(CNN)The end of Donald Trump’s time in the White House was always going to be ugly. Just how ugly is now coming into clearer focus.
The removal of Chris Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, on Tuesday night is the newest abomination of how a government and a president should work. While it’s impossible to say it’s the worst or most damaging thing Trump has done while in office — they all run together after a while — what can be said is that what the President did on Tuesday night runs directly counter to the healthy functioning of a democracy.Why? Because Krebs was fired for telling the truth.In a statement he signed and touted on Twitter, Krebs, as well as a number of public and private election officials, said this: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result. … There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”Which is a statement of fact. There simply have not been any proven instances of foreign interference in the 2020 election or malicious malfunctioning of voting machines in the country. None. Read MoreKrebs’ job was to keep this election safe and secure. He did his job. “I know Chris, I’ve worked well with him,” said Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman in the wake of Krebs’ removal. “I think he’s a real professional.”And yet, Krebs still got fired. For doing his job. Because our current President lives in a fantasy world where he believes there was widespread voter fraud. (Sidebar: Krebs’ statement didn’t even address voter fraud. He was simply talking about the election being safe from foreign interference or widespread malfunctions among voting systems. But I digress …)
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If you are fine with Trump firing Krebs, what you are saying is that the truth is immaterial. That the whims of a leader trump facts. Down this road — and it’s not even that slippery of a slope — lies nothing good. And in fact, a lot of very scary things.The removal of Krebs is in keeping with Trump’s broader approach to the government during his time in office — an approach that has accelerated, in no good ways, since his defeat was projected 11 days ago. Trump operates as though the entire federal bureaucracy is his personal plaything and needs to support him no matter what he says or does. So he rages at the Justice Department for not bringing investigations that could be politically damaging to his opponents. He refers to “my military” and “my generals.” And he demands that people within the government support his wild and often factually incorrect views or be labeled as insufficiently loyal and fired.I’ve been resistant to labeling Trump an authoritarian or someone with clear dictatorial inclinations. But the final days of his administration are characterized by just those tendencies: An obsession with victory at all costs, the erasure of truth and fact and the elimination of dissenting voices.It’s all awful. It’s deeply anti-democratic. And unfortunately, all signs point to it getting worse between now and January 20, 2021.