Trump intensifies assault on rule of law as he fights for reelection

Trump called on his supporters in North Carolina to act as poll watchers, to watch out for “thieving, and stealing and robbing” that he is warning without evidence will taint Election Day. He made his call at a packed rally in Winston-Salem where he and many of his fans made a mockery of the state’s mask mandate — as well as the advice of his own government amid a pandemic that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans and was exacerbated by his prioritizing politics over science.
Justice Department wants to defend Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit
But most shockingly, and in one of the most stunning maneuvers in the modern history of the Department of Justice, government lawyers Tuesday applied to take over the defense of Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a woman who accused him of rape in the 1990s.
The move will inflame claims that Attorney General William Barr, who misrepresented the Mueller report and has intervened in other highly political cases that are inconvenient to the President, is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer and desecrating his department’s traditional role.
The latest development came nearly four years into a presidency marked by Trump’s constant efforts to test the limits of his power and to weaponize the legal and institutional functions of the government to further his political ends. That process is accelerating now as a President impeached for abuse of power seeks to use all the tools of his office to secure a second term and is undermining the integrity of the vote with flagrantly false claims of election corruption.
But while Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, used their convention to warn Trump is tearing at the foundations of the republic itself, there is little sign that Trump’s fervent base — or the Republicans who saved his presidency in a Senate trial — are concerned at his broadening power grabs.
Trump’s rally in battleground North Carolina took place as he sought to extricate himself from another staggering controversy. He is adamantly denying reports that he called America’s war dead “losers” and “suckers,” eight weeks before an election in which he is currently trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump sows more pre-election chaos

After last week calling on North Carolina voters to potentially breach the law by trying to vote twice to test the security of mail-in voting, which he inaccurately claims is plagued by massive fraud, Trump went a step further on Tuesday evening.
“Got to be careful with those ballots. Watch those ballots. I don’t like it. You know, you have a Democrat governor, you have all these Democrats watching that stuff, I don’t like it,” Trump said.
“Watch it. Be poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do. Because this is important. We win North Carolina, we win.”
North Carolina on Friday began sending hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots to voters.
Trump’s comments raised the specter of chaos and voter intimidation at the polls in the event that his supporters take his advice to mass at polling stations. They are part of a prolonged effort by the President to shatter the legitimacy of the election — apparently either to excuse a possible loss or to prepare the groundwork for a legal fight in the event of a close result.
No President in living memory has made such explicit efforts with authoritarian echoes to portray the most sacred exercise in American democracy — an election and the possible peaceful transfer of power between parties — as unfair and corrupt.
The Department of Justice is meanwhile arguing that it must take over the defense of the President against E. Jean Carroll because his comments that sparked her defamation lawsuit came while he was in office.
Carroll, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, alleged in a lawsuit filed last fall that Trump defamed her with lies over her earlier claims he sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at luxury Manhattan department store in the 1990s. Trump has denied the allegation, calling it “totally false” and saying he “never met this person in my life.”
The request and possible change of lawyers could further delay the lawsuit, or even kill it entirely. The application also raises the extraordinary possibility that US taxpayers would fund a legal action arising from an alleged rape accusation against the President pertaining to an incident more than 20 years in the past.

Trump tries to move on from military controversy

In an earlier rupture of the role traditionally played by the commander-in-chief, Trump had on Monday rounded on generals he decided had not sufficiently defended him over claims he mocked US war dead first reported by The Atlantic.
His adamant denials of the story suggest he is worried it could hurt his support among those serving in the military, as CNN reported on Tuesday.
And the affair, in a way, is also yet another example of how Trump uses the institutions of government to further his advantage.
He loves to pose, in public at least, as a fierce Gen. George Patton-style leader and friend of the troops And he’s often used decorated generals, tanks, planes, ships and men as a backdrop and prop to perpetuate his own strongman persona. He therefore cannot afford any questions about this sincerity as commander-in-chief.
Since the choreographed Republican National Convention, which painted an unrecognizable picture of Trump as a benevolent, empathetic statesman, he has reeled from outrage to crisis, unable to effectively direct the tough assault on Biden being waged by his campaign.
It is a sign of the scrambled political scene in the middle of the worst domestic crisis since World War II, the uncertainty surrounding polling following Trump’s shock 2016 win and questions about how Americans can even vote, that it is not immediately clear how the President’s wild last few weeks will impact the election.
Still, as he trails Biden in national polls and with significant problems in swing states and a cash advantage that has evaporated, Trump can’t afford to waste the campaign days left to him.
Democratic nominee Biden has seized on the controversy over Trump’s reported remarks about the US dead in a French World War I graveyard and Arlington National Cemetery to bolster the kind of shadow presidency he is using to convince Americans that they need to put a more stable figure in the White House.
A new Biden campaign ad promises that the former vice president can help America “start fresh” to end the “anger, the insults, the division, the violence.”
“We can stop focusing on a President who thinks it is all about him and start focusing on what’s best for us,” the ad says.