Our 45th President is finally learning an important lesson and judging by his tweets, it is scaring him. For many years, going back to the Reagan era, Republicans have spent no small amount of effort and time denigrating, insulting and harassing Federal employees. Their chants of “we want smaller government” has led to the underfunding or cancelling of Federal programs which were established to help all Americans. More importantly, these chants were made raucous by those who wished the U.S. Government would stop regulating their activities. Although it is admirable that politicians of both parties insist on accountability and the highest ethical standards from the Federal work sector; as has been the case time after time, they fail to exercise such ethical behavior themselves.
If their efforts were only confined to badgering Federal employees, those employees could manage to perform their assigned duties and still stay in their positions, underpaid and under-appreciated. But Republicans in particular, have been deliberately tapping into Federal employee pensions and yearly “cost-of-living” adjustments to the tune of billions of dollars annually ostensibly in order to balance the budget. Generally, cost of living adjustments are tied to inflation. They are also a weak attempt to compensate Federal employees for making considerably less money that they could be making for similar employment in the private sector.
The problem with reducing the pay for public employees and insulting them on top of it with claims of non-productivity, “laziness” and other such denigrating behavior is not readily evident until someone needs something from those employees. What is fascinating to watch is how this pernicious attitude towards Federal employees can turn around and bite someone in their nether regions.
We now have the spectacle of a sitting President who brags about his business acumen coming head-to-head with some of the best and most experienced Federal employees in American history and he can do nothing to thwart them. Absolutely nothing. His profound ignorance in just what exactly government employees do all day and night, on top of insulting them, is going to send him straight to a prison run by Federal employees after a Federal judge rules he belongs in jail for violating a Federal law or statute written by a former fellow Federal employee. Sadly, Donald Trump has no clue who government employees work for. He actually believes they all work for him and that similarly, they are there to do his bidding, and that they do not work for the American taxpayers. It never occurred to him that the oath taken by all employees in the government sector swear an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, and not, as Trump believes, him personally. Sure, he can hire or fire some Federal appointees, as long as the reason for doing so is based on the law, but he can do little to nothing to hinder the millions of Federal employees who are not his appointees. Yes, he can dry up the funding for programs he does not like, but again, thousands of hard-working employees can stop him in his tracks.
In general, the cadre of Federal prosecutors are paid by Congress and have more resources than any law firm in the private sector. Often, they wear down opposing counsel by their sheer numbers — even legal counsel for some of the biggest corporations in America. Their motivation is not based upon being paid by their corporate overlords, but rather, by their oath of office. Donald Trump persistently claims he rewards loyalty, but there is a special kind of loyalty not based on financial remuneration; but rather, a higher sense of purpose and he has no clue who he is dealing with.
Trump truly believes his sharp New York lawyers can handle an investigation headed by the former head of the FBI. Some of those same obnoxious lawyers have already fled his legal team. Evidently, Trump has a track record for not paying his previous legal counsel and that makes it difficult to retain new counsel with the expertise he is going to need which costs considerably more money. That Bob Mueller has in his current stable folks with a total of literally hundreds of years of prosecutorial experience, ranging from former heads of offices in the Justice Department, FBI and IRS should give him pause.
When Trump attempts end-runs around the law, such as his pardoning of a truly evil individual as a dry-run for pardoning his family members and friends in the future, Mueller simply picked up his phone and speed-dialed the Attorney General for the State of New York. Why? Because Presidential pardons carry with them admissions of guilt and also only apply to Federal matters, which means state legal jeopardy (and jailtime) still attaches. Trump’s financial status indicates he knows little to nothing about real estate but everything about bluster. That may help him land a business deal, but it will serve him not at all with hundreds of people who are all paid to be smarter and more effective at their Federal positions than are their private sector opposition. If this were a game of chess, Mueller already has Donald Trump’s king in his pocket.