Seven days in March: The Trump administration and the breakdown of American democracy
15 March 2018
The Trump administration has taken a series of actions this week that expose the authoritarian character of the government and the breakdown of democratic forms of rule in the United States.
On Tuesday, Trump summarily fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, announcing that he would be replaced by close Trump supporter and current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson reportedly learned of the change at the same time as the media, when it was announced in a 140-character tweet.
The form of the change in personnel at the highest level of the state is significant. Trump treats his cabinet, and expects them to act, as an assemblage of courtiers, loyal only to him. The Secretary of State is the senior cabinet post, which historically carries with it the greatest prestige, and the occupant of this position is the fourth person in the legal line of succession to the presidency.
Trump chooses ciphers, humiliates them publicly, and then throws them out as if they were pieces of garbage. He thereby demonstrates his contempt not only for individuals, but also the office they occupy.
The same statement on Twitter announced the nomination of Pompeo to succeed Tillerson, the first time that an intelligence official has been elevated to the post of principal foreign representative of the US government. Trump also announced the nomination of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to succeed Pompeo. Haspel is notorious for her role in directing the CIA’s rendition and torture program, including waterboarding at a secret CIA prison in Thailand.
These are only the latest in a week of ominous decisions and actions emanating from the White House:
* The Justice Department filed suit against the state of…