When President Trump tweets crude and vulgar attacks against Mika Brzezinski, he is trying to bully and intimidate a member of the free press in the hope the media will back off its reporting of scandals surrounding his presidency.
When Trump offers crude and false attacks against a former FBI director while that individual is investigating the Putingate scandal and when he tries to paint seeds of doubt against the special counsel who is investigating that same scandal, he is trying to bully and intimidate legal and law enforcement authorities in the hope they will back off investigations and let potential wrongdoers off the hook.
There is a pattern to Trump's behavior, learned at the foot of his former mentor Roy Cohn, who first made his name by attacking the patriotism of good Americans during the days of the discredited demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Trump's pattern of behavior is to attack, insult, berate or try to humiliate those who question him, in an attempt to bully them into submission. In the case of his attacks against the free press, Trump, like many dictators, calls them the enemies of the people, hoping they will be afraid to report real news. He is wrong. They will not be.
In the case of his attacks against those who investigate the crimes of a Russian dictator against American democracy, Trump hopes to bully them into curtailing their investigations. He is wrong. They will not stop.
Trump's attack against Mika Brzezinski follows the pattern of his attack against former FBI Director James Comey. The former attack is crude, sexist and vulgar behavior. The latter attack constitutes highly-probative evidence for a potential case against him of obstruction of justice.
Without any doubt, based on publicly known facts, Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice as it is defined under law and was defined in an article of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives against President Richard Nixon.
There is very little doubt that Trump will grant a preemptive pardon to associates now under investigation by the special counsel. It is also likely that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ultimately seek an indictment of Trump for obstruction of justice. Undoubtedly, Trump will ultimately try to fire both Special Counsel Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Beyond potential obstruction of justice, serious people concerned about American security should ask why there are persistent public reports that the director of the National Security Agency and other administration officials are worried about the complete lack of interest by the president in exposing and punishing Russian cyberwar against America.
There is a clear pattern to Trump's behavior that attempts to obstruct those who investigate the Putingate scandal.
First, he tries to establish a false friendship with them, using soothing words in seeking to influence their investigation. Then, when that fails, Trump asks them for personal loyalty to him above all other legal and patriotic considerations, suggesting they should clear the cloud over his presidency by curtailing their investigation.
Next, when that fails, Trump and his fiercest defenders make aggressive public attacks against them, seeking to sow seeds of doubt about them and escalate his efforts to intimidate and bully them into curtailing their investigation. Finally, when that fails, Trump fires them.
The nationally-respected U.S. Attorney from New York Preet Bharara was first courted and then fired by Trump. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who wisely and courageously tried to warn the White House that the president's national security advisor had lied about Russia and was in danger of being blackmailed by the Russians, was fired by Trump. FBI Director James Comey was first praised and courted by Trump, then criticized and attacked by Trump and then fired by Trump.
Was Trump lying when he hinted he might have taped his conversations with Comey, which was a crude attempt to threaten and intimidate a material witness in a criminal investigation? Or is he lying now when he claims no tapes exist, because such tapes could be decisive evidence in a potential criminal case?
While Russian intelligence is attacking American democracy and American intelligence is trying to find the evidence of their deeds and defend our nation from them, the president first attacks American intelligence by comparing them to Nazi Germany, then demonstrates no interest in learning the facts they find or defending our nation from the Russian crimes they battle to protect our democracy against.
When Trump tweets crude and vulgar words to attack Mika Brzezinski, he soils the presidency with behavior that resembles a juvenile delinquent in urgent need of counseling, not a president who is fit to lead the nation.
When Trump uses similar tactics to insult, pressure, threaten, bully, intimidate and ultimately fire successive leaders of investigations of Russian crimes against America, and when he employs these tactics to bully and threaten material witnesses to these crimes, he is stacking the deck with evidence of obstruction of justice.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.
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