Like a broken record, I keep coming back to one question: what can his supporters be thinking?
In just one November week, the President of the United States pardoned three war criminals and endorsed a measure facilitating predatory payday loans. A report in Talking Points Memo has details of both.
President Trump’s pardons: “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio. Michael Behenna. And this week, three convicted or accused murderers: Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, both of whom Trump pardoned, and Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who Trump granted clemency.
Gallagher, the best-known of the trio, was acquitted of charges that he murdered an teenage Islamic State captive. But he was convicted of posing with the boy’s body. And his own SEALs testified against him, including SEAL Dylan Dille, who testified that he witnessed Gallagher shoot innocent people with a sniper rifle. Another SEAL under Gallagher’s charge testified, “I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS.”
“I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state,” Trump said Tuesday. In this case, that apparently means the Defense secretary, the (fired) Navy secretary and military prosecutors.
If Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, who was forced out over his strong denunciation of the pardons, is a member of the “deep state,” then we need more deep state operatives.
In his letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Spencer criticized Trump for interfering on Gallagher’s behalf.
“…I no longer share the same understanding as the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline,” he wrote. “I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Among the multitude of concepts that elude our Moron In Chief is the fact that his pardons endanger American troops. If we do not obey the rules of “good order and discipline,” our antagonists will feel no compunction to treat American prisoners humanely. You can visit Lawfare for a perceptive discussion of the other damage these pardons do.
Allowing lenders to profit from imposing outrageous interest rates on those least able to pay them may not be as monumentally evil as encouraging war crimes, but it is appalling nonetheless.
Want to make payday loans in states where it’s outlawed? Rent a bank! Laws governing interest rates on predatory loans vary widely from state to state. Predatory lenders hate that. They want to be able to charge 120% APR in Colorado just like they do in, say, Wisconsin. How do they do that now? They use the bank in Wisconsin to process a high-interest loan that, in all other respects, was effectively carried out through a storefront in Denver. Yes, this really happened, and yes, the Trump administration has taken the banks’ side in the ongoing legal battle.
A 2015 court decision has hampered this effort somewhat for predatory lenders, but the FDIC and the Comptroller of the Currency want to change that, announcing a proposal that would actively promote the practice.
FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams “is doing the bidding of loan sharks who have a decades-long history of trying to get around state consumer protection rules,” Americans for Financial Reform spokesperson Carter Dougherty observed. “And now a federal regulator is helping them do it.”
These two actions weren’t the only measures the administration took that week to unravel safeguards and undermine the rule of law, but even if they were–even if they stood alone–how do Trump’s supporters defend them? What sort of people continue to wear their MAGA hats, and proclaim that Trump was “chosen by God” and “a better President than Lincoln?”
The only answer I can come up with is: people who believe in a God who wants White Christian men to dominate others, and people who still resent Lincoln for freeing the slaves. (They were, after all, black people.)
I always knew there were some people who held these views. What is heartbreaking is that there are so many of them.