Many people who lack moral and intellectual anchors believe that everyone else, deep down, is like them, though not nearly as smart. In their mythic world view, every value is negotiable and every decision is animated by reflexive self-interest, not principled reasoning.
In reality the world is full of people unlike Donald Trump, though that fact eludes him. His failure to recognize it leads him into error and self-inflicted peril, and because he currently is the U.S. president, that flaw puts all of us and our system of government in peril.
Some of the millions of people who are unlike Trump happen to be in government service. They tend to have orderly minds; they keep careful notes; they usually reflect before speaking or writing; they favor process over chaos and fact over fiction. They believe that rules and customs arise out of successful experiences and should not be brushed aside by expediency. They are real.
Thus when Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released last week his report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email-security investigation in 2016, Trump attributed to the report some things far removed from reality.
If you have not read at least the Executive Summary of the report, stop here and go read it. At only 20 pages, it’s an accurate synopsis of the 500-plus page investigative report. Once you read it, the gap between the Donald Trumps and the rest of us will become clear and Trump’s weekend lies and misdirections will be fully exposed.
Even for reluctant reader Trump, Horowitz’s report is direct, unambiguous and tough. It is sharply critical of fired FBI director James Comey’s two public declarations about the investigation into Secretary of State Clinton’s often-casual handling of official emails. Comey, the report declares, was insubordinate for not following normal FBI and Justice Department processes and exercised very poor judgment.
The report specifically finds, however, that Comey’s actions were neither malign nor politically motivated; rather, they stemmed from his professional — though mistaken — judgment of what was best for the bureau and the nation.
The report also indicated that five FBI employees — two of them identified — inappropriately used official email and other communication channels to express political opposition to Trump. No evidence was found to suggest that their private opinions impinged on the decision-making part of the investigation. Quite the opposite: transcripts of FBI decision-making meetings show that none of the five played a major role.
Most important, Horowitz’s report makes no connection between the email investigation and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russian meddling in the presidential election. Trump’s instantaneous declaration that the Horowitz report “totally discredited” the Mueller investigation and somehow exonerated Trump of any collusion with the Russians is nonsense at best and, at worst, frighteningly delusional if Trump actually believes that to be so.
Trump needs very much to rid himself of the Mueller drag on his autocratic ambitions. If to do that he must create an alternate reality in which every word and deed by every person is attributable to political malevolence and all dissent is traitorous, he will take all of us down with him.
Only a Congress consisting of people not like Trump can head that off.
Davis Merritt, Wichita journalist and author, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.