The Secret Guardian

Ken AshfordGeneral corruption, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The NY Times op-ed by an anonymous member of the Trump administration is historical: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.


Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Ostensibly, this is supposed to be reassuring.  “Don’t worry,” the writer says. “We’ve got this.”

And I suppose that some WILL find it reassuring that there are “adults in the room.”  I don’t.

For one thing, nobody elected them.  This smells like a petit coup d’etat.  I mean, if they are hiding papers from Trump so that he can’t sign them, what else would you call it?

Secondly, just how smart are these adults? Not very, it looks like. If they exist to cool down Trump’s worse excesses, then writing this op-ed in the first place seems counterproductive.  And it’s not like the op-ed conveys new information that we couldn’t get from the Woodward book.

And indeed, Trump has gone pretty crazy.

But here’s where… ugh…. Trump and I agree, and this is my real problem.  This is gutless.

And let me bring in the op-ed author at this point:

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

And there it is.

Basically, this author and the other “guardrails” are willing to allow Trump to stay in office and damage our institutions and ruin our reputations, because he is doing the work of conservatives with lowering taxes, etc.  This is enabling Trump. 

It’s almost like the author, reading the tea leaves and seeing how unkind history will be to Trump and Trumpians, is saying, “Hey, not ME!  I’m one of the good guys!”

Well, he’s not. He’s engaging in anti-democratic moves against an anti-democratic president.  Anyone who thinks that invoking the 25th Amendment would precipitate a constitutional crisis has an odd view of the Constitution (the 25th Amendment is a constitutional REMEDY, not a crisis).  As David Frum writes:

Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is a constitutional mechanism. Mass resignations followed by voluntary testimony to congressional committees are a constitutional mechanism. Overt defiance of presidential authority by the president’s own appointees—now that’s a constitutional crisis.

If the president’s closest advisers believe that he is morally and intellectually unfit for his high office, they have a duty to do their utmost to remove him from it, by the lawful means at hand. That duty may be risky to their careers in government or afterward. But on their first day at work, they swore an oath to defend the Constitution—and there were no “riskiness” exemptions in the text of that oath.


Speak in your own name. Resign in a way that will count. Present the evidence that will justify an invocation of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, or an impeachment, or at the very least, the first necessary step toward either outcome, a Democratic Congress after the November elections.

Your service in government is valuable. Thank you for it. But it is not so indispensable that it can compensate for the continuing tenure of a president you believe to be amoral, untruthful, irrational, antidemocratic, unpatriotic, and dangerous. Previous generations of Americans have sacrificed fortunes, health, and lives to serve the country. You are asked only to tell the truth aloud and with your name attached.

Truth will not only be unkind to Trump, but it will be unkind to his enablers — those in Congress and those in the White House.  Including this anonymous author.

You know what historians call Nazis who worked with Hitler but tried to reign him in sometimes? We call them Nazis.

The internal Trump “resistance” is about subverting democratic accountability, and leaving the public vulnerable to tragedy, so members of the GOP governing class can point to a paper trail in the future when trying to deny complicity with this disaster.