Obama White House Counsel Says 'Trump Has Made Full Use of Demagogue Playbook, Lies Repeatedly About the Facts'

An attorney and former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama said the U.S. Founding Fathers instructed future generations how to remove self-serving "demagogues" like President Donald Trump: impeachment. But doing so will prove much harder than they ever imagined, he said.

Robert "Bob" Bauer, a New York University School of Law professor, penned a cautionary op-ed in The New York Times Tuesday describing how Republicans' incoherent defense of Trump's Ukraine actions has exposed the limits of impeachment in removing a "demagogue" like the current U.S. president. Bauer is the latest of several legal experts and former lawmakers directing Americans' attention to The Federalist Papers, essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay that first expressed fears that a politician who possessed "perverted ambition" could one day take the country's top office.

Bauer noted that former President Richard Nixon, who was also convinced of his opposition's hatred and bad faith, still respected the Constitution enough to "stand ready to answer, under oath" the Judiciary Committee's questions.

Bauer argued that Trump's systematic vilification of Democrats and blatant disregard for the Constitution in the pursuit of self-interest is, in theory, supposed to have the "fail-safe protection" of the presidential impeachment process. Instead, Bauer says, Trump's "political tool kit" has turned into his best defense.

"It is a constitutional paradox: The very behaviors that necessitate impeachment supply the means for the demagogue to escape it," Bauer wrote.

"President Trump has made full use of the demagogic playbook. He has refused all cooperation with the House. He lies repeatedly about the facts, holds public rallies to spread these falsehoods and attacks the credibility, motives and even patriotism of witnesses," he added.

Bauer, writing in the piece called "Trump Is the Founders' Worst Nightmare," said that the president has a "naked political strategy" of completely refusing to participate in the impeachment inquiry, which has exposed how little power the government has to remove such a "demagogue."

A "demagogue," which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power," is invoked nearly a dozen times in the Tuesday NYT piece. Bauer compared Trump to former demagogues, including early 20th Century Louisiana Governor Huey Long, who once boasted, "I'm the Constitution around here now."

Bauer, who Obama named as co-chair of the Presidents Commission on Election Administration, said Trump and his attorneys are not trying to form any coherent constitutional argument. Instead, they are just trying to undermine and dismantle the process altogether through scornful harassment, lies and witness intimidation.

"When this is all over, we will not hear warm bipartisan praise for how 'the system worked,' he concluded. "The lesson will be that, in the politics of the time, a demagogue who gets into the Oval Office is hard to get out."

Bauer wrote another opinion piece in The Washington Post in April offering a similar warning to Americans and the federal government: "Trump's stonewalling of Congress is illegal. How far will he push it?" "Under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of the government, a fact Trump is unable to understand or unwilling to accept. The courts may yet have to educate him on this point. If he continues to push the confrontation after that, we will be in truly dangerous territory," Bauer warned at the time.

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An attorney and former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama said the U.S. Founding Fathers instructed future generations how to remove self-serving "demagogues" like President Donald Trump: Impeachment. ROBYN BECK / AFP/Getty Images
Obama White House Counsel Says 'Trump Has Made Full Use of Demagogue Playbook, Lies Repeatedly About the Facts' | Politics