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Trump’s Normalizing of Corruption and Lawlessness Continues at the Border

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“Chief Law Enforcement Officer” Trump Waives Contracting Laws for Cronies Building the Wall 

Yesterday, after issuing pardons and clemency to a host of white collar criminals, President Trump declared himself to be the “chief law enforcement officer of the country.” As the Washington Post summarized, the self-description capped a day in which “Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.”

Yesterday also delivered the news that Trump’s border wall obsession had led DHS to waive federal contracting laws in order to speed wall construction – just the latest reminder that crony capitalism is inextricable from the border wall. He has installed his son-in-law as the lead on wall construction and has already steered a $400 million contract awarded to the pro-Trump and pro-Fox News Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. Now contracting laws that are barriers between tax-payers and waste, fraud and abuse are being waived.

The below is a statement from Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice  in response to these examples and their larger implications:

The intersection of crony capitalism and creeping authoritarianism continues. The self-proclaimed ‘chief law enforcement officer’ Donald Trump continues his normalization of corruption and lawlessness, this time at the border.

An emboldened, vindictive, and authoritarian President Trump is a dangerous combination. Every day brings fresh reminders that show his intention to erode our democratic principles and institutions and fashion himself into a Putinesque strongman. Lawlessness in service of an oligarchy is being normalized by the sheer barrage of new examples and the refusal of Republicans to break ranks and speak out. 

None of this is normal or okay in a functional democracy. Trump is not the law.

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In a new essay in The Atlantic titled “The First Days of the Trump Regime,” Adam Serwer writes “…the democratic institutions that authoritarian nations retain are largely vestigial or have little power to check the executive, either because they are under regime control, or because they are cowed or co-opted into submission.”

Slate legal writer Mark Joseph Stern writes, “The border wall is a testament to the president’s ability to sidestep Congress with the help of a pliant Supreme Court. If the southern border is, in fact, lawless, that is because Trump has eliminated the law there.”