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Donald Trump Jonathan Chait Election Democratic Image Credit: New York magazine
Donald Trump Jonathan Chait Election Democratic Image Credit: New York magazine

The National Interest: Jonathan Chait

Trump, Trapped A weakened president takes another step to protect himself at all costs.

Jonathan Chait

On November 7, President Trump woke up to a world in which Democrats had smashed through a gerrymandered map to win three dozen House seats, depriving him of both his legislative majority and his effective immunity from congressional oversight and accountability. He responded in the most Trumpian way: with an atavistic display of brute dominance. He insisted the election had been a triumph (“I thought it was a very close to complete victory”), belittled Republicans who had lost for declining his “embrace,” pulled the press pass from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, and warned Democrats not to investigate anything in his administration or he would refuse to work with them and have Senate Republicans investigate them back.

And he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose sole offense, in Trump’s eyes, was recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Trump maintains the attorney general’s job is to protect the president’s political interests, even if the president or his allies have committed serious crimes. In an interview with the New York Times last year, Trump explicated this belief. Barack Obama, according to Trump, had engaged in all manner of wrongdoing (as any Fox News addict could tell you), but Attorney General Eric Holder shielded him from investigation. Trump held up this imagined cover-up as admirable. “Holder protected the president,” he said. “And I have great respect for that, I’ll b


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