Midterm voters must stop Trump’s assertion of monarchical power

Midterm voters must stop Trump’s assertion of monarchical power
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After unprecedented claims by President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE of powers reminiscent of foreign dictators and after the reluctance of GOP leaders in Congress to defend democracy against these assertions, the coming midterm elections are the most important in American history.

Something is happening in America that has never happened before. A president of the United States is campaigning for his claim that he is above the law of the United States.


He campaigns against political opponents and leading law enforcement agencies by claiming they should be investigated and prosecuted by agencies he seeks to command at will.


Trump and his attorneys have made assertions of presidential power that are akin to the powers of foreign monarchs and dictators. He makes Richard Nixon look like a civil libertarian by comparison.

They have asserted that the investigation of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE is unconstitutional. They claim that Trump has the power to fire Mueller, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Alabama senator says Trump opposed to Sessions Senate bid Judiciary issues blitz of subpoenas for Kushner, Sessions, Trump associates MORE, Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Judiciary issues blitz of subpoenas for Kushner, Sessions, Trump associates House Judiciary to vote to authorize subpoenas for Trump officials, immigration documents MORE and FBI Director Christopher Wray at will.

They claim Trump has the power to unilaterally close down all investigations of Russian attacks against America and fire every official and agent conducting the investigation.

Trump claims the power to pardon all suspects and defendants in the investigation and cases brought under the investigation. He claims the power to pardon himself of all crimes he might someday be charged with. He issues pardons with the obvious intent of inducing suspects and defendants to not cooperate with the special counsel.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, in one of the most nauseating and legally ignorant assertions ever offered by any attorney for any president, stated that Trump could murder former FBI Director James Comey without fear of indictment.

Trump has pressured the Justice Department to wield the power of the state to initiate investigations of political opponents, including Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton responds to Trump tweets telling Dem lawmakers to 'go back' to their countries The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president MORE. The criminalization of political opposition is one of the time-honored tactics of monarchs and dictators through the ages.

Trump has accused federal agencies investigating the Russian attack against America of being criminals working for what he called a “Criminal Deep State."

This criminalization of American counterintelligence agencies investigating the Russian attack on American elections is not only an assertion of monarchical and dictatorial power. It is also an assertion that actively helps a foreign dictator while he continues to attack our country, by attacking those who investigate his crimes.

Think about this: While intelligence agencies warn that the Russian attack against America is now aimed at our midterm elections, Trump attacks the investigators of this crime while he campaigns for Republicans in the midterms.

I recently wrote that the Justice Department inspector general should condemn these attacks against the rule of law. I also recently wrote that if Trump continues his war against Mueller, he will cause a humongous surge in Democratic turnout in the midterms.

Day after day, step by step, Trump claims powers never before claimed by any president. This is alien to American and democratic traditions, values and laws. Trump is claiming that he is above the law and that as president he can commit any crime without any legal or judicial review. This is how kings rule. This is how dictators act.

Republican leaders in Congress and law professors commenting in the media should unequivocally denounce these radical assertions of presidential power. Leaders of both parties and legal authorities of all persuasions should speak out, loudly, as one, against this.

In American democracy, our system of justice has the final say on the rule of law. Voters have the final say about who governs the nation.

The midterm elections in 2018 are the most important midterms in American history. Midterm voters can end a one-party state in Washington ruled by someone who often praises foreign monarchs and dictators and increasingly acts as they do in their nations. 

Midterm voters can assert the truth that no president is above the law. Midterm voters can demand that their president respects the rule of law. Midterm voters can take America back from a president who claims powers that no president should ever claim.   

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.