Donald Trump has been consistently inconsistent, especially when it comes to how he judges others versus how he responds to others judging him. That could end up doing great harm to our democracy.
The American people, once again, witnessed the absolute grossness of the president’s character over the weekend via his Twitter account. Although he made many disparaging remarks on Saturday, one tweet especially sticks out: his insistence that members of his administration, who are alleged to have engaged in acts of grotesque abuse against their significant others, were given unfair treatment.
“People’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump wrote on Saturday morning. “There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”
Trump’s tweet was a continuation of a statement he made on Friday regarding the departure of Rob Porter, who left a position as White House staff secretary last week amid allegations from two ex-wives and another ex-girlfriend that he physically and emotionally abused them.
Trump wished his former underling well. “He did a very good job when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career,” Trump said, adding, “He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent.”
It is disgraceful and tactless for Trump to suggest women making accusations against his officials are stating “mere allegations,” which suggests the president believes they're making the whole thing up. These women have offered documented evidence proving their accusations are legitimate. Citing “due process,” however, Trump completely ignores these women’s claims, dismissing them without consideration, in both his verbal statements and online.
Yes, we are a nation of laws, and yes, due process must be respected. But due process is a standard for a courtroom, not a presidential cabinet, and in light of overwhelming evidence contradicting his statements, it’s apparent that Porter was not a good person to have around.
Yet Trump seems to almost prefer to surround himself with people of very questionable morals and values, and chooses to ignore allegations of wrongdoing when they present themselves in some very obvious ways. This specific defense almost certainly has everything to do with allegations of abuse that follow him personally: Trump sees a bit of himself in Porter (and others like him), and rushes to his defense because it's essentially a defense of Trump.
His remarks are also highly hypocritical, as many users on Twitter have rightly pointed out. Trump wants due process for those closest to him — but for others who may oppose his political beliefs, or those whom he holds contempt for, it’s a commodity that he frequently chooses to ignore. In other words, due process is a value that matters to Trump, but only when it can be used to his own advantage.
There’s a storied list of examples to choose from that exemplify this — Trump’s insistence that the Central Park Five be given the death penalty (even after they were found to be innocent of all charges); his conspiratorial belief that Barack Obama was born outside of the United States, and thus not eligible for the presidency; and even his vociferous skepticism of the FBI, exemplify how Trump is more than happy to sling accusations against others, even without having a lick of legitimate evidence backing up his assertions. And if that's not enough to convince you, just hearken back to the 2016 campaign, when he celebrated chants of “lock her up!” against his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump rarely, if ever, corrects his accusations when he’s been proven wrong, either. Although he’s since said his remarks against Obama were a mistake, he never actually apologized to the former president for making them, and in private some have said he still maintains the errant claim is true.
In another example, this past week an investigation by federal officials into the death of a border agent found no evidence of an undocumented immigrant being responsible — a claim that Trump made at the time of the agent’s death, but for which he has not yet corrected himself on being wrong about.
In suggesting that his administration officials deserve due process while exhibiting his preference of denying (or wishing to deny) others the same courtesy, Trump demonstrates a desire for something truly nefarious: an inconsistent American democracy. Sexual, physical, and emotional abusers have no a place in the Oval Office — and to defend those deplorable actions, while attacking others using baseless pieces of “evidence,” is abhorrent behavior for any president to engage in.
It’s also a dangerous precedent to try and establish. Consistency is a bedrock principle of a democratic free state. Suggesting that the rule of law should work one way for some and a different way for others may lead to the erosion of a free and just society — a potential transition that would disturb most Americans, but apparently not Donald Trump.