USA Today Op-Ed: Trump Has Turned The Presidency Into A Dictatorship
President Donald Trump has embarked on a final mission to eliminate what few checks remain on his power, thereby dragging the United States presidency into dictatorship, Kurt Bardella wrote earlier this year in a USA Today op-ed.
Bardella, who is a former spokesperson and senior adviser for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, pointed to Trump’s attacks on a handful of inspectors general — the federal government’s watchdogs tasked with rooting out corruption and wrongdoing.
With Congress no longer functioning as intended, as Republicans have put aside what principles they had in order to placate Trump, inspectors general remain Washington’s last line of defense against a rogue Executive Branch.
But the president has declared war on the inspectors general, Bardella wrote.
It began Friday night, when Trump informed Congress that he was firing MIchael Atkinson, the Intelligence Community’s inspector general. This was nothing more than a vile act of political retribution that had been months in the making. Atkinson fulfilled his legal responsibilities by informing Congress about a whistleblower complaint that exposed Trump’s impeachable crimes. What everyone else recognizes as following the letter of the law, the president views as cause for termination.
The following Monday brought with it Trump’s attack on the inspector general who oversees the Department of Health and Human Services, who Bardella noted “had just released a report revealing the extent to which hospitals were struggling to meet the health care demands associated with treating COVID-19 patients.”
The review involved “interviews from 323 hospitals across 46 states and stood in stark contrast with the rhetoric coming from the president,” but Trump quickly called the report a “Fake Dossier” and labeled it political.
Tuesday came and Trump removed another IG from his post, sending Glenn Fine packing just as he was selected to “oversee the newly created Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a watchdog panel authorized by Congress to conduct oversight of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.”
But Trump was not yet finished, Bardella wrote: “he same day, Trump said he had seven IGs in his sights — prompting Sen. Chris Murphy to announce he would draft a bill to ‘give all Inspectors General protected 7 year terms.’”
All the while, Republicans — who have championed oversight in the past — have remained largely silent, despite former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) previously calling the Obama administration “the most corrupt government in history.”
These moves brought Trump’s authoritarian rule to near completion, particularly considering that the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, appears happy to oblige the president.
For anyone hoping the Supreme Court will assert its role as the third branch of government, it has delayed hearing cases, including three lawsuits involving Trump’s tax returns and financial dealings. And yet, somehow, the Supreme Court managed to reverse a federal judge's order to extend absentee voting by a week in Wisconsin's primary on Tuesday. The result was that voters had to choose between their health and their civic duty.
The court’s refusal to move forward with cases that impact the president, coupled with its willingness to interfere with the Wisconsin election, foreshadows a very dangerous path as we look ahead to the November elections. In essence, the court’s conservative majority is just another political instrument for Trump to wield.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was correct when he said “soul of this nation” is at stake in the upcoming presidential election, Bardella conceded, and “assuming Trump, the Republicans and the Supreme Court let us,” Americans must vote in November to save the country’s soul.