By now, it should be clear to President Donald Trump that there is a limit to what he can get away with.
As one US president said some decades ago, “The buck stops here.”
Harry S Truman was right. He had to be answerable not only for his own actions as POTUS, but he was also answerable for anything and everything his Cabinet secretaries did in their official capacities.
Indeed, where the suspicious meetings his most senior advisers held with Russians before and after last year’s elections are concerned, it has become increasingly clear that Mr. Trump knew about the private sessions, and gave them his imprimatur.
The admission by former National Security advisor Michael Flynn that he met with the former Russian ambassador to the US before Mr. Trump officially assumed office was an illegal act, since he was still a private citizen at the time. That meeting was held at the behest of Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who himself had earlier denied than admitted that he met with the Russians during the campaign period.
It is too much of a stretch to believe that the then president-elect had no knowledge of that meeting. His words and actions before and after that meeting indicate that Mr. Trump was fully aware of what Flynn had done.
Mr. Trump may not say that as chief executive, he is no micro manager and that the small details are best left for his Cabinet to decide. He may, instead, use the same argument that Richard Nixon did in the aftermath of the Watergate break in and subsequent scandal. “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” Mr. Nixon said then, and Mr. Trump appears to believe that wholeheartedly.
One analyst said it best. With the revelations of the last few days, the Trump presidency had entered “a Watergate moment.”
The most serious misstep he can commit now would be to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the way then president Nixon fired then special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Such a move will not delay the inevitable, but may actually speed up the process if impeachment is in Mr. Trump’s cards.
But clearly, some of those tweets he spewed out in the past are beginning to haunt him. This week, what may end up as the worst of Mr. Trump’s tweets, the one that indicates that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI regarding the meeting held with the Russian ambassador, has put him in legal trouble. It shows that the president was aware of what his national security adviser had done, which is why he had to tell then FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Flynn.
That is a clear case of obstruction of justice.
The odds of his being impeached or forced to resign as president have just increased tenfold in the last few days. While it still remains to be seen if Mr. Trump can weather this, the worst political storm of his presidency, the odds are not in his favor.