It's All Happening Very Fast Now

Since even before Donald Trump was elected, I was warning that he was a dangerous authoritarian who would subvert our democracy given the opportunity — warnings that were greeted with accusations of hyperbole, pessimism, the abandonment of hope, alarmism, and mental illness.

But there can be no doubt, to anyone who is paying the slightest bit of attention, that Trump is indeed a dangerous authoritarian who is undermining our democratic institutions, systems, and norms as quickly as he can; showing undiluted contempt for the rule of law; and consolidating power, with the help of his irredeemably corrupt party.

Just since last Thursday:
  • The Democrats on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter [pdf] to Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan reporting that they have "obtained extremely disturbing new documents from a whistleblower indicating that high-level officials at the White House and State Department worked with a network of conservative activists to conduct a 'cleaning' of employees they believed were not sufficiently 'supportive' of [Donald] Trump's agenda." This sort of ideological purging of career bureaucrats is certainly unethical and may be illegal.

  • The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued an alert based on the joint analytic efforts of the DHS and the FBI, which details information "on Russian government actions targeting U.S. Government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors. ...DHS and FBI characterize this activity as a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who targeted small commercial facilities' networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks. After obtaining access, the Russian government cyber actors conducted network reconnaissance, moved laterally, and collected information pertaining to Industrial Control Systems (ICS)." A hostile intrusion to which the White House has made no response.

  • Special Counsel Bob Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization "for records related to his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election." Mueller, whose subpoena was delivered to the Trump Organization "in recent weeks," is reportedly seeking documents related to Russia, "bringing the special counsel's office closer to the president's financial dealings — an area he previously described as a 'red line' that Mueller should not cross."

  • Trump nearly fired National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, hours after he proposed "serious political and economic consequences" for Russian aggression, including "atrocities" in Syria and the "abhorrent nerve agent attack" on Sergei Skripal — and in the same week Trump fired Rex Tillerson a day after saying Russia should face consequences over poisoning in UK. Instead, Trump backed off but is keeping McMaster "in a state of perpetual limbo about his future in the administration, aware that his unpredictable boss could keep him around indefinitely or terminate him at a moment's notice."

  • Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti said during an interview on Morning Joe that his client has been "physically threatened." He also said that "'six separate women with similar claims to my client' have approached him, two of whom have NDAs. He and the firm are still investigating their claims."

  • Trump pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe one day before McCabe was set to retire anyway, thus robbing him of his pension. The justification for firing McCabe was a Justice Department review which had supposedly found "McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions," but in a blunt statement, McCabe said he was fired for testifying honestly to Congress about James Comey's firing, on which he, like Comey, has contemporaneous notes.

  • Trump called the firing of McCabe "a great day for Democracy."

  • Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, said on the record "that he hopes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will shut down special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's election interference."

  • Trump tweeted that Mueller's investigation never should have existed in the first place: "The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!"

  • Trump sources announce he will continue to attack Mueller: "Multiple aides and Trump confidants tell The Daily Beast that they believe this will not be the last time the president goes after the Justice Department special counsel on his frenetic Twitter feed. ...The president, those close to him say, is determined to more directly confront the federal probe into his campaign's potential role in alleged Russian election interference, even if it means exacerbating his legal standing amid an investigation that has already ensnared some of his most senior campaign and White House aides."
All of this is very concerning, to put it mildly. And yet there is still a shocking lack of urgency among the nation's powerbrokers to even correctly identify what is happening, no less take the necessary steps to stop it.

The Republican Party is intransigent in its refusal to take legislative steps to protect Mueller's investigation, and the political press is intransigent in its refusal to communicate honestly with the public about the seriousness of what that means, especially within the context of Trump purging anyone from his administration who refuses to abet his deference to Russia.

The situation is dire. And I am not exactly sure where things are going to go from here, but I know with absolute certainty that we cannot be a populace adequately prepared to resist it if we can't even straightforwardly identify the stakes.

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