President Donald Trump’s habit of obstructing government operations — from within the White House — now extends into his lame-duck period.
President-elect Joe Biden’s team is working around the incumbent’s refusal to help the transition. Biden's aides reportedly are turning to former officials who served in the current administration for clues on major national security threats. As of Wednesday, the Trump appointee who heads the General Services Administration was still denying Biden the green light for access to intelligence briefings and federal funding and resources that normally are delivered when the nation prepares for a peaceful transfer of power between presidents.
Obstruction and even a measure of subversion may be the point of Trump's continued support for Dr. Scott Atlas. He's the White House adviser who offers little in the way of accepted alternatives yet rebuffs standard public-health efforts to contain the coronavirus spread amid a pandemic that's so far killed over 250,000 Americans.
On social media, Atlas encouraged people in Michigan to "rise up" against the state's new restrictions to curb its recent surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, echoing Trump's "Liberate Michigan" grandstanding of the earlier months of the pandemic. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Atlas' urgings "incredibly reckless, considering everything that has happened, everything that is going on."
This is typical for Trump. Carving away at programs and laws he inherited, while heckling others in government, has been a trademark. Even on his way out of office, he's pushing to eviscerate in court the Affordable Care Act, a signature accomplishment of the Obama administration. Nothing resembling a replacement law even came close to fruition.
Also fitting the pattern: withdrawal and renegotiation of trade deals, trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement, slamming prior U.S. efforts on Afghanistan and North Korea, rattling NATO and withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. Limited changes were negotiated in the NAFTA agreements with Mexico and Canada.
For a time, Trump drew attention by stalling U.S. aid to Ukraine and by trying to abort probes into his campaign's Russia contacts. He squelched federal convictions through pardons and commutations for political allies. He shut down government agencies for more than a month to try to prod Congress into funding his bedraggled border-wall project. He began the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization as part of faulting that agency for the spread of the virus.
This was how he rolled.
Trump didn't do these things in the cause of smaller government or personal freedom. Federal spending exploded, in fact, while Trump screamed to no effect for "law and order."
Clearly he has reacted with spite and denial after losing the election. He was defeated by such a significant margin that his lawyers can't come close to showing that irregularities cost him the race.
This is the Trump that a majority of voters came to know — and fired for cause.