The constitutional conservatives don’t much care

Jennifer Rubin points out that Republicans have done everything they can to enable Trump so far – refusing to legislate to protect Mueller, refusing to remove Nunes from the House Intelligence Committee – with the result that Trump is seizing even more rope.

Trump and his legal team seem to have drawn the lesson from Republicans’ muteness that there is little Trump could do or say that would cause Republicans to stop his executive overreach and attacks on the rule of law. Seeing no objection, Trump and his legal team now feel comfortable throwing around talk of self-pardon or making claims that he is beyond the reach of laws prohibiting obstruction of justice.

And the world seems to be yawning and turning over in bed. Trump has just declared himself beyond the reach of the law.

David Frum has an excellent thread on how the Stuart kings tried to do exactly that.

There’s more, and I didn’t know any of it; I need to read up on the 17th century.

How did Trump get the idea he has powers that allow him to fire anyone, even for an illegal reason (e.g., a bribe)? We’re only talking about self-pardon (Trump tweeted this morning, “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”) because Republicans were largely indifferent to pardons of cronies such as Joe Arpaio and right-wing race-monger Dinesh D’Souza. When reports suggested that the president’s team might have dangled pardons in front of key witnesses, you did not see Republicans in Congress leap to object.

This is what I’m saying. Everyone should be highly alarmed right now, but apparently not everyone is.

To be sure, Democrats are speaking up. “Donald in Wonderland: through a legal looking glass, no President can be prosecuted because whatever he says is the law. Too absurd even for fiction. In fact, no one is above the law,” tweeted Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). In a similar vein, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), pointed out, “The President’s legal arguments would render whole sections of the Constitution moot, and allow a president to engage in any form of criminality and obstruct an investigation into his own wrongdoing. Nobody is above the law. Not this President. Not any president.”

But Democrats are the minority, and the Republicans are looking fixedly out the window and whistling.

In short, the reason Trump feels emboldened to make frightful claims of vast executive power is that the constitutional conservatives don’t much care about the Constitution and aren’t conservative in any meaningful sense of the word. Elected Republicans created a constitutional monster — and, along the way, violated their oaths and their moral authority to govern. The larger conservative media have become cheerleaders for an executive power grab they would never tolerate in a Democratic administration. The voters in November will get to decide if that’s the sort of government — absolute power for Republicans — they want.

If the voters are still allowed to vote by then.

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