To protect him in plain sight

Walter Shaub wrote a column in the form of a Twitter thread yesterday, and USA Today published it as a column today.

Oversight began only after the Democrats took the House. But Trump’s hold on the Senate was absolute. We don’t know what assurances he received behind the scenes, but we saw even longtime Republican senators abandon previously espoused principles to protect him in plain sight. With that protection, Trump engaged in a previously unthinkable level of resistance to congressional oversight. The collapse of this constitutional safeguard was a potentially mortal wound for our system of checks and balances.

I still don’t know why this happened. I still don’t understand why it’s worth it to all those longtime Republican senators to let this obviously terrible person – terrible in their terms as well as ours – do whatever comes into his rotting head.

A last line of defense in this war on ethics and law is the Inspector General community. They’re the eyes of the American people, objective investigators traditionally freed to pursue accountability by the safeguard of bipartisan congressional protection. But the Trump era is a bad time for safeguards. Trump’s eye has turned to the IGs, and Republican senators have forsaken them — no hearings, no media blitz, only a few meek chirps of mild concern. Even the self-anointed patron saint of IGs, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, has abandoned them.

What began with the fall of the ethics program is entering the end game with the potential fall of the inspector general community. The government is failing us, safeguards that took two centuries to build have crumbled, and authoritarianism is eyeing this republic like lunch. It’s down to the people. There is a chance in November to reclaim this land for democracy.

But there is every sign that nothing will stop them.

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