Editorial: Trump’s America is failing state in the eyes of the world

When the president of the United States feels as if he is above the law, and the Republican Congress does nothing to preserve the integrity of those laws, we are a nation in dire trouble.
David Leonhardt, columnist and online opinion editor of the New York Times, wrote Wednesday: “The president of the United States is lying again… The president is lying about firing a top law enforcement official (FBI Director James Comey), and he is almost certainly lying to protect himself and his aides from a full investigation into their own activities.”
Leonhardt continues: “It’s now clear that Trump’s Justice Department has no independence. Both Sessions, and Sessions’s deputy, Rod Rosenstein, are acting like Trump enforcers. And now the F.B.I. is compromised as well. The only way to unwind the constitutional crisis is an independent inquiry, completely free of Trump’s oversight. Several Republican members of Congress expressed concern about Comey’s firing, but words aren’t enough.
“Members of Congress need to give Americans reason to believe the Russia investigation isn’t a charade with a predetermined outcome. They need to make clear that while the president may think he is above the truth, he is not above the law.”
For a different take on the crisis, David J. Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Policy magazine and President and CEO of an international advisory company specializing in global political risk, energy, resource, technology and emerging markets issues, poses an important question in a column in Foreign Policy titled, “Is America a failing state?” In it, Rothkopf provides Americans with a sobering glimpse of how the rest of the world sees Trump and the America we have become, but first Rothkopf’s take on why America is showing signs of a failing state:
“We have the tin-pot leader whose vanity knows no bounds. We have the rapacious family feathering their nests without regard for the law or common decency. We have utter disregard for values at home and abroad, the disdain for democracy, the hunger for constraining a free press, the admiration for thugs and strongmen worldwide.
“We have all the makings of a banana republic. But worse, we are showing the telltale signs of a failing state. Our government has ceased to function. Party politics and gross self-interest has rendered the majority party oblivious to its responsibilities to its constituents and the Constitution of the United States. On a daily basis, Republicans watch their leader violate not only the traditions and standards of the high office he occupies, but through inaction they enable him to personally profit from the presidency, promote policies that benefit his cronies and his class to the detriment of the majority of the American people, and serially attack the principles on which the country was founded — from freedom of religion to the separation of powers.
“Recent events have taken this grim situation and turned it dire. We now know that Donald Trump chose a man as his top national security advisor whom the prior president had both fired and warned him against hiring. We know that Trump’s White House failed to vet this man who would be entrusted with some of America’s most sensitive secrets and decisions. We know they did not get him the security clearance his position required, yet allowed him to operate freely in that position. We know that this man, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, took significant cash payments from an enemy, Russia, and from a nominal ally with which we have precarious relations, Turkey. We know Flynn failed to disclose those payments in violation of the law…
 “Trump has been aware of the controversy surrounding these ties (of his campaign to Russian counterparts) even before the GOP convention last year. He has obviously been aware of the investigations into these ties since his victory. Not only has this apparently not colored his public actions, but, on the contrary, (Trump) has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, support for Moscow’s attack on U.S. democracy, support for policies that would benefit the Russians, and as recently as the past week has espoused a view that the Russians were not behind these attacks — despite the unanimous view of the entire U.S. intelligence community…
“We don’t know what crimes may or may not have been committed — but we do see several patterns of behavior. All are deeply worrisome. Trump has repeatedly shown a reckless disregard for U.S. national security and national interests. He has shown a contempt for the law and for the American legal system. And when challenges to the legality of the behavior of his associates have arisen, Trump has repeatedly acted in ways that appear intended to prevent or impede the ability of those who would seek the truth… We have reached a moment of crisis in the history of American democracy…
“Trump is acting like a desperate man, not to mention a guilty one. That his team, in particular Kellyanne Conway, has gone on television to argue that somehow the Comey firing was okay because Trump is not personally under investigation is the defense of a narcissist who does not understand the responsibilities he has as president. It is lie after lie after deception after misstatement to protect their man. With every syllable they utter, they make him look more guilty.
 “This activity is not lost on the rest of the world. They see an America unlike any they can recall and a leader who is clearly not fit for office. Said one diplomat from a close ally in this hemisphere, “We often have discussions at home as to whether Trump is crazy. We think he is. We have had experience with leaders like this in South America. But I never expected to see it in Washington.” It is a sentiment I have heard in one form or another often in the past few weeks.
“America looks like a country it has never been. Trump is a laughingstock in the best of circumstances, a disgrace based on his known behavior to date, and a threat to global order and security with each action he takes. He discredits the office he holds and the government he leads.
But for every depredation or attack on our system by Trump and his team, for every act of complicity by the invertebrates who lead the GOP on Capitol Hill, there has been some portion of the U.S. government and system to counterbalance it. Judges have stayed bad executive orders. The FBI has investigated — personal career consequences for the investigators be damned.
“The brazen firing of Comey is an escalation. If Trump is allowed to get away with this and appoint a lackey as chief investigator into his team’s alleged wrongdoing, the world will see the United States as a failing state, one that is turning its back on the core ideas on which it was founded — that no individual is above the law and that those in the government, at every level including the president, work for the people.
“Only if an independent prosecutor is appointed will America be seen as being the nation of laws it has long represented itself to be. Only if a thorough investigation takes place that includes an examination of Trump family ties in Russia (and elsewhere) and how these may have compromised the United States will the message be sent that America is the nation that has for so long been seen as an example to the world.
“It will require a bipartisan commitment to truth and justice. Ultimately, and the sooner the better, it will require our system and people to reject Trump and those surrounding him — who have already done so much to disgrace the offices they hold and undermine America’s standing in the world.”
Sadly, only Congressional Republicans have the power to act, and they have put party before country in a pitiful display of cronyism that belies a failing state.

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