Former chief of staff at the CIA and the Defense Department Jeremy Bash said on Thursday that Donald Trump’s behavior as laid out in the Mueller report reminds him of authoritarian leaders he has met with or been briefed on during his career.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Bash said just because Trump was upset that he was under investigation – or felt that he was under political attack by the intelligence community – doesn’t mean that he had the authority to break the law, or that he was innocent.
Bash said that might be how dictators behave, but the United States isn’t an authoritarian regime. Trump can’t just trample over the rule of law because he feels he’s being attacked.
“That does exonerate the president,” the former CIA and Defense Department chief of staff said. “It does not give him a license to obstruct justice or violate our constitution.”
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) April 18, 2019
Every authoritarian I’ve ever been briefed on from the intelligence perspective, and I’ve even met a few, had a sincere belief that they were under political attack, that their standing in their country was somehow under siege. That does exonerate the president. It does not give him a license to obstruct justice or violate our constitution.
Trump is behaving like a corrupt dictator
For the past two years, Trump has repeatedly expressed anger over the Russia probe through near-daily temper tantrums on social media or in public appearances.
According to the Mueller report, Trump’s private tantrums over Mueller were even worse than those we all saw publicly.
“Oh my God. This is terrible,” Trump said after a special counsel was appointed in 2017 to investigate his campaign’s ties to Russia. “This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
This is the type of frustration Barr referred to on Thursday morning when he again tried to whitewash the Mueller report by claiming it was okay for Trump to obstruct justice over his hurt feelings.
But the bad news for Trump – and for Barr – is that the United States is not the authoritarian regime he wishes it was – at least not yet.
Being angry at those trying to hold you accountable is not a defense for breaking the law – and it only makes you look guilty.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.