he was supposed to execute and the Constitution he was supposed to protect. He destroyed the norms that might have given him the benefit of the doubt now, leaving the rest of us to make a simple argument: No one is above the law.
And that includes the commander in chief. The raid on Citizen Trump is high drama, but I fear that the news from Florida is overwhelming an even more shocking story about President Trump and the American military. Law enforcement in the United States has always been an imperfect patchwork of fine departments and corrupt backwaters, of dedicated public servants and dangerous cowboys. But through it all, we have always been able to count on the armed forces of the United States as the apolitical and steady defenders of the American nation.
Trump wanted to change that and turn the military into his own praetorian guard. In an except from a forthcoming book, the journalists Susan Glasser and Peter Baker reveal an exchange between Trump and his then-chief of staff, John Kelly:
“You ******* generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”
“Which generals?” Kelly asked.
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.
“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly said.
Trump refused to believe Kelly: “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” he replied. “In his version of history,” Glasser and Baker write, “the generals of the Third Reich had been completely subservient to Hitler; this was the model he wanted for his military.”
Let us leave aside the problem that Donald Trump might be the most intellectually limited and willfully ignorant man ever to sit in the Oval Office. Still, we must ask: Nazis?
Donald Trump’s role models for the men and women of the finest military of the most successful democracy on Earth were … who? Wilhelm Keitel or Alfred Jodl, both of whom were hanged at Nuremberg? Wilhelm Canaris or Friedrich Olbricht, who were also executed—but by the Nazis for plotting to kill Hitler? Trump has a simplistic belief that the Nazis were effective, efficient, and loyal. (This is an old trope about the Nazis that even pops up in the original Star Trek series: Spock, in a 1968 episode, affirms that the Nazis ran the most efficient state in Earth’s history, which is historical nonsense.)
We should not console ourselves that Trump failed in this effort. It’s too easy, now, to say that “the system worked” or the “guardrails held.” Glasser and Baker point out that Trump, almost from his first days in office, started searching for “his generals,” the men—always men—whose loyalty would transcend trifling documents such as the Constitution of the United States. This is how Trump’s administration ended up infested with people such as Michael Flynn, Anthony Tata, and Douglas Macgregor—all retired military officers, political extremists, and crackpots. Fortunately, Trump failed to find senior officers still in uniform who would bend to his wishes—but mostly, it seems, because he ran out of time.
Trump to be deposed by NY AG Letitia James today
With all the witnesses, documents, emails, etc., he really doesn't need to answer in order to self-incriminate, does he?
Donald J. Trump’s decision not to respond to questions under oath about his business practices in an interview with the New York State attorney general’s office could forestall new avenues of inquiry in a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney.
For years, the district attorney’s office has been investigating whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his properties to gain loans and tax breaks, and prosecutors were presenting evidence to a grand jury in the case early this year. The district attorney’s criminal investigation covers much of the same ground as the civil inquiry being conducted by the attorney general’s office.
But the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, who came into office on Jan. 1, and other prosecutors had developed concerns about the challenge of showing that Mr. Trump intended to break the law, a requirement for proving the charge that prosecutors had been considering, as The New York Times reported in March.
As a result, the grand jury presentation was suspended. Soon after, two senior prosecutors who had been leading the investigation left the office.
Mr. Bragg has said that the investigation is continuing, though he has not offered a clear sense of its direction.
Had Mr. Trump answered questions on Wednesday and stumbled, or unintentionally incriminated himself, it could have breathed new life into the criminal investigation. Mr. Bragg had said that the office would closely monitor the interview.
But the former president’s decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination means his deposition will be of limited use to the district attorney’s office.
A misstep by Mr. Trump would have been a boon for Manhattan prosecutors, but it is unlikely that they were counting solely on the interview to change the course of their investigation. His refusal to speak, however, leaves the future of the Manhattan criminal inquiry uncertain.
How about the more than 7,000,000 e-mails Dick Cheney erased?
Ms Clinton had every right within the law to use private servers. What she didn't do was delete e-mails. How many times did she sit in GOP controlled committees - 10 or 15 times, including a 9 or 11-hour session, and she answered every ******* question.
Why do you speak so many mistruths?
His repertoire is severely limited.
It’s lie, insult, or stay silent.
You never answer to your claims, and won't again today.