Nearly everyone interprets the exhaustive, nearly 450-page report from Robert Mueller as a story of presidential overreach. Convinced that Mr. Mueller’s investigation would embarrass his administration by revealing the extent of Russian influence on the 2016 election, President Trump attempted to undermine the special counsel’s probe.
But the report is actually a story of presidential weakness. Every time Mr. Trump tried to stop the investigation, the president was stymied by his own subordinates.
The president’s failures reveal the remarkable weakness of an office that the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. famously described as “the imperial presidency.” Mr. Schlesinger claimed that the separation of powers no longer protects us from presidential self-aggrandizement as intended by the founders. Congress rarely checks the president, preferring instead to delegate its powers to him. The judiciary, meanwhile, is too plodding an institution to respond to presidential abuses of power in real time.
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