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Republican senators, it’s not too late to help save your country

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Republican senators, you know he is a danger to the republic.

It is not too late to say so. It is not too late to help save your country, and maybe your self-respect.

You know it is wrong for a president to be spreading vile fictions about the death of a young woman 19 years ago. You know it is corrosive when he lies, and lies, and lies. And you know it is contemptible when a president, with his nation on edge as civil unrest spreads, can do nothing but threaten, divide and incite.

How do I know you know? Because nothing in your careers, before the age of Donald Trump, hints at a willingness to tolerate such odious behavior.

Yes, I’m talking to you, Lamar Alexander. And you, John Barrasso. And Roy Blunt. Richard Burr. Susan Collins. Mike Crapo. Joni Ernst. Cory Gardner. Chuck Grassley. Mike Lee. Lisa Murkowski. Rob Portman. Jim Risch. Pat Roberts. Marco Rubio. Ben Sasse. Tim Scott. Dan Sullivan. John Thune. Roger Wicker.

And others in your caucus, too. Even you, Lindsey Graham. Even for you, it’s not too late.

Five years ago, could any of you have imagined excusing a leader who praised white supremacists, called his former opponent a criminal and a “skank,” mocked the weight and appearance of your fellow leaders?

Could you have imagined tolerating a president who sought to bend law enforcement, diplomacy and intelligence collection to his personal needs and whims?

You know, you all know, that he has imperiled the country and cost thousands of lives with his contempt for science and expertise.

Many of you have championed funding for the National Institutes of Health. Could you have imagined, five years ago, biting your tongue when a president told a country in peril that a virus would “magically” disappear? Would you have endorsed dangerous nostrums or mocked sound public health advice?

You know that he has eroded what turns out to be the surprisingly fragile system of checks and balances laid out in the Constitution that you have sworn to support and defend. Five years ago, you would not have tolerated a president spending money that Congress — your Article I branch — had explicitly decided not to spend, or shrugging off any attempt at congressional oversight, or firing inspectors general at will.

You know that he has dangerously eroded the United States’ security and standing in the world with his impulsiveness, his contempt for allies, his trashing of core American values and his naive embrace of America’s foes.

How do I know you know? Because many of you have spent your careers defending those values, building the institutions that undergird them, cultivating relationships across oceans. You shuddered when he trusted Russia’s leader over our own intelligence community, when he hailed the boss of the Chinese Communist Party as “a good man” and “a very, very good friend,” when he “fell in love” with the criminal strongman of Communist North Korea. Before the age of Trump, you could not have imagined staying silent in the face of such abominations.

So why do you stay silent now? Why does your colleague Mitt Romney seem so lonely in maintaining his moral compass?

It’s not hard to guess. You see your former colleagues Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, cast into political irrelevance for raising the most timid of objections. You think, better to stay viable. Keep your head down, don’t provoke the bully, and you can help restore sanity when he is gone.

But if he is reelected, restoring sanity may not be an option. The republic will be forever altered, as you know.

And you know this, too: Joe Biden would be a better choice for the country, at this moment. Of course, you disagree with many of his policies. You dislike some of the people he would bring into government. But he would respect the Constitution, the rule of law, simple human decency and the norms that have kept this experiment alive.

So why not hang together, announce you are voting for Biden, and help save your country? Explain that the president has left you no other honorable choice. You can still campaign for a Republican majority in the Senate to act as a check on a Democratic administration and its judicial picks. At best, you might help save your party and rescue your country.

At worst, you would meet the fate of Corker and Flake. That may seem unbearable to you. But if Trump is reelected, history will remember them far more kindly than those who, silently or actively, were complicit in the degradation of our democracy.

May 31, 2020 at 4:39 p.m. EDT




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Trump’s lie about Bowser was exposed as soon as it left his mouth

May 31, 2020 at 5:06 p.m. EDT

Why in the world would President Trump, in the midst of the unrest roiling our nation’s capital, tweet a demonstrable lie about the city’s mayor, Muriel E. Bowser, and the D.C. police? Praising the U.S. Secret Service for their handling of protests at the White House, Trump tweeted that Bowser “wouldn’t let the D.C. Police get involved,” quoted an unnamed person as saying it’s “Not their job,” and ended the tweet with a sarcastic “Nice!”

Whether Trump’s unnamed person exists is unknown. What is clear, however, is that Trump’s accusation against Bowser and the police force was indisputably false. In fact, Trump’s lie was exposed the moment it left his mouth.

Led by D.C. police Chief Peter Newsham, and with Bowser’s knowledge and consent, the city’s police had already joined with the Secret Service and other federal law enforcement authorities to deal with White House and public demonstrations — as have D.C. mayors and police chiefs in the past.

In a news conference with Bower, Newsham said he provided Secret Service officers with equipment they did not have, including riot helmets. “Wouldn’t let the D.C. Police get involved” Trump declared. The Secret Service issued a statement that said, “The Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police were on the scene.”

Why would Trump tell such a baldfaced lie?

Perhaps, I should be the last person to ask that question, having devoted a recent column to his record of intentional dishonesty and deceit.

Yet to see, at this immediate and incendiary moment, the president intentionally telling a story as he wants it to be (or maybe believed), and not as it is — all without any regard for the consequences — is not only annoying; it should be alarming.

What world is he in? In the same four-part tweet, Trump said if the protesters had breached the White House fence, they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.” Dogs and weapons have long been part of the Secret Service’s arsenal. Who is Trump trying to scare or buck up — himself, perhaps?

Trump fantasized: “That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least. Many Secret Service agents just waiting for action.” He again quoted an unnamed person: “We put the young ones on the front line, sir, they love it … good practice.”

In the book “Donald Trump and His Assault On Truth,” The Post’s Fact Checker staff observed that, when Trump inserts the word ‘sir’ in a story, “it’s often a sign that he’s telling a fairy tale.” The authors said their Fact Checker database has almost 100 claims involving a story in which some hapless soul calls Trump “sir,” which plays up his superiority.

In her Twitter rebuttal to Trump, Bowser depicts herself as standing with people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights, characterizing Trump as hiding “behind his fence afraid/alone.” Bowser said, “There are no vicious dogs & ominous weapons. There is just a scared man.”

She’s right. Trump’s behavior isn’t just unpresidential. It’s bizarre. And we shouldn’t try to act otherwise.

What can you say about a person who persistently tells lies that are blatant and easily shown to be untrue? What about a president who — in the middle of angry protests and a pandemic burning across the nation — finds time to cast himself as a victim and pick a fight with a mayor who has done nothing to him? And doing it with a lie?

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This is the consequence of Trump’s reign of rage

June 1, 2020 at 8:21 p.m. EDT

Donald Trump said it best himself. Sitting down four years ago at Washington’s Trump International Hotel with The Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, the TV personality reflected on the distress his presidential candidacy fomented.

“I bring rage out,” he said. “I always have.”

Today, 50 months later, America is burning. These are the wages of Trump’s hate-filled incumbency.

In his inaugural address, he vowed an end to “American carnage.” In his acceptance speech, he promised a fast end to the “violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities.”

This dark view of the country was largely a fabrication, a political device. Four years later, Trump has made real the apocalyptic vision of America he imagined then.

There, unfolding on live television Monday night, was a dystopian horror. Federal authorities attacked peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas, flash-bangs and rubber bullets, as Trump, with Orwellian gall, stood in the Rose Garden proclaiming himself “an ally of all peaceful protesters.” Trump threatened to mobilize federal troops against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without permission from governors — an act associated with totalitarian countries — then walked across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church where he held aloft a Bible. Peaceful protesters had been gassed and forcibly dispersed so Trump could have a photo op.

This disgusting scene was long in the making. He ignored an approaching pandemic, turning a crisis into a catastrophe in the United States and worsening the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, with more than 40 million out of work and upward of 100,000 dead. Meanwhile, his constant tearing at the fabric of civil society, his dismantling of the institutions that bind us, and his glorifying of racism and violence have ultimately set America ablaze.

The finger-pointing has begun to assign blame for the violence accompanying protests against police brutality. Antifa and anarchists? White supremacists? Opportunistic hooligans? The answer, likely, is all of the above — and all must be condemned. But they are only the proximate cause of the violence. Don’t for a moment doubt the source: Trump has made America hate again.

Trump isn’t the one who killed George Floyd by pressing a knee to his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Police brutality against African Americans — and racism generally — has plagued us for centuries. But Trump uniquely fueled fury, with his constant bigotry, his dismantling of police reforms, his encouragement of police aggression and his violent speech.

Hate crimes in the United States are 30 percent higher than before Trump’s reign of rage. We’ve seen a Trump supporter send pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and media outlets. We’ve seen Republican members of Congress shot playing baseball. We’ve seen the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, the killing in Charlottesville and many more atrocities. Now we see masses pouring into the streets to vent their anger — most peacefully, some violently.

Yet the president continues to stir violence. On Friday, he revived a phrase with a racist history: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” On Saturday, he boasted about “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” awaiting protesters. On Monday, he urged governors to use more force to “dominate” demonstrators.

Shortly before that, he celebrated the “good people” who held an armed protest in the Michigan capitol. He urged gun-rights supporters to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!; LIBERATE MINNESOTA!; LIBERATE VIRGINIA.”

There have been four years of this. He has spoken of shooting unarmed migrants at the border. He has shared violent videos on Twitter. He praised a congressman for assaulting a journalist, and often induced crowds to menace the “enemy” journalists in the room. He told supporters to “knock the crap” and “knock the hell” out of protesters, fantasized about punching one, and offered to pay legal defenses of those who did.

These violent sentiments have disproportionately been directed at nonwhites, most famously when Trump said there were “very fine people” marching among the white supremacists in Charlottesville. He told four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He denounced “s---hole countries” in Africa and elsewhere, said Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” attacked black NFL players, hosted and retweeted bigots, dehumanized Muslims and Mexicans, and much more — back to his embrace of the birther movement and his demonization of the Central Park Five.

Trump’s racist rhetoric combines with his violent rhetoric in his encouragement of police aggression. He urged police “please, don’t be too nice” when throwing “thugs” into “the back of a paddy wagon,” and he suggested not “protecting their head.” He said laws were “totally made to protect the criminal, not the officers” — and his administration put such ideas into practice. It rescinded post-Ferguson reforms that kept surplus military weapons from going to local police with inadequate training. And it disparaged the Justice Department’s decades-old practice of investigating and remediating police misconduct.

At the time, police and civil rights groups alike criticized the administration; the NAACP said Trump was “encouraging police officers to disregard the safety of individuals in their custody.”

In Minneapolis last week, we saw the consequences of such disregard. And in the angry and sometimes violent demonstrations that followed, we see the consequences of a presidency that brings out the rage.


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