By Robert Mann
Watching the president’s swearing-in every four years has always seemed like a civic duty. I have tuned into the broadcasts of 10 inaugurations since 1968. And I’ve attended two others (George H.W. Bush in 1989 and Barack Obama in 2013).
This time, however, it was my moral duty to ignore Donald Trump’s swearing-in. It’s a small act of defiance, but I could not take part in normalizing this abnormal presidency. I could not pretend his swearing-in was anything but a travesty.
I agree with what Eliot A. Cohen, a respected conservative authority on national defense, wrote the other day, “The beginning of wisdom will be to treat his office with respect, but him with none, because it will achieve nothing, and because as a human being he deserves none.”
Trump may legally be the president. He is not legitimate. I’m not arguing that he had no right to take office. Instead, I rely on one widely accepted definition of the word “legitimate” (“in accordance with recognized or accepted patterns and standards”) to assert that Trump is an illegitimate president.
Why? I could cite, for starters, GOP voter suppression efforts in several key states, Trump’s admission of sexual assault, his refusal to release his income taxes and his massive financial conflicts of interest. Much of that makes him ethically bankrupt, if not morally illegitimate.
But one set of facts is more than sufficient to explain Trump’s illegitimacy: His election resulted from what the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency (and many Republican leaders) consider a brazen, multi-pronged attack on American democracy by Russian President Vladimir Putin. And, they’ve concluded, Putin hacked our election in an attempt to help Trump.
Trump’s associates may or may not have coordinated with Putin. (The FBI and five other federal agencies are reportedly investigating this and other allegations of collusion.) But they were clearly accessories after the fact.
Trump and his staff — several of them with ties to Russia and Putin — knew the intelligence agencies suspected the Russians of hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair. And they celebrated and trumpeted every salacious, ill-gotten detail released by Russia’s online handmaiden, Wikileaks. Trump even encouraged the Russians to hack Clinton’s personal email account.
Whatever the reasons — and I hope the FBI and congressional investigators will uncover them — Trump is deeply indebted to Putin. And it shows. Since his election, he has criticized or attacked President Obama, Clinton, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. John Lewis, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” Meryl Streep and the cast of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”
He has not whispered an uncharitable word about Putin or Russia.
Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.