Donald Trump tweeted this week that he has "the absolute right" to hand American intelligence over to whomever he wishes. That word "absolute" is seminal to understanding the firestorm he now faces. Jill Abramson writes:
America’s founding fathers were deathly afraid of centralised, absolute power. This is why the government they structured had three equal branches, and plenty of checks and balances. And the first amendment is first for a reason. Freedom of the press is guaranteed because the founders envisaged the press as a bulwark against absolute power. This goes to the heart of who we are, and what we might become.
It's truly bizarre that the president of the United States does not understand this fundamental distribution of power. Trump now faces a Special Counsel and the potential charge of obstruction of justice. But that charge is only the first on a list of potential abuses of power. Abramson catalogues them:
The charge sheet envisaged by many is now a long one. It says Trump violated his oath to protect the country by improperly disclosing highly classified information about impending terror attacks and sharing it with Russia, a country that is hostile to many US policies. It says he trampled on Comey’s due process rights by firing him without cause and providing the public with a false pretext for the termination.
It says Trump flouted anti-nepotism law by appointing his daughter and her husband to White House jobs. The former ethics tsars for presidents Obama and Bush agree that such law applies to the presidency.
It says he trespassed on prohibitions on self-dealing and conflict of interest by continuing to profit from his ties to the Trump Organisation while his sons pursue foreign deals. Furthermore, it says his daughter’s brand has received trademarks from China while the White House is involved in myriad issues involving China. The real estate conglomerate owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is also actively seeking foreign investment, including in China.
Whether or not Trump is eventually found guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours remains to be seen. However, the charges all point to one undeniable fact. Trump suffers from delusions of absolute power.
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