Given all that, I confess to being a bit stunned. No, no, not about Trump. He’s already shown disloyalty to the United States in openly admitting he would accept foreign help to win an election, lying about an ongoing Trump Tower deal for Moscow and siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the conclusion of our intelligence community that Russia meddled in our election. We should not be surprised by any act of treachery, corruption or stupidity Trump might commit.
Likewise, I am sadly not surprised that no Republican in the House or, with the exception of Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) (who reportedly joins with the ranking Democrat in saying the issue must be resolved), in the Senate has spoken out. Republicans would rather let a serious national security risk involving Trump be covered up than show any daylight between themselves and Trump. I’m not sure there is any clearer example of a violation of their oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
What does stun me is that the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire would have not followed the law on such an urgent manner by forwarding the complaint to Congress and, instead, allowed himself to be bullied by the Justice Department and/or the White House. I’m genuinely surprised, not that Attorney General William P. Barr would try to cover up a serious complaint (that is apparently his primary role in this administration) but that no other Justice Department lawyer would have refused to participate in this cover-up. Similarly, is there not a single lawyer in the White House counsel’s office who has any concern for the Constitution or the security of the country?
These figures and others who may be privy to the details in the complaint might rightly have feared criminal prosecution if they divulged the contents of the complaint, but how about resigning on principle? How about quitting and publicly stating they are quitting because the law has not been followed and the executive branch is running a cover-up operation? I guess that’s not a thing people do anymore.
Beyond the immediate situation, I remain stunned that admirable and honest public servants who no longer work in the Trump administration, including former defense secretary Jim Mattis, former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, have not come forward to level with the country, to give us chapter and verse as to how this president operates and what they observed. We are fast approaching a constitutional crisis and a situation in which the president allegedly made a deeply troubling promise to a foreign leader. What are these former officials waiting for? An actual war? A Trump engraved invitation to Putin to take all of Ukraine?
I confess I do not get it. The lack of moral courage and the bizarre priorities evidenced by those who enable Trump with their silence suggest we need a thorough power wash of the D.C. Augean stables, a purge of Republicans as sweeping as that following Watergate. We need explicit laws, apparently, requiring executive-branch employees to go to Congress in these situations and setting up clear guidelines for when and on what subjects the Justice Department can communicate with the White House about specific enforcement matters.
After all that, we then need a serious public discussion about citizenship, government service and public ethics. A great many people have utterly lost their way, and the consequences will be severe for our democracy.