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An Authoritarian Unleashed

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Not surprisingly, Senate Republicans making it clear that their stance towards Republican presidents abusing their office with one exception ran the spectrum from “we mildly disapprove but what are you gonna do” to “strong affirmative approval,” his banana republic actions have only accelerated:

President Trump is testing the rule of law one week after his acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, seeking to bend the executive branch into an instrument for his personal and political vendetta against perceived enemies.

And Trump — simmering with rage, fixated on exacting revenge against those he feels betrayed him and insulated by a compliant Republican Party — is increasingly comfortable doing so to the point of feeling untouchable, according to the president’s advisers and allies.

In the span of 48 hours this week, the president has sought to protect his friends and punish his foes, even at the risk of compromising the Justice Department’s independence and integrity — a stance that his defenders see as entirely justified.

Trump complained publicly about federal prosecutors’ recommended prison sentence for one of his longtime friends and political advisers, Roger Stone. After senior Justice Department officials then overruled prosecutors to lighten Stone’s recommended sentence, the president congratulated Attorney General William P. Barr for “taking charge” with an extraordinary intervention.

Next Trump sought to intimidate the federal judge in the Stone case, badgering her on Twitter for previous rulings, and attacked the four prosecutors who resigned from the case in apparent protest of the Justice Department’s intervention. Then Trump floated the possibility of a presidential pardon for Stone, who was convicted by a jury in November of tampering with a witness and lying to Congress.

The president has openly encouraged his Justice Department to retaliate against a quartet of former FBI officials who long have been targets of his ire for their involvement in the Russia probe.

What would happen with a second term is something I’d prefer not to think about, but we’d damned well better.

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