Daily Kos has been granted permission to publish selected excerpts from A Warrning: Please Somebody Do Something About Our Idiot President by Anonymous, the senior administration official who stepped forward last year to assure the public that Donald Trump's most dangerous impulses were being thwarted by themselves and other patriotic Republican staffers. We thank the author for their anonymous generosity.
Look, nobody here said that we were preventing Trump from doing crimes. You will notice that in my original New York Times letter, I specifically said that my colleagues and I were thwarting Trump's "more misguided impulses." The emphasis there is clearly on "more."
Wanting to commit crimes is not one of Trump's "more" misguided impulses. Wanting to commit crimes is just one of Trump's everyday, normal misguided impulses. Asking us to stop Trump from committing crimes while he’s in office is like asking us to stop him from using his phone. We are doing our best to stop him from doing truly insane things that might jeopardize the world economy or lead to a nuclear winter; for critics to complain that we are not also preventing Donald Trump from doing actual crimes is missing the larger point here.
Donald Trump cannot not do crimes. It is not possible for him. Early on in the administration it became apparent that he was pocketing the official White House silverware after every meal served to him. It is not something the staff was willing to challenge him on, so it has continued after every meal, every week, since the inauguration. Nobody had the slightest idea where he had been squirreling them off to until the cleaning crew discovered a sack underneath the bed in the Lincoln Bedroom containing literally hundreds and hundreds of stolen knives, forks, and spoons. Does he intend to take them with him when he leaves office? Does he take them just to prove he can? Nobody knows, and none of us want to.
My point here is that you are not going to have a Donald Trump presidency without at least some lawbreaking, and by some I mean there is going to be quite a bit. Yes, it is true that Trump intervened to make sure Ukraine did not get new military aid in order to "put the squeeze" to that country’s government to give him something of value in return. Yes, everyone here knew at the time that it was extortive and illegal. And yes, if you want to be technical about these things, many of us took steps to help him commit that particular crime, because he told us to.
But is this truly a violation of our Republican values? Of course not, and critics are making too much of this.
The right of Republican presidents to commit at least some crimes while in office has been a staple of Republican political thought for 50 years now. Since the time of Nixon, every Republican president has committed a small set of crimes: obstruction, illegal arms sales, the occasional order to commit a war crime. This is not new, and it has been taken as a given in Republican punditry that the office comes with the free ability to do some crimes, so long as none of it gets too out of hand. Trump squeezing a foreign government for help in the next election, even though it is technically a violation of several laws is, in fact, Nixonian in the best sense of the word.
In fact, this has been one of the few points during his erratic presidency at which he has acted even remotely conservative or Republican, which is why Republican ex-lawmakers like Mick Mulvaney and Mike Pompeo embraced the plan with such encouragement and why our White House legal staff was so effortlessly able to quash word of it in the usual conservative Republican manner. If only we saw this version of Trump more often!