Trump used to celebrate dictators – now he's becoming one

Are we really meant to believe that the man who criticised Comey for going too easy on Clinton is now concerned he went too hard on her? No, the President doesn't need to give the public credible reasons anymore

Skylar Baker-Jordan
Wednesday 10 May 2017 12:32 BST
President Trump fired James Comey, FBI director over his conduct over the Clinton emails
President Trump fired James Comey, FBI director over his conduct over the Clinton emails (Reuters)

When Donald Trump was elected last November, I joked with my friends that if I disappeared they should look for me in an internment camp in the Utah desert. Since taking office in January, my grandmother has become increasingly nervous that, through writing critically about this administration, I would incur the wrath of the vengeful and petulant president.

If this seemed a tad hysterical before, it shouldn’t have; Trump has shown an authoritarian streak since he announced his bid for the White House. But with his sacking of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into ties between his campaign and the Russian government, Donald Trump has taken his biggest step yet towards becoming the first American dictator.

Since taking office, Trump has been sprinting towards his dictatorial destiny. He had undermined the judiciary by threatening to break up the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after “so-called” judges struck down his unconstitutional and immoral ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. He has dispatched his cronies Kellyanne Conway to espouse “alternative facts” and Stephen Miller to warn the country that “the powers of the president… will not be questioned.” He has vilified the press for not toeing his party line. He banned journalists from covering his campaign and later the White House.

Why did Donald Trump fire James Comey?

None of this should be surprising. Trump has a history of praising authoritarian strongmen. During the campaign he praised Saddam Hussein’s strength in killing terrorists, called Vladimir Putin “talented” and an “absolute leader,” described in glowing terms Kim Jong Un’s ruthless elimination of his rivals in North Korea, and openly admired the Chinese government’s “show of strength” over Tiananmen Square.

Attempting to emulate these evil men, he has been accused of inciting violence against protestors at rallies. He threatened to imprison his political opponent. Oh, and let’s not forget that his campaign is currently under investigation by the FBI for colluding with the Russian government to sway the election in his favour.

Trump has now sacked the man leading that investigation, ostensibly because of how unfairly he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails (the same Hillary Clinton he pledged to imprison). This is such an obviously ad hoc reason that it would be laughable if it weren’t so utterly frightening. Are we really meant to believe that the man who criticised Comey for going too easy on Clinton is now concerned he went too hard on her?

It’s insulting that the President wouldn’t, or couldn’t, come up with a credible reason for dismissing the FBI Director, and indicative of a nasty and terrifying tendency. Trump doesn’t think he needs to give a credible reason because he doesn’t think it matters. He’s the President. He’s in charge. His power, as we were told, will not be questioned.

Donald Trump thinks he’s a dictator, and he’s acting like one.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called for a special prosecutor to continue the investigation. This isn’t good enough. At the very least, an independent counsel, reporting not to the Justice Department but directly to Congress, should be created to ensure the American people get the answers they not only deserve, but required so that we know for certain our democracy is sound.

Our last, best line of defence is the checks and balances the framers placed in the constitution to avoid just this scenario. Congress, including the Republicans who control it, must act – as unlikely as it seems, considering the party has placed partisanship over patriotism. If Congress doesn’t act, the country – and history – will judge them guilty as complicit in the death of American democracy.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in