Every week it looks like we’re headed closer and closer to a constitutional crisis. Darth Tweeter and a whole helluva lot of his associates are in a wee spot of trouble over that whole Russia thing.
Rumors have it that the Tanning Bed Emperor will strike back by either preemptively pardoning everyone; pardoning himself; firing Muller, the independent investigator; pushing Sessions to resign so he can appoint someone who can and will fire Muller; and so on.
All right, but what is a constitutional crisis in the first place?
A constitutional crisis, in one sense, is a showdown between the different branches of the government where the way things have been done in the past won’t save us from a current mess. We could see this kind of constitutional crisis in case of an impending impeachment vote, where Congress would be pitted against a disgraced President. Our mentally-ill president could in response, say, try to deploy troops (or the Boy Scouts of America) to defend himself.
A constitutional crisis can also come about from someone in the government wilfully violating established or unspoken constitutional norms. We could see this kind of constitutional crisis go down if Muller tries to bring criminal charges against the President. People have long assumed that the president cannot be criminally indicted under the Constitution, but no one knows for sure, and there are some who argue that you can bring criminal charges against the President. The Supreme Court would certainly have to step in and pick a side.
Have we lived through constitutional crises before?
The United States has gone through plenty of constitutional crises before. Remember the Civil War? Watergate? How about the Nullification Crisis of 1832? (Yeah, me neither).
The most relevant of these, of course, is Watergate. Watergate took just shy of two years to fully come to a head and then resolve with the resignation of President Nixon. So, six months into a Trump presidency, there’s plenty of time for everything to get more unpleasant.
Trump and his advisors will surely have learned a thing or two from the way Nixon handled his own crisis. Or maybe not. The President is well known for his unpredictable nature and his inability to take advice. So we could be in for another Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon fired four DOJ executives before he found someone who would fire the Watergate independent investigator. For now, Trump is being more patient.
But do we have enough popcorn to get us through this?
One thing’s for sure. This is all very entertaining. So far, Trump has been about as effective at dealing with his Russia scandal as a stormtrooper at a shooting gallery. Before we’re through, Supreme Court nerds will probably have a major decision to pour over and Trump might bring down his business empire by inviting a close look at his business ties.
So kick back and enjoy. At least until we have to get out the pitchforks (selfie sticks?) and march on Washington.