In a New York Times op-ed, James Comey discusses how Trump subverts leaders such as Attorney General William Barr. Comey asks, “How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?”
This comes as special counsel Robert Mueller released a letter saying that Barr mischaracterized the findings in his report.
He also asks, “how could Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, after the release of Mr. Mueller’s report that detailed Mr. Trump’s determined efforts to obstruct justice, give a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law?”
Comey theorizes that ambitious and unprincipled people cannot resist compromising in order to survive Trump’s presidency. Comey insists, “Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.”
The pattern begins by remaining silent while the president lies, making anyone who doesn’t speak up a co-conspirator. The next step is public acknowledgement of what a great president and leader Trump is. After that, people begin to remain silent when Trump attacks institutions and values that some hold in high esteem.
Comey reasons that many must believe they are acting for the greater good. “In a time of emergency, with the nation led by a deeply unethical person, this will be your contribution, your personal sacrifice for America. You are smarter than Donald Trump, and you are playing a long game for your country, so you can pull it off where lesser leaders have failed and gotten fired by tweet.”
But in order to keep a job in the White House, people have to play the game and praise Trump’s leadership. By then, Comey says, “he has eaten your soul.”
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