New revelations of Trump’s abuse of power are timely reminders of his unfitness

With Donald Trump’s announcement of his new presidential campaign comes a timely reminder of what kind of a man is asking Americans to put him in charge again: Trump’s former chief of staff, John Kelly, now confirms that Trump, while in office, routinely sought to use and abuse the powers of government agencies against perceived enemies in clearly illegal ways.

Among Trump’s demands as president, Kelly says, were that two former FBI leaders he hated should face audits by the Internal Revenue Service.


And lo and behold, both did.

Kelly’s comments, reported by The New York Times, bring new context to previous revelations that former FBI Director James Comey and acting Director Andrew McCabe both faced an especially intense form of personal tax audit under a Trump-appointed IRS director, after what the agency continues to maintain were random selections.

That claim, which sounded statistically unlikely from the start, completely strains credulity now, in light of Kelly’s confirmation that Trump specifically pressed him to launch audits against the two.

“I would say: It’s inappropriate, it’s illegal, it’s against their integrity and the IRS knows what it’s doing and it’s not a good idea,” Kelly said he told Trump.

He quoted Trump as responding, “Yeah, but they’re writing bad things about me.”

Does that or does that not sound like the aspiring autocrat who America got to know so well during his first term?

Kelly said he never carried out Trump’s illegal orders, but that doesn’t mean someone else at the White House didn’t. Add it to the list of potential crimes by Trump that Congress or the Justice Department should be investigating.

Kelly said Trump’s vendettas against Comey and McCabe were part of a broader pattern in which he routinely told underlings he wanted federal criminal investigations or IRS audits against perceived enemies.

These included Hillary Clinton, Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, and FBI agents involved in the agency’s probe of Trump’s Russia ties.

Trump’s strained denials can be summarily dismissed, and not just because his status as a pathological liar has been so thoroughly established.

His behind-the-scenes attempts to abuse his power mesh with his public statements throughout his presidency.

How many times did Trump publicly call for Clinton and other critics to be arrested, or worse?

Consider that, after the Nov. 8 election, Trump was claiming credit for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rise by saying he sent in the Justice Department to meddle in the 2018 state election on behalf of his fellow Republican.

The claim is apparently a lie, but how telling that even in fabricating stories to publicly brag about, Trump concocts one in which he describes himself as illegally abusing his power.

It’s who he always was and still is — and will be again, in spades, if he’s allowed to return to the Oval Office.

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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