The two Johns (Avlon and Harwood) joined Kate Bolduan on CNN this morning to create a trio of blistering critiques of Donald Trump, Bill Barr, and the GOP Senators who are amoral and cynical enough to say Trump has learned his lesson from impeachment. What's for dinner? Heads on pikes sound good...
Bolduan's intro went thusly:
BOLDUAN: President Trump unrestrained, unleashed and unrepentant, on a tear settling scores after his acquittal one week ago in the senate. Since then here's a bit of a reminder of what the president has done. He fired impeachment witness Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, fired Vindman's twin brother who had nothing to do with Ukraine policy or impeachment. He removed Ambassador Gordon Sondland. He vowed revenge, and then in quick succession he has attacked the judge and prosecutors' handling the criminal case of his long-time friend and ally, Roger Stone. All of this in the week since the Senate vote and Senate Republicans saying that they think that Trump had learned his lesson.
Oh, hey, Senators Collins, Thune, and Portman! Howzitgoin? Funny, today, apparently, GOP senators don't seem to be in the mood to talk to reporters about the revenge removals going on right now all over the place, and the protest resignations of those with spines and consciences. Bolduan asked CNN Correspondent John Avlon what this week's takeaways are so far. (Christ, it's only Wednesday.)
AVLON: The president is not remotely restrained. The senators who said that were wishing and hoping, naïve in the extreme, willfully blinded by partisan self-interest. And they'll be too afraid to condemn the president now for something that they would condemn a Democratic president on a dime for doing, even one-quarter of this. This is a president who is angry. He is unhinged and he is unaccountable because his attorney general seems to believe his job is to act as the president's personal attorney. That is a very dangerous circumstance that frankly, the founders and the framers didn't anticipate.
BOLDUAN: Or he's hinged and this is exactly what his hinge is. He knows exactly what he is doing with what he was trying to do here.
AVLON: I wouldn't say control -- self-control is a real hallmark of this president.
When Bolduan asks about outrage fatigue, Avlon responds that of course that has always been part of Trump's strategy, and we need to be discerning and careful not to fall prey to it. This abuse of power is different — yet another new level. Trump/Barr mind meld is "the stuff that really stands out if you use anything resembling historic standards," he insisted.
AVLON: The idea of impartial justice is core to the credibility of the Justice Department. And right, now what Republicans and White House staff are backing themselves into, whether they want to admit it or not, is advancing the Nixon standard, of "If the president does it, it means it isn't illegal." THAT is contrary to all of our best intentions, especially for anyone who had the pretense of calling themself a Constitutional conservative, once.
Bolduan then asked John Harwood to assess if Trump's thirst for revenge over all things impeachment- and Mueller-related has been satisfied, or if we can expect more to come. His answer was chilling.
HARWOOD: I don't think so but you can certainly imagine it doing that. The president certainly not going to be constrained by his moral sense on that because by his words and actions, he has indicated he doesn't have a very active moral sense. He's going to do what he thinks is in his short-term best interests. If that in the future goes to things like punishing people who vote against him on legislation, nobody would be surprised to see it.
Trump "doesn't have a very active moral sense." (You can say that again.) And everyone needs to open their eyes and ears. Our media is telling us that NO ONE WOULD BE SURPRISED if Trump began to punish people who voted against him on legislation! We are watching appeasement in real-time, people. Did it work for other authoritarians? Does it work for the bullies in your life? Do they ever STOP when they feel they've gotten away with what they want?