The president who has been the most hostile to the First Amendment of any president in history is accelerating his attack on the Constitution. Donald Trump’s latest threats toward his critics should frighten all Americans, not just those unlucky enough to be in his crosshairs at the moment. And he’s doing it for the most flagrantly political reasons.
At the White House press briefing Monday morning (only the third one in July so far), Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a question about Sen. Rand Paul’s request that Trump revoke the security credentials of former CIA director, John Brennan. Paul alleged, without proof, that Brennan was “monetizing his security clearance” and “divulging secrets to the mainstream media.” Sanders replied with a prepared statement that went even further (video below):
“Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the security clearances of Comey, Clapper, Rice, Hayden, and McCabe.”
Note that these all are national security professionals who served at least part of their tenures in the Obama administration. Note also that they have been outspoken critics of the President. There has been no discussion of revoking security clearances for Sean Spicer, Rex Tillerson, or Reince Priebus (if they ever had any). Sanders continued reading her statement:
“The President is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and in some cases security clearance making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia, or being influenced by Russia against the President is extremely inappropriate. And the fact that people with security clearances are making the baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”
No one has politicized and monetized their public service more than Donald Trump. He uses his Twitter account to post brazenly partisan political messages including defenses of his collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice. Furthermore, he posts his robo-endorsements of Republican candidates for Congress. He also promotes his visits to his golf resorts and other properties he owns where he profits from both government expenditures and private reservations from corporations and foreign dignitaries seeking to influence American policies.
The activities of the people Trump is threatening are standard expressions of opinion in the media by experts with the experience to comment intelligently. They are granted the right to have and express their opinions by the Constitution. And by having done so, they have now become the targets of Trump’s infantile and un-American wrath. It should be noted that in no case have any of these people disclosed any confidential information. The assertion that what they have said is “false” is just the unsupported opinion of Trump and his lackeys. But it wouldn’t matter if it is false. There is no prohibition on expressing a false opinion. If there were Fox News would be out of business. And Trump as well, for that matter.
Trump’s rabid aversion to free speech is well established. He repeatedly refers to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” And just this morning he rattled off a couple of tweets castigating the Washington Post for some peculiar and unexplained anti-trust violations. In fact, he’s only attacking them because he perceives them as critics. Which makes the assault an unambiguous breach of the First Amendment.
If Trump follows through on these threats, it would be an obvious attempt to silence his critics. And it would only add to the high crimes and misdemeanors that he is already guilty of, and that warrant his immediate impeachment and removal from office. As if his treasonous collusion with Russia, his obstruction of justice, his financial corruption, and his sexually predatory assaults on women weren’t enough.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.