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Opinion A former DHS official is putting other Trump insiders to shame

A Border Patrol agent walks along a border wall separating Tijuana, Mexico, from San Diego in March. (Gregory Bull/AP)
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Miles Taylor, who served as chief of staff to then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, has recorded an ad for Republican Voters Against Trump that may be the most compelling of the 2020 election cycle:

The ad, released on Monday, strikes one as entirely authentic, its description of President Trump a perfect distillation of behaviors we sometimes glimpse, but which are undoubtedly reflections of his deep emotional and intellectual unfitness to lead. We’ve seen the president’s disdain for law and for facts, his vindictiveness, his lack of interest in the country’s needs (only his own matter). Now, we get some granular detail from an eyewitness. It adds to Taylor’s credibility that he doesn’t go overboard in supporting former vice president Joe Biden; he simply affirms that the presumptive Democratic nominee, unlike Trump, will act to defend the country.

In a Post op-ed, also released on Monday, Taylor adds detail to what we could have only surmised was the story behind chaotic policy rollouts. “The decision-making process was itself broken: Trump would abruptly endorse policy proposals with little or no consideration, by him or his advisers, of possible knock-on effects,” Taylor writes. “That was the case in 2018 when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced, at the White House’s urging, a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to prosecute anyone who crossed the border illegally. The agencies involved were unprepared to implement the policy, causing a disastrous backlog of detentions that ultimately left migrant parents and their children separated.”

The ad raises several troubling issues.

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First, where have Trump’s most senior advisers been hiding? Former defense secretary Jim Mattis, former homeland security secretary and White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, and former national security adviser John Bolton have to one degree or another criticized Trump (although not with the detail Taylor provides), but where are other former administration officials such as H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, Daniel Coats and the slew of chiefs of staff who have cycled in and out of the White House? Why have they not shared the evidence of Trump’s abject unfitness with the public? One feeble argument may be that they did not want to project weakness to allies and foes around the world. Well, if that’s the concern, the cat is out of the bag. The enabling and protecting must stop.

Second, many Republicans in the Senate and House are also fully aware of Trump’s erratic behavior. It has been part and parcel of their dangerous sycophancy to “explain” Trump and make the incoherent seem coherent. They had every opportunity to convict him during his Senate impeachment trial and save the country, not only from someone who by overwhelming evidence was shown to have violated his oath but also from someone they personally knew to be manifestly unfit to serve. The result would not have been a “coup,” as some alleged. Hillary Clinton was not going to be declared the winner of the 2016 election. Instead, Vice President Pence (another silent witness to the Trump horror show) would be president. Tens of thousands of lives lost to the bungled coronavirus response might have been spared.

Third, Republicans are likely heading for losses up and down the ticket in November. Once they are booted out of office, be prepared to hear the excuses and rationalizations. “Oh, I never bought into his act.” “I stopped so many bad things from happening.” If they were wise to Trump and saw any of the conduct Taylor points to, they had an obligation to the country to make clear what was going on and at the very least to oppose Trump’s renomination. Once more, we are confronted with the image of a party — filled with advisers, lawmakers, donors and other office holders — who let a manifestly dangerous character remain in office.

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