It doesn’t take a legal expert to know that what’s happening in Portland, Oregon is an abuse of power. When unidentified federal forces dressed as soldiers pull people off the streets into unmarked vans, something is gravely wrong. What’s less apparent is that this abuse is part of an ongoing effort by the administration to get around “posse comitatus”: the principle that the president cannot use the military as a domestic police force. The implications for the rule of law — and potentially for the 2020 election — are staggering.
It has taken America’s 45th president almost four self-serving and destructive years to reach this point, but in pulling the trigger on withdrawing troops from Germany, one-third of the total stationed in the country, he has signaled an end to what Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s 32nd president, conceived as a post-World War II order based on common interest and collective aspirations.
“The recovery has been very strong,” Donald Trump said on Monday. Then the commerce department reported the US economy contracted between April and June at the fastest pace in nearly three-quarters of a century, which is as long as economists have been keeping track. The drop wiped out five years of economic growth.
But pesky facts have never stopped Trump. Having lied for five months about the coronavirus, he’s now filling social media and the airwaves with untruths about the economy so he can dupe his way to election day.
Four months later, with the American death toll north of 150,000, a report from Vanity Fair details the callous political motivations behind the Trump administration’s early failure to roll out a national pandemic response. As with many recent policy calamities, it begins with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.
After Trump replaced the White House pandemic response team with an assortment of unqualified private interests — including the president’s son-in-law’s college roommate — Kushner’s bunch reportedly developed an underwhelming proposal: “The plan would have set up a system of national oversight and coordination to surge supplies, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks.”