The Trump Department of Justice has tracked what appears to be a national security leak investigation aimed at cracking down on tens of thousands of CNN reporters’ emails, as well as phone records, since 2017.
These recent reports are another reminder of the strenuous exercise of the presidency under Trump. Although it would have been easy to dismiss his four-year term as determined by Twitter outcry and atrocities, this period has witnessed the aggressive use of presidential power, sometimes in secret, and in a way that threatens our weak civilization.
The Justice Department’s follow-up article tracks many other well-documented cases of abuse of power between 2017 and 2021.
During Donald Trump’s first indictment, the world saw the former president’s willingness to use foreign aid as a push to defile political rivals. President Trump has repeatedly used his Twitter harassment to target institutions such as the media and specific political opponents who have caused trouble for him, even eventually inciting terrorist groups to attack Congress and try to prevent a democratically elected transition.
How did all this happen? The former president is the product of two long-term trends that came together during his tenure. The first is the continued expansion of the presidency. During the 20th century, the power, staff and authorities that adopted the presidency expanded.
During the Cold War and later in the “war on terror”, the proliferation of national security equipment sent residents of the Oval Office unprecedented to run without parliamentary oversight. Even the rise of persecution in the 20th century implies that the president, through his words, can affect public opinion in a dramatic way.
The second trend is the triumph of speech divisions within the GOP, creating the spirit of the highest level of leadership that is now allowed to do what is necessary to maintain power. This is a model that began with Congressman Newt Gingrich in the 1980s, focused on the Tea Party in 2010 and ended with President Trump. It provides for segregation beyond the needs of the governing or health of political institutions. There is no need for elected officials to balance all three responsibilities, for this reason: every step and procedure can be armed when needed.
For example, if the president wants his branch office to investigate members of another branch, for example, so be it. As exciting as this story of capturing notes from journalists and members of Congress’s story may be, it flows from a dynamic foundation set up under President Trump.
So far it seems that President Joe Biden, as far as we know, is trying to step back in the form of his presidency. He wants more Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, who understand and respect the need to operate within the scope, even if the act has a certain political cost.
But the larger forces in the workplace in this regard remain at a good level. The power of the president has reached a level that is not good for the nation. It is too easy for that power to be abused. In an era of intense political conflict, parliamentary follow-up will not be possible. Former President Trump’s careless secession remains a driving force for the GOP – as evident when Senator Mitch McConnell decided to assassinate the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol.
And if Trump decides to run again in 2024, voters should understand that this is the kind of power they will have under the law for another four years. He may be anti-establishment and he may be a politician who speaks his mind, but he is also a president who can be a Nixonian scare.
Too much presidential power is a dangerous thing. We have learned about this many times over the decades. As with the previous example, the question remains – what will American voters do about this, insist their representatives that the Commander-in-Chief should be held accountable, or are they just waiting for another abuse of power?