Ari Melber, host of MSNBC's "The Beat" explained Monday night that Donald Trump's use of an "enemies list" is a throwback to past authoritarian leaders. We need to keep an eye on this. It is clear that we, the public, are being bombarded by nearly hourly breaking news and so it is easy to get "news fatigue", leading to us ignoring when something that would be alarming from any other leader in more normal times just gets pushed aside when the next big story breaks an hour later. But this news from last week, about how Trump wanted the DOJ to actually prosecute his enemies and his opponent is something that should never be brushed aside.
Watch to understand the full magnitude of the situation and why we must never accept this behavior as normal from any leader, even Donald Trump. What the New York Times exposed, says Melber, is an act more serious and criminal than what got Mueller appointed in the first place.
Partial rough transcript below:
Firing the FBI director to change a probe can be an element of a crime of obstruction. That is very big. Think about where we are tonight, because it is new. Trying to get the FBI director jailed to change a probe is impeachable, all on its own. It is very, very, very big. That's what the New York Times has exposed, a single act that is more serious and criminal than the whole thing that got Mueller appointed in the first place.
Let me repeat that, because we all have understandably some bombshell story fatigue these days. This story exposes an act by President Trump that is more serious and more criminal than the whole thing that got Mueller appointed in the first place.
Are we going to be a government of laws? That was the question, because Nixon tried to abuse the DOJ and turn those powers against his enemies that ultimately backfired. If an entire Special Counsel probe was ignited because it appeared President Trump was simply trying to change the outcome of the Comey investigation by firing him, imagine the fuller ramifications of this report with President Trump using the legal system to prosecute Comey and Clinton.↓ Story continues below ↓
And this is not just something that we have foreign examples for, as I mentioned. President Trump has systematically targeted Andy McCabe, and got him ousted from the DOJ, cutting off his pension days before it was supposed to kick in, and then now getting an open criminal probe in D.C. Into McCabe. We don't know what's happening inside there, where it leads.
But if the attempted pressure to silence Comey and McCabe, yes, it obviously does send a message to everyone else working with them behind the scenes. President Trump doesn't just talk trash, he is doing these things.
He talks about the media, but he's also trying to come after them in the same way. This hasn't gotten enough attention, but when he came into office, he asked the FBI to investigate and jail journalists. Something we only learned about later after he fired the FBI director and it came out in, oops, those Comey memos.
That same playbook is now being used against Comey himself, and apparently against his deputy McCabe, and yes, against Hillary Clinton. Some civil servants will continue to push back against this and tell him no, tell the president no, that's what the McGahn leaks did, although President Trump has discussed the matter of trying to get Comey and Clinton jailed according to that same New York Times report.
It is not enough tonight to take solace that some of these barriers will automatically continue to hold or to wax poetically about how we have a strong system and it can't happen here. Remember, that very phrase isn't supposed to be taken literally. It was Sinclair Lewis' famous warning about how a populist demagogue could win an election on nationalism, and then turn the U.S. toward authoritarianism. Anything can happen anywhere.
And just because President Trump attempted this and was thwarted does not mean this is anywhere near over. The White House lawyer who stopped President Trump from the plot is gone from the White House. Don McGahn turned Bob Mueller witness.
While some of the walls may close in on some of the people, there isn't any evidence in this reporting that President Trump is going to change who he is on these issues. He told us who he was during the campaign, running on jailing Hillary Clinton, and now, through this reporting, he's told us again who he is in office.