from New York Magazine. Jonathan Chait is a big reason to read the magazine.

Trump is trapped, and trying to protect himself at all costs

by Jonathan Chait

On November 7, President Trump woke up to a world in which Democrats had smashed through a gerrymandered map to win three dozen House seats, depriving him of both his legislative majority and his effective immunity from congressional oversight and accountability. He responded in the most Trumpian way: with an atavistic display of brute dominance. He insisted the election had been a triumph (“I thought it was a very close to complete victory”), belittled Republicans who had lost for declining his “embrace,” pulled the press pass from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, and warned Democrats not to investigate anything in his administration or he would refuse to work with them and have Senate Republicans investigate them back.

And he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose sole offense, in Trump’s eyes, was recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Trump maintains the attorney general’s job is to protect the president’s political interests, even if the president or his allies have committed serious crimes. In an interview with the New York Times last year, Trump explicated this belief. Barack Obama, according to Trump, had engaged in all manner of wrongdoing (as any Fox News addict could tell you), but Attorney General Eric Holder shielded him from investigation. Trump held up this imagined cover-up as admirable. “Holder protected the president,” he said. “And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.”

Trump finally acted on this vision, skipping the normal chain of command and declaring Matthew Whitaker the acting attorney general. As recently as three years ago, Whitaker worked for a scam company that catered to customers with invention ideas and “provided almost no service in return,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. Whitaker’s role was to testify to the company’s integrity (“World Patent Marketing goes beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate [sic] those words into action”) and serve as legal muscle, firing off threatening letters to customers who complained they had been bilked.