Meacham: Trump Calling Obama to Testify a Rejection of ‘Two and a Half Centuries’ of ‘Civilized Veneer’

During Friday’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, author and historian Jon Meacham sounded off on President Donald Trump in a tweet calling for former President Barack Obama to testify before Congress over the unmasking of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Co-host Willie Geist asked Meacham if the United States has ever seen a president call for his predecessor to testify before Congress for an alleged scandal.

Meacham replied, “no,” adding that Trump has “rejected” two and a half centuries of “civilized veneer” by “demonizing his predecessor.”

“You know … the incumbent president has exacerbated some elemental human forces that most people have kept in check and, by and large, have been kept and managed in check for going on two and a half centuries now,” Meacham explained. “[H]e just has rejected that civilized veneer, that civilized screen that separates us from the political state of nature. And he’s just taken us straight into a kind of Hobbsian world of anything goes. The last president to testify before Congress was Gerald Ford … about the pardon of President Nixon. He did so voluntarily. Before that, I think I’m right about this, no one had gone to Congress since George Washington, who had gone once, hated it, and nobody ever went back.”

“Now, former presidents get deposed,” he continued. “They are absolutely within the rule of law. That’s one of the things that makes America America. But the weaponization, the coinage of this term, which I’m not going to say, but the coinage of the term is an absolute — I can’t call it an apotheosis, because that would suggest it’s the height of something — it’s the full manifestation of the Trump era. It’s grabbing at nothing and attempting to mislead just enough people by demonizing his predecessor that he can make hay out of that. It’s another blow against the role of fact in America.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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