Three times in recent days, Donald Trump reiterated his utter contempt for his bosses, the American people, and for our Constitutional democracy.
I have argued for a long time that if you listen closely you will hear Trump talk in dictatorial terms, and his disregard for anything but his own power was on full display Sunday in a Tweet encouraging the anti-American belief that no one should question his conduct while in office:
Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!
You’ll recall how after Barack Obama was elected, Trump said Obama was not rightfully president, that he had been born in Kenya and remained a closet Muslim, among other fact-free smears.
What upset our thin-skinned deceiver-in-chief on Easter Sunday were more than 100 marches in cities across America, plus at least five foreign cities, by people demanding that the president make public his tax returns.
Though they got under his thin skin, the protests were not aimed at Trump but at Congressional Republicans, and a few Democrats. The message: develop enough political spine to make Trump’s tax returns public or face ouster in the 2018 elections.
So who paid for these rallies? Americans who gave online or dropped money into collection buckets, mostly one- and five-dollar bills, but some twenties, too.
At the San Francisco rally where I spoke along with Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, and Supervisor Jane Kim, I spent hours interviewing people across from City Hall and after the march at the foot of Market Street.
The protesters included a retired police commander and many veterans of the undeclared wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. I met lawyers and retail clerks, bus drivers and retirees, grammar-school teachers and business owners. Some people volunteered that they were Republicans, or did not like Hillary Clinton, and it was clear from where they lived that a number of the protestors were multimillionaires.
Trump inspired the largest protest marches in American history on the day after his inauguration when millions of women and some men marched across the country because of his boasts about sexual assault, part of a lifelong pattern of misogyny.
The tax marches were much smaller, yet they were remarkable for the number of them and the number of people who took part because they were highly focused on a single issue. That so many people showed up in so many places shows that there is no factual basis for Trump’s assertion that only White House reporters care about his broken promise to release his tax returns.
Assembling peaceably to petition our government for a redress of our grievances is a First Amendment right, one Trump respects only when his fans march. The only trouble was in Berkeley, Calif., where a protest the same day not connected with the tax marches appears to have been riddled with agents provocateurs determined to foment violence.
That brings us to Trump’s second un-American action, his latest claim that he is above the law. In court papers responding to a civil suit, Trump now asserts he “is immune from suit because he is President of the United States.”
That’s legal nonsense and while Trump may not know it his lawyers surely do. The Supreme Court ruled on this in cases involving Richard Nixon after he left the White House and Bill Clinton while he was there. In the Nixon case, the high court held that a president is immune from suits only if those involve his officials actions as president.
Trump’s immunity claim was made in one of at least two federal lawsuits by people who, videotape shows, were assaulted by Trump supporters at campaign rallies. Trump in one videotaped incident urged violence and promised to pay the legal bills of anyone who would assault protesters, a promise I hope no one was foolish enough to believe given his history of reneging on monetary promises.
In another case, a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos, Trump also claims to above the law. In that New York state case, Zervos is suing Trump for saying that a dozen women, including her, who said that he had sexually assaulted them were all “liars.” John Dean, who was Nixon’s White House counsel, says Trump seeks to “create a new exception” that would let him duck lawsuits for so long as he remains in office.
The third example of Trump’s contempt for our Constitution and the people it serves is his decision to not make White House visitor logs public, as President Obama did. While every White House has good reason to slip people unnoticed into and out of the White House, Trump promised voters one thing, transparency, and delivered something else, official secrecy.
Trump ran for office promising to be a champion of the people, to “drain the swamp” and to run an honest administration. In his inaugural address he declared, “we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.”
When will the news narrative on Trump shift from the efforts I see pundits making every day to divine Trump policy and doctrine into a recognition that the Trump Administration is all about power, not public service?