It Can't Happen Here (1935) originally a novel written by Sinclair Lewis. The novel deals with the rise and establishment of a fascist dictatorship in the United States. Doremus Jessup, a liberal Vermont newspaper editor, sees with sorrow and horror the partisanship—not only of many of his friends and neighbors, but even of members of his own family—to the cause of Bezelius Windrip, seen as a veiled portrait of Huey Long. On election to the presidency in (presumably) 1936, Windrip resections the United States into eight provinces, gains control of both Congress and the Supreme Court by sheer force, and effectively overcomes all resistance by means of the Minute Men, his personal storm troopers. With members of an underground organization established by Walt Trowbridge, Windrip's opponent in the election, Jessup sets out to overcome the dictator's power. He is discovered and sent to a concentration camp, but eventually escapes to join Trowbridge in Canada. By the end of the novel, however, his own family has completely disintegrated. The novel was dramatized by Sinclair Lewis and John C. Moffit in 1936, for production by the Federal Theater Project.
As fascism spread globally in the 1930s, the U.S. responded with a series of radio programs informing the public about American democracy. Jill Lepore, author of These Truths, talks to Steve Inskeep. http://www.wbur.org/npr/646968847/the-attack-on-democracy-in-the-19...
On why Trump wanted to pull troops out of the Korean Peninsula
[Trump] is obsessed with the money. At a National Security Council meeting earlier this year, Jan. 19, this whole question comes up about money and the president says ... these are verbatim from a note taker there: "What do we get by maintaining a massive military presence in the North Korean Peninsula? What do we get from protecting Taiwan, say?"
And this is when [Gen.] Mattis finally says, "We're doing this in order to prevent World War III." Then the president says, "We're losing so much money and trade with South Korea and China and others. I think we could be so rich if we weren't stupid. We're being played as suckers, especially NATO."
On Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly publicly denying having said things they are quoted as saying in Woodward's book.
Look, Mattis has to survive. He's in a difficult position. But, as I've said, nothing's off the record, and in the first days, after parts of the book came out last week, one key person in office now called me up and said, "Everyone knows what you've written is true. It's 1,000 percent correct." Because that's somebody who knows that I worked hard on this and tried to dig in and excavate what the reality was.
Look, they have First Amendment rights also. And they're in a position, and ... they should say whatever they want to say. I have no objection to that, even if it's a kind of politically calculated survival denial. ...
I am convinced that people need to wake up and not kind of pretend this is just politics or this is partisan. What's going on in the Trump administration — and I said this to the president when I called last month — I said, "We are at a pivot point in history."
On why he interviews people for his book on "deep background," as opposed to on or off the record
I knew that people in office in these sensitive positions were not going to talk on the record. ... You let people talk on the record, and you get things that are not true. If you use deep background, you're going to use [the information] but not say where it came from. You then are in that position to verify it with others and get a level of truth that's not available on the record, unfortunately. ...
There's a lot of conscience and courage in this — people speaking up. And, yes, they're protecting themselves but, my God, who doesn't try to protect themselves? But they were willing to help me in this process. And I think it illuminates what's going on, and not in some kind of abstract way.
On how the Russia investigation has affected President Trump
The day after [special counsel Robert] Mueller was appointed, so it would be May 18 of last year, the president was in the Oval Office and normally he would sit at the Resolute Desk. But he was on his feet and then running to the television in the dining room, watching all the cable news shows, TiVo-ing them so he could go back and look, and was beside himself. ...
Rob Porter, the staff secretary, said this was almost Nixonian. It entered the paranoid zone — Nixon, in his final days, pounding the carpet, talking to the pictures on the wall. And Trump just would not come down from that moment, and announced [to anyone listening] that he was the president of the United States: He could fire anyone. He could do anything. And it was very disconcerting to people who witnessed this.
He realized then — he was right — that once you have a special counsel with this unlimited authority, essentially unlimited time, going after you, they're going to look under every rock. And that's exactly what Mueller has done and indicted Paul Manafort, indicted people at all kinds of levels, or got guilty pleas and so forth. It is what, in the FBI, they call the "full field." ... People are kidding themselves if they think it hasn't taken a dramatic emotional toll on the president.
Sam Briger and Mooj Zadie produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Seth Kelley and Carol Ritchie adapted it for the Web. https://www.npr.org/2018/09/11/646315485/bob-woodward-people-need-t...
I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
The Times is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here. [Update: Our answers to some of those questions are published here.]
President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.
It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.
The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
I would know. I am one of them.
To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.
But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.
That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.
The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.
Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.
In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.
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.
But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.
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.
The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.
It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.
The result is a two-track presidency.
Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.
Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.
On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.
This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.
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. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.
The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.
Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.
We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.
There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.
The writer is a senior official in the Trump administration.
The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed Wednesday afternoon from a senior official in the Trump administration who claims to be working with others to thwart the president's agenda. We dig in.
Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent. (@kwelkernbc)
Eliana Johnson, White House reporter for Politico. (@elianayjohnson)
On why this op-ed is different from all of the other op-eds in the New York Times of the same sentiment
Kristen Welker: "Why is it so significant in addition to the fact that it comes in the form of an op-ed? Because it's coming on the heels of that remarkable blockbuster book, the excerpts of which we saw this week — by Bob Woodward, 'Fear,' of course, veteran journalist of Watergate fame, and it echoes something that Bob Woodward really honed in on which is that there are some administrations officials here who are, for example, swiping papers off of the president's desk. He cites Gary Cohn, former top aide Rob Porter as having engaged in that type of activity to prevent the president from signing onto some policies that they deemed dangerous. So it sort of echoes that broader picture that we saw come to life in Bob Woodward's book. And remember the president has talked about this 'deep state,' his concerns about that. Well look the author takes that on head-on, he says 'this isn't a deep state,' but again really tried to put the focus on, we're trying to protect the country from a president who he describes as unpredictable and at times a threat to the very country that he's governing."
On why this is unprecedented
Eliana Johnson: "There's a history of presidential aides sort of protecting presidents from their worst instincts — it happened in the Nixon administration, and it happened in other administrations. But that occurred to me with Bob Woodward talking about former economic advisor Gary Cohn swiping papers off the President's desk. These are people, as Kristen mentioned and as Sarah Huckabee Sanders mentioned, who were not elected trying to thwart the actions of the president who was duly elected. And it occurred to me that if the president wants to do his will and the aides around him believe otherwise, it seems to me that the president should be able to behave in the way he wants to behave and the solution for some disastrous result of that constitutionally would be impeachment."
On whether or not this spells constitutional crisis
Heather Cox Richardson: "Well, we are in a constitutional crisis for sure, and one of the things that astonishes me about the discussions we're having now is the fact that the people who are in positions of power are ignoring their primary oath, which is to the Constitution. Our Constitution is our body of laws on which our entire society is supposed to operate. And there are mechanisms in place for getting rid of any kind of a leader who is not able to refer his or her duties.
"I'm with the people who think that quiet resistance by unconstitutional means constitutes a soft coup. That, in fact, if they believe the president is not able to fulfill his duties they should be invoking the 25th amendment, which is a mechanism that Eisenhower first came up with, although it's passed later to get rid of a president who is incapacitated and doesn't realize he or she is. They could either invoke that, or the other great part of our current constitutional crisis is that Congress is refusing to do its duty, which is that it's supposed to impeach somebody who can't do the job that he or she is supposed to be doing. And both of those things are not happening, which is deeply problematic. And I'd also like to add another piece here, that we haven't discussed, and that's that while this is going on — this profound crisis, this unprecedented crisis in American history — we also have the fact that the Senate is pushing forward with the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice for Brett Kavanaugh. And that strikes me as part of a package and one that we should be looking at as a whole, as opposed to simply looking at the crisis in the moment in the White House. I think we're looking at a crisis of democracy."
On why invoking the 25th Amendment is not the proper course of action
Brian Kalt: "I think, as the op-ed writer said, it wouldn't work. It would make things worse. The 25th Amendment, section four in particular, it was designed to make sure that if the president was incapacitated there was someone who could pick up the reins immediately. And they wanted to make sure it wasn't used for presidents who were unfit or who were inept or any of those other things. We already have a process to get rid of presidents who are doing a bad job. This was supposed to not supplant that, so they designed it so that if you tried to use it for that, it wouldn't work."
New York Times: "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" — "President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.
"It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.
"The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
"I would know. I am one of them."
The Atlantic: "This Is a Constitutional Crisis" — "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."
The Weekly Standard: "The Four Men Most Likely to be Behind the New York Times Op-ed" — "It’s only been online for a few hours, but the anonymous New York Times op-ed penned by a 'senior official in the Trump administration' has set off a frenzy of guessing about who is claiming to be one of the people 'working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.'
"The White House was out with a response Wednesday afternoon. 'We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the paper chose to publish this pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed,' reads the statement from press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 'The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States. He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.'
"There are some clues within the 965-word essay of who the 'coward' (or courageous truth-teller, depending on your perspective) really is. There are indications the writer is a movement conservative, including a line that castigates Trump for not sharing conservatives’ affinity for “free minds, free markets, and free people.” There is a noticeable lack of discussion of any issues of constitutionalism, the law, or immigration. The writing is straightforward, unpretentious, and familiar with the conventions of op-eds."
CNN: "13 people who might be the author of The New York Times op-ed" — "On Wednesday afternoon, The New York Times posted an anonymous op-ed titled: 'I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.'
"The piece is remarkable. Identified only as a "senior official in the Trump administration," the piece lays out how the author — as well as other colleagues within the administration — are waging a semi-open campaign to keep the President from doing too much damage to the nation.
"'Many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,' the author writes."
Poynter: "'Anonymous' NYT byline quite rare, often given for reasons of safety" — "On Wednesday, the newspaper's startling 'anonymous' op-ed — which it verified as coming from a senior Trump White House official — caused a firestorm and backed up accounts in Bob Woodward's upcoming book, 'Fear,' about underlings going to extremes to protect America from an impulsive, unbalanced president. The op-ed talked about Trump's ineffective leadership and moves to prevent his 'half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions.' "
Wall Street Journal: "The 25th Amendment? Forget It" — "Interest in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is peaking. Multiple amateur constitutional scholars have advocated its use to remove President Trump from office, as an alternative to impeachment. But Section 4 is a tool for a different job. Its use under today’s circumstances has the potential to tear the country apart.
"Section 4 is not a suitable substitute for impeachment. To be sure, impeachment sets a high bar: a majority in the House, then two-thirds in the Senate to convict and remove an official. Section 4 sounds easier: If the vice president and a majority of the cabinet declare the president 'unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,' the vice president becomes acting president."This program aired on September 6, 2018. http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/09/06/trump-official-new-york-time...
END OF PART ONE