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Trump, the GOP, and the autocrat's playbook

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

It's essential to recognize that Trump is faithfully following the autocrat's playbook. He's trying to undermine a lawful inquiry that endangers his hold on power. He has suggested that his opponent in the last election deserves to be jailed. He's inventing stories about dark coverups by his enemies to sow confusion about the proven facts of his own team's skullduggery. And now he is blaming his foes for violence and disorder.

Even more alarming is the extent to which Republicans in Congress and Trump's media allies are falling into line behind their leader's efforts to obstruct and divert. As The Post's Philip Rucker and Robert Costa noted, "Republican lawmakers have mostly split into two camps: those who are wary of weighing in on Mueller's investigation and those who see it as a prime political target."

Notice what's missing here: an unambiguous defense of Mueller's work. Few Republicans have stood up unequivocally on his behalf. And the pro-Trump media, from Fox News to the Wall Street Journal editorial page to the radio talk show hosts, have willingly served as bullhorns for the president's anti-Clinton, anti-Mueller strategy.

What's going on cannot be written off as normal partisanship. The push to discredit and derail Mueller risks becoming an existential threat to our democratic values and republican practices. The interference by a foreign adversary in our electoral process is not a routine event. Resistance to uncovering what happened should not be seen as part of the everyday give-and-take of politics.

Republican patriots have to know that what's at stake matters far more than the quick passage of a tax bill. Don't they?

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E.J. Dionne's email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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