Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Amazon Adventure, by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.:
You might get some argument about exactly how illegal it is for politicians to use their law-enforcement powers to punish their political opponents.
But at least when Nixon sought to, he felt obliged to do so by secret memorandum. As keeper of the enemies list John Dean wrote, “This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”
As it happened, however, the IRS commissioner at the time, Donald Alexander, refused orders to carry out tax audits of the Nixon White House’s political enemies.
Today, nobody, not even his worst critics, expects to find a memo from President Obama instructing Lois Lerner at IRS to stonewall applications from conservative political groups for tax-exempt status.
His critics probably don’t even expect Mr. Obama to have muttered under his breath that such a thing would be desirable. Rather, Ms. Lerner, all on her own, seemingly decided as a loyal Democratic and ideological warrior that it would be a good thing to use her agency to hamper the president’s partisan antagonists. ...
Donald Trump, an innovator in all things, is now in the process of changing the rules in America with his threat to bring legal action against Amazon on antitrust grounds and, if we hear him correctly, on tax grounds as well.
Mr. Trump couldn’t have been clearer about his motivation. He complained about Washington Post reporters calling up and “asking ridiculous questions,” “all false stuff,” apparently related to Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which in defiance of all tradition he has refused to release, as well as Mr. Trump’s real-estate dealings.
Mr. Trump says the Post was purchased as “a toy” by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who bought the paper with his personal funds in 2013). Mr. Trump says the paper now is being used to attack Mr. Trump in order to protect Amazon’s alleged tax-dodging practices even though Amazon, after long resistance, has begun in recent years to collect state sales tax.
All this seems to arise because the Post, the dominant newspaper in the nation’s capital, has assigned reporters to investigate the business career of the candidate who champions his credibility to be president by referring to his business career. ...
Mr. Trump knows U.S. political culture well enough to know that gleefully, uninhibitedly threatening to use government’s law-enforcement powers to attack news reporters and political opponents just isn’t done.
Maybe he thinks he can get away with it. Maybe he’s trying to figure out how to disqualify himself for the presidency in a way that wouldn’t embarrass his fans or blow back on the business career that he always imagined he’d be returning to after the Republican convention at the latest. After all, one way to throw an election is to scare off donors (he needs about a billion dollars) by flaunting his inner Nixon.
Or maybe he really does want to be the American caudillo who flings American democratic and legal norms out the window and ushers in a new age of populist authoritarianism.
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1102 (May 15, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1101 (May 14, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1001-1100 (Feb. 4, 2016 - May 13, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 901-1000 (Oct. 27, 2015 - Feb. 3, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 801-900 (July 19, 2015 - Oct. 26, 2015)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 701-800 (April 10, 2015 - July 18, 2015)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 601-700 (Dec. 31, 2014 - April 9, 2015)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 501-600 (Sept. 22, 2014-Dec. 30, 2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 401-500 (June 14, 2014 - Sept. 21,2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 301-400 (Mar. 6, 2014 - June 13, 2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 201-300 (Nov. 26, 2013 - Mar. 5, 2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 101-200 (Aug. 18, 2013 - Nov. 25, 2013)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1-100 (May 10, 2013 - Aug. 17, 2013)