Donald Trump is trampling on the Constitution on a daily basis. But Congressional Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell are enabling his abuses — and endangering the country.
Donald Trump has plunged the nation headlong into a constitutional crisis by firing FBI Director James Comey as the bureau investigates his own collusion with Russia. It is one of Trump's most brazen abuses of power so far, intensifying calls for his impeachment.
Trump is the most unqualified president of our time, and certainly one of the most dangerous. He lacks any real understanding of his Constitutional powers or basic political issues. He is corrupt, unethical and easily manipulated by foreign states who mean harm to America. He bases his worldview on the last person he talked to or the last thing he saw on TV.
And yet it is crucial to remember that Trump is not the only reason the edifice of American government is cracking. Much of the blame lies on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The men who gathered at Philadelphia in 1787 to write our Constitution fully anticipated the risk that someone like Trump could one day take power. They prepared for it. They built a series of checks into our Constitution to enforce limits on the President and, should the worst happen, remove him from office.
What the founding fathers did not expect was a House and Senate so toxic and corrupt that they are willing to waive every constitutional check they have on the president in return for partisan goal-scoring.
On Thursday, Trump admitted on national TV that the Russia investigation was "on his mind" as he fired Comey, and proclaimed the investigation "should be over." On Friday morning, he appeared to blackmail the FBI on Twitter. He is barely even bothering to hide what looks like obstruction of justice.
And yet Ryan and McConnell are insisting there is no need even for an independent prosecutor in the Russia investigation, despite the fact that Trump's attorney general blatantly compromised himself and the congressional committee probes have faced a string of ethical conflicts. Instead, they want an investigation into the anonymous whistleblowers leaking information about Trump and his associates.
It is Congress's job to counter abuses of power by the president. Instead, they are covering for him, likely because doing so helps Republicans enact their agenda.
Under Trump, the GOP dismantled Senate rules to take over the Supreme Court. They are ramming through a bill to strip health care from the sick and give massive tax cuts to the rich. They are repealing every Obama-era regulation they can, from Internet privacy to protections for family planning coverage.
Some of these bills do exactly the opposite of what Trump promised on the campaign trail, but it seems not to matter — he signs whatever Ryan and McConnell put on his desk.
Republicans do not want to lose that blank check. At every turn, they have sold out the rule of law to cross legislative goals off their list.
That is what makes Ryan and McConnell so dangerous. If Trump vanished tomorrow, it would not repair the damage Republican congressional leaders have done to our democratic institutions by putting party over country. It is time we focused not just on Trump's impeachable offenses, but also on those in Washington who protect him from consequences and devalue the separation of powers for their own gain.