LETTER TO THE EDITOR: What have we learned (or confirmed) about Donald J. Trump?

Donald Trump has been president for a little over 130 days now, but it seems like two years; in fact, I believe that we should count the length of his presidency in dog years. Surely, one full year will seem like seven from any other president!

So, what do we know now about our 45th president? Are there any surprises? Nothing about him surprises me, except for the fact that he is even worse than I thought he would be.

The most important thing we have now learned is that our nation’s greatest security risk works at the desk in the Oval Office. His blurting out of top secret information to Russians – Russians! – damaged our intelligence-gathering operations against ISIS, our most worrisome threat, and confirmed the fact that the President of the United States cannot be trusted with sensitive information. His son-in-law’s effort to set up a secret channel of communication with the Russians six weeks before his inauguration, and then, trying to keep that meeting a secret, looks extremely suspicious, occurring less than a month after the election in which Russian hacks and misinformation helped Mr. Trump win. If that weren’t enough to illustrate this point, consider that the president waited 18 days after acting Attorney General Yates warned the White House counsel that Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied about his call to the Russian ambassador and was thus a security risk.

Why wasn’t the president so enraged and distressed about this that he didn’t fire Mr. Flynn on the spot, but waited until the situation was made public in the press?

Didn’t he even care that his national security advisor had lied about this crucial matter? Or did he know about it all along?

Another thing that is now crystal clear is that even though Mr. Trump swore an oath on Inauguration Day to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution of the United States, he actually knows virtually nothing about it. He obviously does not understand that, in our system of checks and balances, we have an independent judiciary and a semi-independent FBI. When his travel ban was blocked in court, he referred to a “so-called judge,” and when James Comey would not pledge personal loyalty to him, he fired him.

His travel ban order was, as every court has agreed, a violation of our First Amendment protection of freedom of religion, and his attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” sound more like something Josef Stalin or Joseph Goebbels would say. His labeling CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times as “fake news,” while being a devoted fan of nut cases like Alex Jones of InfoWars, who believes that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax, is beyond irresponsibility; it is frightening.

It also goes without saying that, in not really divesting himself from his family business and allowing his sons and other family members to cash in on his presidency, he has, since January 20, been violating the emoluments clause of Article I of the Constitution, which is supposed to prevent a president or any other public official from profiting from foreign states. Indeed, it could be argued that after only 130 days, this is already the most corrupt presidential administration in American history. He still refuses to release his tax returns, despite the real questions about his financial ties and susceptibility to blackmail or extortion by his lenders.

Speaking of American history, the president demonstrates almost daily that he knows nothing about it. Anyone who thinks that Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave and died in 1895, is alive and working today, or that President Andrew Jackson, who died in 1845 and, more to the point, was one of the largest slave-owners in the country, could have somehow prevented the Civil War, proves his appalling ignorance. He also clearly has no knowledge that “obstruction of justice” was the key charge levied against Richard Nixon in the impeachment hearings in 1974, when Trump was very much alive.

You can call me old-fashioned, but I believe that if you seek to lead a country, you should have at least a basic knowledge of how its government works and its history. Donald Trump clearly has neither.

The most appalling fact about Mr. Trump is that he is, at heart, an autocrat who would like to run the country like he ran his business, and the only people he admires are other autocrats. Somebody recently observed that he is the most autocratic leader we have seen since King George III, and I believe that is no exaggeration. On his recent trip, he was clearly most comfortable and friendly with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who leads probably the most repressive monarchy in the world, and whom he refused to lecture about anything, while he was visibly uncomfortable with the democratically elected leaders in Europe, whom he lectured and insulted throughout his visit.

The only world leaders he has expressed admiration for are Erdogan of Turkey, who is rapidly stripping the last vestiges of democracy in that country; Duterte of the Philippines, who is a deranged killer; and, of course, Vladimir Putin of Russia. We have truly come full circle in 70 years when the chancellor of Germany can be depended upon to stand up for democracy and human rights, but the president of the United States can’t.

As to his policies thus far, he is on record in favor of a bill that would take health insurance from at least 20 million people, thus literally causing many of his fellow citizens to die unnecessarily; a huge tax cut for wealthy people that would be a true bonanza for him and his fellow plutocrats, several of whom are in his cabinet; and a budget that would make the rich even richer while cutting food stamps by over $190 billion, reducing funds for the opioid epidemic, medical research, environmental protection, national parks and heating assistance for low-income people (entirely eliminated), and gutting every other program that might benefit ordinary and working Americans, many of whom, of course, voted for him.

In addition, he is anxious, along with his party in Congress, to emasculate the Dodd-Frank Act and free the big banks from what are termed “excessive regulations,” thus turning the banks loose and making a financial collapse like 2008 much more likely – indeed, almost inevitable.

As I wrote last year, Donald Trump is a pathological liar who doesn’t seem to understand the basic concept of truth or facts, because he just makes things up as he goes along, and sometimes seems totally delusional.

His obsession with the crowd size at his inaugural (and his insistence on how it was “the largest in history,” even though photographs proved otherwise) was just the beginning; his false charge of being wiretapped by President Obama, and his (at first) phony story about why he fired James Comey, are other cases in point. His tweets continue to illustrate that he has the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old child, not to mention the speaking vocabulary of a kindergartner; it seems that “fantastic,” “amazing,” and “terrible” are the only adjectives he knows.

He now has access to the nuclear codes and is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. To paraphrase Ms. Monahan, may God HELP the United States!

Daniel Pritchett
Dover

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