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Donald Trump, Congress, and the Constitution 

Depressing things I've read in the past week:
  • Reports, by Bob Woodward and Anonymous Op-ed, confirming that Donald Trump's behavior is as troubling as we've heard;
  • News indicating that the Republicans in Congress and many voters don't care.
The importance of what Anonymous wrote has been overshadowed a bit by a debate over whether Anonymous is a coward because he or she prefers to remain Anonymous. Should Anonymous have resigned and then gone public? I don't know; at least we know that a few people in the White House are trying to resist, on occasion. That's more than what we're seeing happen among the Republicans in Congress.

The more important thing is that Anonymous and Woodward have added to the evidence: The country is led by a volatile, immature man who either doesn't understand the basic principles of the government he heads or doesn't care about them and doesn't intend to uphold them.

And at the moment, there's not much anybody can do about it. Democrats can posture all they like, but Donald Trump will serve out his term. Some members of his administration may be trying to undermine him, but if they tried to remove him using the process spelled out in the Constitution's 25th Amendment, two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate would have to approve. If the House impeached him, two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to remove him. That won't happen.

Even if the Democrats take back both the House and the Senate, it's not likely to be by that big a margin. And Republicans in Congress have made it clear: Some of them may think he's not fit to serve, but most of them are happy with his record.

The odds are, then, that Donald Trump will be president at least through 2020. The salvation: the November 6 Congressional election.

This is just a terrible, terrible time. Voters can dismiss people like Woodward and Anonymous, but it's hard to do that with members of the federal intelligence community, who have been writing their own op-eds and signing statements expressing their concerns about President Trump. They, too, have been criticized.

But in a sobering Washington Post op-ed over the weekend, former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin explained their actions. "For many of us," McLaughlin wrote, "keeping our mouths shut about what we see in our own country would be akin to not alerting our government to a threat from abroad."

"Failure to warn," McLaughlin wrote, "is the ultimate sin in the intelligence world. It feels equally sinful in the world of citizenship."

People in the intelligence communities have studied countries where democracy and the rule of law "don't exist or are under attack," McLaughlin said. "So our senses are finely tuned to the classic warning signs: attacks on institutions, neutralization of opponents, cowed legislatures, publics numbed by repeated falsehoods."

"All of these are now visible here to various degrees," McLaughlin said. "While others may say our democracy can't erode that way, we know we've heard that before, somewhere else. The stakes are too high for complacency here."

The stakes are apparently not too high for the Republicans in Congress, at least not yet. Congress can't change the president's behavior, but it can help mitigate the results of it. The country will likely have to wait until the end of Donald Trump's first term to get a new president. It doesn't have to wait until then to get a new Congress.

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