Mr Trump's attack on the rule of law continues apace. Distracting from his personally derived electoral losses in the congress, Trump immediately fired his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

He had been disparaging Sessions for nearly a year, ever since Sessions, who, forced by the possibility of perjury in his own confirmation testimony, recused himself from oversight of the inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

It is worth noting that Sessions' recusal came after vigorous questioning during Sessions' Senate confirmation hearings by then Senator Al Franken about Sessions' own contact with the Russians. That recusal led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

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Trump, who has a history of personally attacking judges who rule against him, appointed a political loyalist, Mathew Whitaker, as interim Attorney General. The appointment was immediately denounced as unconstitutional in that Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate, making any decisions he might make subject to litigation on constitutional grounds. It is unclear where any authority Whitaker may claim derives.

His threat, however, to the Mueller investigation which he had previously denigrated while opining as a TV pundit, sent thousands into the street to protest Sessions' firing.
The protests, nationally organised and orchestrated to occur simultaneously, gave fodder for ironic misinterpretation.

The mere impression that these street gatherings were in support of Sessions himself was misleading. Sessions, who eagerly carried out Trump's policy of separating children from asylum seekers under a "zero tolerance" directive, is reviled by the protesters who came out to express their support for the integrity of the Mueller investigation into Russia's alleged interference with the 2016 election which installed Trump in the White House.

The new Congress is sworn in on January 3, 2019. The midterm elections were a referendum on the President. The resounding win of the House of Representatives by Democrats means that Trump's legislative agenda is moribund. In addition, he will have to cope with serious investigations by the oversight committees, which, in Republican hands, did nothing but enable him and give him cover in exchange for passage of a massive tax cut that disproportionately favours the rich and increases the federal deficit.

In this current lame-duck session, the Senate Majority Leader is refusing to allow consideration of a bill to protect the Mueller investigation.

Trump, after a disastrous European trip, criticised universally for his failure on account of rain, to visit the American cemetery at Aisne-Marne, the burial place of 10,000 Americans killed at Belleau Wood in WWI, has seemingly gone to ground, beyond a brief denial of the voters' rejection. Gone are the claims of a migrant "invasion". Instead, he has posted furious rants and false claims of voter fraud, got into a shouting match with a CNN reporter, whom he briefly excluded from the White House for a lack of "decorum", and given more evidence of the chaos in the White House, in the form of threats of staff firings to come.

Even the First Lady, Melania Trump, got into the act with an unprecedented public attack on deputy security adviser Mira Ricardel.

All the noise seems like part of the reality TV show that Trump runs, often to distract while he does something really awful. Right now, I'm expecting a shoe to drop, possibly in the form of indictments by Mueller's team of some of those close to Trump, perhaps Donald Jnr.


Whitaker is in a position to warn Trump exactly how much danger he is in.
Other presidents in cornered positions — I'm thinking of Nixon — no matter how unscrupulous, still respected the institutions and the rule of law, even when they broke the law.

This president has shown no such respect.

It's always been about winning, which, given his methods, is really about fear of losing.
What he might do is anyone's guess. Republicans have shown no inclination to put country above politics and restrain him.

It's going to be hard to hold my breath until January 3.

Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.