Trump's inner mob boss emerges with alarming new threats to politicians and the press
One of the most prominent and disturbing elements of Donald Trump's character (or lack thereof) is his tendency to embrace the language and behavior of mafia dons. He regards himself as an infallible and unchallengeable force who demands total obedience and blind loyalty. This weekend Trump displayed that mob boss fixation on several occasions.
The recording of him telling Lev Parnas to "take out" U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich was chilling to hear. Trump gave orders to Parnas, a shady figure with ties to Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian politicos, to "Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it."
Trump's apologists in Congress and on Fox News dismiss this as being within the President's power to fire an ambassador. That's true, but then either he fires her or he instructs his Secretary of State to do so. Parnas has no government role or authority to terminate the employment of an American diplomat. So what did Trump mean and why would he assign this mission to such a fringe player who is currently under felony indictment?
Similarly, Trump threatened the whistleblower who reported Trump's extortion of Ukrainian President Zelensky, as well as the whistleblower's White House source[s]. Trump alleged that they could be considered spies and warned "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now." That's an overt death threat aimed at someone who legally protected from such retaliation.
On Sunday morning Trump also aimed a threat at House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, saying that he "is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet..." Here Trump is baselessly alleging that Schiff is both "corrupt" and "sick," two traits that are more recognizable in Trump himself. And what "price" does Trump have in mind that he's implying Schiff will soon be paying?
This is typical behavior from Trump. And it manifested again in another Sunday tweet wherein he implied his interest in sabotaging National Public Radio (NPR) by eliminating their federal funding. This attack was triggered by an NPR reporter's interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo a couple of perfectly fair questions about Ukraine that he wanted to avoid. He became angry and erupted in a profanity laced outburst which she reported.
This led to Fox News host Mark Levin tweeting his disapproval of Kelly and asking "Why does NPR still exist," and "Why are we paying for this big-government, Democrat Party propaganda operation?" Trump replied that it was "A very good question," setting the stage for potential budget cuts to the public radio broadcaster.
A very good question! https://t.co/8z6uQLKz8M— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1580048185.0
First of all, NPR is not a "big-government, Democrat Party propaganda operation." In fact, it receives very little federal funding. According to its latest financial report, just one percent of its annual operating budget consists of public monies. By far, most of its funding comes from corporate sponsorships, dues paid by member stations, and listener donations. The greater harm would come to radio stations that air NPR programming, most of which serve rural communities in what Trump would call his base.
What's more, it's simply ignorant to accuse NPR of being politically slanted to the left. If anything the opposite is true. After all, the board of its governing agency, the U.S. Global Media Agency (USGMA), is headed by Kenneth Weinstein, a Trump appointee. Also on the board ... Mike Pompeo. That's right. The Secretary of State is an ex officio member of the board of directors of the USGMA. And this is what Trump and Levin believe is a "Democrat Party propaganda operation." It must be another department within the "Deep State" that is staffed by Trump loyalists.
Trump's foul and menacing behavior is notable not only for its similarity to that of a mob boss. It represents an imminent danger to innocent people in politics and the press. Past episodes of this rhetoric has resulted in actual bomb threats and other attempted violence. And the scary part is that that is precisely what Trump wants. He is a bully who believes that he can get his way through threats and intimidation. It actually fits the legal definition of terrorism.
If he isn't stopped he will only get worse. That's why his impeachment is so urgent. Even if he were to be defeated at the ballot box in November, that would give him 77 days to exact revenge on those he deemed to have betrayed him. That's a risk that American can't afford.