Last week, Donald Trump unceremoniously axed his FBI director amidst an active investigation into his administration's alleged ties to Russia. On Tuesday, we learned of the existence of at least one internal memo detailing the president's attempts to kill the probe, an act that could amount to obstruction of justice. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed a special counsel to aid the law enforcement agency, because acting Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the case. Meanwhile dual reports have emerged that Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn created a back channel with the Kremlin in the months preceding the 2016 election and that he quashed a U.S. military operation as a paid agent for the Turkish government.
Surely Republicans, who hold majorities in the House and the Senate, have finally heard enough. Even a party that nominated a candidate manifestly unfit for any office, much less president of the United States, has to put country first at some point, right?
Not so much, laments Paul Krugman.
In his Friday column, he argues that it's better to think of the GOP not as a party, but as a political apparatus for movement conservatism—a monolith buttressed by a handful of exorbitantly wealthy families. Its governing philosophy is tax cuts for the rich, which it will defend at all cost.
"This structure…rewards, indeed insists on, absolute fealty," Krugman writes. "What this means is that nearly all Republicans in today’s Congress are apparatchiks, political creatures with no higher principle beyond party loyalty."
This explains why Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican leadership refuse to hold a demonstrably unstable president to account, and likely won't unless he proves a political liability in 2018 and beyond. These scandals could rage on for months or even years if the Democrats don't prevail in the Georgia and Montana House elections. But even if Trump is removed from office, Krugman reasons, "the threat to the Republic will be far from over."
"In a perverse way, we should count ourselves lucky that Trump is as terrible as he is," he observes, ominously. "The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we’d be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control. Trump may have done himself in; but it can still happen here."
Read Paul Krugman's column at the New York Times.
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