Is that all there is? Not quite.
Against the advice of many of his advisors, Donald Trump authorized the release of a Republican-penned congressional memo about the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in 2016 presidential election.
The memo isn’t the “smoking gun” proving the FBI was biased against Trump that pro-Trump talking heads like Fox News’s Sean Hannity have promised. In fact, it seems to do the opposite—pointing out that a member of Trump’s campaign staff triggered the investigation, not the disputed “Golden Showers” memo. The president sees it differently, of course.
This makes it all the more tempting to dismiss the memo’s release as yet another strange attention-grabbing moment in Trump’s unorthodox presidency, one that we’ll all forget about when the next bizarre situation crops up.
Don’t do it.
The memo drama is the latest evidence that the US could be tumbling toward a constitutional crisis, a political situation that the institutions of government and the country’s founding documents are not up to the task of solving.
For the country and its people, the system that apportions specific powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches stands as a guarantee of the rule of law and a bulwark against authoritarian rule. When the intended balance is disturbed by one branch failing to follow the law or even long-standing standard protocol, the very idea of a representative democracy is threatened.
The current situation can be read as the US president choosing to favor the interests of the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin over those of American citizens. Already, the White House has refused to impose the latest Russian sanctions passed by Congress, while critics can say the memo seems to indicate that some Republican members of Congress are willing to forgo their sworn duty to protect the US from foreign interference, to shield Trump. (The president does have some discretion in enacting the sanctions. As Vox noted, “The president may waive sanctions if he determines that it is in the United States’ national security interests to do so.”)
Here is a worst-case scenario short list for the US. It’s a dark forecast, of how time-tested governmental practices could begin to unravel in America—if the worst is yet to come.
Read more at Quartz.