April 8, 2019

The man in the Oval Office is a despot.

He orders officials to break the law, and when they don't, he fires them. Even if they are as vile as he is, and as fine with family separation as he seems to be. Even if they lie to Congress for him about his sick obsession with Jeff Sessions' idea to stealing brown toddlers from their parents and making them sleep on gravel floors in brightly lit rooms, where they're awakened every three hours and never allowed to be touched by another human being. He compares them to vermin, calls it an infestation, an invasion. But, poor Kirstjen Nielsen...even after all she did to help Trump carry out these atrocities, she got fired for having seen the writing on the non-existent wall. No, not that it was a deeply inhumane and immoral thing to do, but that they just can't get away with it legally anymore, and it's such a darned PR nightmare!

He wants to close legal ports of entry, no matter how awful it is even for OUR country to do that. He ordered Nielsen and Mike Pompeo in a meeting 2 weeks ago to close legal ports of entry along the border. Nielsen explained in as many ways as she could that it wouldn't stop illegal immigration, and would be hugely problematic for Americans. He said, "I don't care!" And if he couldn't do THAT, can't he just stop people from seeking asylum?

Uh, no, that's also not legal. The laws are written to allow people to seek asylum. He doesn't care! When he was in California last week, he said to Border Patrol Agents we should tell those seeking entry, "The system is full. Can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, illegal immigration, can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full." (The Dakotas and Montana wave hello, Donald. So does Iowa and the rest of rural America.)

Again, he doesn't care about the law. While he was at the border in California, he TOLD BORDER AGENTS TO BREAK THE LAW.

TAPPER: Behind the scenes, according to two witnesses, President Trump told border agents to simply stop letting migrants in. Tell them we don't have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, sorry, judge, I can't do it, we don't have the room. After the president left that room, border agents sought further advice from their leaders who told them they were not going to give them that direction. If they did what the president said, in fact, they would be taking on personal liability. You have to follow the law, the border agents were told.

But in the most vivid example yet of "Hitler is Trump's Idol," we learn that Trump is still obsessed with finding ways to separate parents and children.

TAPPER: Senior administration officials also tell me that in the last four months or so, President Trump has been pushing his administration to enforce a stricter and more widespread family separation policy. Not just the original policy, started by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and undone by the president once it was criticized, that was a policy of prosecuting individuals crossing the border illegally between legal ports of entry, and that instituted a separation of parents from their children. No, according to multiple sources, President Trump wants an expanded version of this policy. He wants families separated even if they come in at a legal port of entry and are legal asylum seekers. The president also want families separated even if they're apprehended within the United States, these senior administration officials tell me. The president wants more of this. He thinks family separation works to deter migrants from coming. Sources tell me that Nielsen has tried to explain to the president, they can't bring this policy back because of various court challenges. HHS Secretary Alex Azar has made it clear to the president that he opposes any policy that causes family separation. And White House staffers, especially in communications, have reportedly tried to explain to the president that this would be an unmitigated PR disaster. A senior administration official tells me, quote, he just wants to separate families. Last night on the second floor of the East Wing of the White House residence in a room called the Yellow Oval, Nielsen, Chief of Staff Mulvaney and President Trump sat down and met. Nielsen tried to present a path forward. Senior administration officials tell me, a path that is legal and in compliance with U.S. Laws, but the president said to her, quote, this isn't working. Nielsen did not disagree. Quote, at the end of the day, a senior administration official tells me, the president refuses to understand that the department of homeland security is constrained by the laws, unquote. But of course, the president may not think that's much of a barrier. The president's made no secret that he's frustrated with the laws, as he made clear in a recent interview on fox news.

TRUMP (on video): There's never been so many people coming up, and that's because they're gaming the system and the system has changed, for the worse, because of what happened with Democrats and what they've done in terms of Congress. So if we change the laws, it would be very easy. But in the meantime, Mexico, if they stop the people from coming in, we won't have a lot of people coming at the border.

As Adam Serwer wrote so brilliantly in The Atlantic, with Trump and his ilk, the cruelty is the point.

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