Every day, President Donald Trump or his minions say something stupid, wrong or demonstrably false. Most days, these people threaten to take illegal actions. Some days, they make good on their lawless threats.
And yet, they are still in power. Trump, his family and his sycophants get help from the Russians (willfully or not) to influence our elections; obstruct justice; violate constitutional principles; intimidate witnesses; lie; and ignore Congress. And yet they seem to get away with all of it.
Nobody stops them, not just Republican Party, and not the legal system, which insists on treating him as a “normal” president of the U.S. Presidents aren’t “normal,” of course. Their office is imbued with awesome powers. This president uses those powers in illegal, corrupt ways. Addressing the abnormal use of incredible powers with normal processes is like trying to sop up a flood with a mop.
The clearest casualty of this oxymoronic thinking was Robert Mueller. When confronted with clear evidence that Trump used every tool in his arsenal to try to obstruct justice, Mueller decided that the normal thing to do was: to not charge or recommend charges against the president, and instead submit his report to Trump’s handpicked guard dog masquerading as attorney general. What did Mueller think was going to happen? Justice?
It’s not just Mueller, or former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, or current FBI director Christopher Wray who hide behind “the book” instead of using the book to inflict some blunt-force justice upon this administration. Judges and justices have also insisted that Trump be treated as a normal (yet still presidential) litigant and apply normal standards to his outrageous behavior.
Most courts have been resistant to the idiotic legal claims Trump throws at them. His administration has been unsuccessful in court on a historic scale. His attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was stopped cold. Judges have desperately tried to end his child-separation policy. Despite efforts to stack the courts, the courts have held up pretty well so far.
But, man, are they slow. Trump attacks the rule of law at Twitter speed; courts rebuff him on a preindustrial timescale.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Justice doesn’t move swiftly, but it can when it perceives a unique threat to justice itself. For instance, the Richard Nixon administration sued to halt the publication of the Pentagon Papers on June 14, 1971. The Supreme Court lifted an injunction on June 30. How about the time Nixon tried to ignore a subpoena for his tapes? The subpoena came down in April. The Supreme Court unanimously ordered Nixon to hand them over by the end of July. Nixon resigned and continued to fight for his tapes as a private citizen, where he was afforded all of the delay a normal citizen is entitled to. See, if we treat Trump like a normal criminal president, we can hold him accountable.