The serious threat that Donald Trump and his administration pose to the republic of the United States is even being recognized by the usually fawning media pundit, Joe Scarborough, in his reaction to the shocking statements made by Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller.
Donald Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller appeared on the political talk shows and made a series of disturbingly despotic statements about the administration’s view of executive power, including the appalling declaration that “…our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned.”
The consistency of Miller’s statements across his appearances on various shows makes it extremely clear this message came from the administration itself and was not a one-off instance of overreach by a staff member.
The idea of the president having supreme power that cannot be questioned was so absurd that even Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski called it out as autocratic (a system of government in which one person has absolute power):
FORD: That’s a White House advisor, right?
BRZEZINSKI: Oh my God. That’s not even funny. You can’t even —
SCARBOROUGH: Oh my God. It’s so much worse than I ever thought.
BRZEZINSKI: It’s much worse. It’s much worse.
FORD: One hundred percent correct.
SCARBOROUGH: One hundred percent correct. It is a fact, and you will not deny it, a fact that was actually a lie. And then again, he learned this, I guess, in ‘Autocracy for Young Politicos 101.’
BRZEZINSKI: Okay, you told me not to say it!
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, when he said, what did he say about the power…?
HEILEMANN: ‘The powers of the president are very substantial and they will not be questioned.’
BRZEZINSKI: This guy.
SCARBOROUGH: ‘They will not be questioned.’ That is — they — no no, they are questioned, my young little Miller.
SCARBOROUGH: They will be questioned by the court. It’s called ‘judicial review.’ Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote about it in the Federalist Papers. It was enshrined in Madison’s Constitution. Andrew Jackson, you go into your president’s office, you know, that one? And you look on the walls, and there are all these pictures of Andrew Jackson and books of Andrew — he talked about judicial independence, he talked about the importance of the judiciary. You really need to go back and read the Constitution. And seriously, the White House has got to stop embarrassing themselves —
Given Scarborough’s history of potentially unethical access to Trump, acting as both an advisor and a cheerleader for Trump’s candidacy and his administration, it is significant when even he refers to a Trump surrogate by saying, “He learned this in ‘Autocracy for Young Politicos 101,'” and feels the need to review, on-air, the mechanisms of checks and balances among the three branches of federal government.
Make no mistake: The autocratic and authoritarian designs of the Trump administration are real and urgent. In December, more than 1,200 historians signed a letter appealing to Americans to “prevent tragedy before it’s too late.” And Timothy Snyder, a Yale professor with expertise in authoritarianism and the Holocaust, warned in an interview that we have “at most a year to defend the Republic, perhaps less.”
Keeping in mind the messaging from the Trump administration, read Synder’s words:
The constitution is worth saving, the rule of law is worth saving, democracy is worth saving, but these things can and will be lost if everyone waits around for someone else. If we want encouragement out of the Oval Office, we will not get it. We are not getting encouragement thus far from Republicans. They have good reasons to defend the republic but thus far they are not doing so, with a few exceptions. You want to end on a positive note, I know; but I think things have tightened up very fast, we have at most a year to defend the Republic, perhaps less. What happens in the next few weeks is very important.
Chilling, yes? Yet, there is good news: Trump and his advisors are overtly demonstrating the threat they pose to the separation of powers early in his tenure, leading even previously supportive pundits like Scarborough to become alarmed enough to use accurate descriptions like “autocracy” for the threat, and causing Americans throughout the country to mobilize, contacting their elected representatives to express their concern in unprecedented numbers.
Our Constitution is indeed worth saving, and if Trump’s unprecedented unpopularity is any measure, the majority of Americans know it is endangered under this administration — even Joe Scarborough.