American institutions are stronger than those of Turkey or Venezuela. But one reason they are stronger is a balance of institutional power in which the legislature is willing to check the excessive ambitions of the executive branch.
Would McCarthy be willing to play that role as speaker? Consider the scenario in which Republicans narrowly maintain control of the House in November’s midterm elections — which Trump would claim as complete vindication for his approach to governing. Suppose the economy is roaring along, providing a partisan talking point to every elected Republican. In this environment, will the FBI survive as an independent institution? Will all the corruption of Trump’s campaign team, his White House appointments, his family and his own past business and political dealings be washed away in a flood of self-interested pardons? Will Trump be able to harass and intimidate his enemies in politics, business and the media with impunity?
The president has now claimed the entire executive branch as his private fiefdom, and every federal law enforcement official as his personal servant. Would a Speaker McCarthy stand athwart Trumpism yelling “Stop!”?