In a similar vein, Trump defenders concede that the president attempted to obstruct justice by ordering Robert Mueller to be fired, instructing officials to falsify records, and more, but that since his staff didn’t carry out these instructions, it’s all okay. The system works. The guardrails are in place.

There are a number of problems with this logic.

Not all of President Trump’s abuses of power require underlings to carry them out. He has asked China to investigate the Bidens on national television, and invited Russia to interfere in a U.S. election in the same fashion. He has declared a spurious national emergency to redirect funds for a purpose not approved by Congress. The guardrails failed.

He has also publicly engaged in witness tampering. Just in the past few days, he has been on a public crusade to reveal the identity of the whistleblower in the Ukraine case. The whistleblower’s testimony, please recall, was at first dismissed by Trumpworld as irrelevant because it was “second-hand.” Since then, a parade of witnesses, including members of Trump’s own national security council staff, have provided first-hand accounts that confirm the whistleblower’s account. His job is done. But Trump wants to make him the issue. He compared the whistleblower to a spy, and publicly fantasized about executing him.