The President is arguably correct that he is the country’s “chief law enforcement officer” and that he has the “right” to involve himself in Justice Department matters. However, past presidents — with the possible exception of Richard Nixon — have had the sense to realize that this authority is a sword that cuts both ways. At some point someone of the other party is going to be in the White House again and could very well use the precedents being established now to turn the Justice Department to his or her own very different political ends. Should that happen, what do the Trumpians do?
One approach, of course, would be to pitch a hissy fit and scream “executive overreach” as they did when President Obama used executive orders to defer deportations. A much better approach, however, would be to insure that the question never arises — that no Democrat is ever again elected to the presidency. And that is what the Trumpian party is clearly attempting, through a combination of fear-mongering, census tampering, voter suppression and a little friendly foreign interference. Once the threat of the Democrats ever taking the White House has been eliminated, then we will have totalitarian one-party rule, and won’t that be just fine? At last we will be able to build our walls, stop immigration, pack the courts, protect the wealthy, despoil the environment, increase global warming, ensure everyone unquestioned, unlimited access to high-powered weapons, establish a de facto state church (“evangelical” Protestantism), all without those pesky Democrats being able to do anything about it. The American Experiment will have reached its culmination in exactly the form of authoritarian government it set out to free itself from. And for that we can all give thanks and praise to the invertebrate life form that currently controls the U.S. Senate, which has just given the President carte blanche to amass and exercise all the power he can.
Of course, it may not come to this. In spite of Trumpians’ best efforts, a Democrat might still win the White House in November. A Democrat with some principles and self-restraint might be able to roll back some of the worst of Trumpism. The President’s perversion of the office, of which meddling with the administration of justice is an example, while serious might not prove fatal to our system of government. The Founding Fathers, though, were well aware of human fallibility. The system they put in place strove to diffuse authority, not concentrate it. We ignore that to our great risk, no matter who is in the White House.