Trump’s attack on Amazon may be his most egregious abuse of power yet

By | December 19, 2019

Jonathan Chait writes:

That President Trump’s Ukraine policy led to articles of impeachment against him was largely a matter of chance. A CIA official decided to collect evidence that the administration’s foreign policy was being used as a domestic oppo-research shakedown. The director of national intelligence suppressed the complaint, but Congress managed to find out about it just before Ukraine’s president was set to announce investigations into Trump’s domestic opponents, improbably foiling the scheme. This unlucky sequence explains Trump’s fixation on the whistle-blower, but for whom Ukraine would be just another Trump scandal sitting in plain sight. “Frankly,” a close Trump adviser recently confided to CNN, “I think he’s a little surprised it’s the Ukraine thing that’s done it.”

Another scandal, posing a far more dire threat, has unfolded mostly in public without causing Trump the slightest discomfort, let alone impeachment. According to a lawsuit filed this month, Trump influenced, and probably ordered, his Defense Department to deny Amazon a $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud-computing contract to punish the company’s owner, Jeff Bezos, for publishing the Washington Post. In the wake of Trump’s election, critics who predicted Trump might turn the government into a weapon to threaten and punish newspapers would have been dismissed as hysterical. But the fact pattern — which would have been an impeachment-worthy scandal in another presidency but has been treated like a C-plot in our frenzied political moment — leaves virtually no doubt.

Trump’s obsession with Bezos began during the campaign, when he lashed out at the Post for its critical coverage and threatened to harm Amazon. “If I become president — oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems,” he said. Trump kept up his attacks on Amazon and the Post — which, despite their common owner, are independent of each other — frequently treating the two as interchangeable and calling the newspaper the “Amazon Washington Post.” [Continue reading…]

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