'A dictator in the making': Trump biographer slams the president's poor grasp of the Constitution

David Cay Johnston, a journalist and biographer of President Donald Trump, argued Tuesday night that the White House's latest efforts to defy Congress show the president's authoritarian impulses.


In particular, the Trump administration's decision to put off Congress's request for the president's taxes, which the law says the Treasury Department must honor, reveals his intent to skirt lawmakers' oversight capacity.

"What they're doing right now, Chris, is being very careful not to violate that law," Johnston said Tuesday night on CNN with Chris Cuomo. "Charles Rettig, the IRS commissioner, who's a tax lawyer, sent a letter saying they referred this to the Justice Department. Of course, the IRS has its own legal shop. It's called the chief counsel. But all they're doing is trying to avoid directly violating the law which would subject them to the risk of criminal prosecution and prison."

He continued: "They can play this game for a while. ... The Trump administration is clearly saying on every front: 'We are not subject to oversight by Congress.' They actually argue in a legal paper that Congress's oversight function is only limited to writing new laws, which is ridiculous."

"That is ridiculous!" said Cuomo.

"And what you're seeing is a dictator in the making," said Johnston. "This is just brazen 'we're not going to comply.' And you know, as Tony Schwartz, who wrote for Donald 'The Art of the Deal,' and I and some others have been saying for a long time, Donald doesn't know what's in the Constitution. He thinks he's a dictator."

Watch the clip below:

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