Maybe President Donald Trump, with his latest executive-power claims, is driving a true constitutional crisis.
Surely he has created a seriousness crisis.
This is a recurring dilemma — how seriously to take Trump’s remarks, whether tweeted or spoken.
Given his truthless habits, Trump’s lawyers seem well advised to discourage him from voluntarily testifying under oath about anything.
But because of the office he occupies, it is less than advisable for the public to blithely dismiss any threat from his words.
It has not been called the imperial presidency for nothing. How imperial becomes the concern.
Capping a weekend’s worth of defensive frenzy over the Russia probe, the president actually tweeted on Monday:
“The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”
It isn’t. Whether he’s lying or mistaken does not matter. The existence of the counsel’s office exists legally no matter how many capital letters Trump uses.
Even Trump’s lawyer-enabler Rudy Giuliani — who coined the Orwellian statement “freedom is about authority” — didn’t call the special counsel probe unconstitutional in weekend TV interviews.
The ex-mayor did assert his president-client could hypothetically pardon himself for a crime.
The president made it all sillier by stating in his Monday tweet that “despite” the special counsel’s role being illegal, “we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!”
Read that again: “We play the game.”
Note also that Trump makes no serious effort to persuade anyone outside his most pliant devotees that the Democrats met with Russians anywhere near as much as his campaign did.
Trump and his surrogates in recent days have been making the lion’s share of media noise — aided by The New York Times’ publication of a confidential memo from his legal team.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has been silent, though some of its actions become public as his staff and other officials interview witnesses and demand documents.
During the 2016 campaign, verbal gymnasts around the GOP candidate spoke absurdly of a distinction between taking Trump “seriously” and taking him “literally.”
On Friday, the matter issue of serious conversation arose in a more somber way when Trump met privately with bereaved parents of students killed May 18 at Santa Fe High School.
Rhonda Hart, whose 14-year-old daughter, Kimberly Vaughan, was killed, said Trump repeatedly used the word “wacky” to describe the shooter and the trench coat he wore.
As an Army veteran, she said she suggested hiring other veterans to help watch over schools.
“And arm them?” Trump asked, according to Hart.
“No,” she replied.
But Trump “kept mentioning” arming classroom teachers.
“It was like talking to a toddler,” Hart said.