In his recent book, James Comey was pretty gentle in his treatment of Donald Trump. He likens Trump's approach to governing to a mob boss, but doesn't make the point with much force.
"As I found myself thrust into the Trump orbit, I once again was having flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth." James Comey (2017) A Higher Loyalty
Zephyr Teachout sat down with Chris Hayes on his podcast Why Is This Happening? for a much more in depth discussion of corruption and how Donald Trump relies on authoritarian leadership and why that is so counter to the principals our country was founded upon.
Teachout a law professor, has a 2014 book on the topic Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United.
It all starts with who's right. Under the rule of law, the law exists and we all accept and work under that system.
"...whoever you are you have the same speed limit. Whoever you are you have the same judge and that it is not like what protector you have that defines what the rules are."
But that's not the way Donald Trump works. He works on the basis of power. Of advantage. If you have an advantage, you use it.
When you see the world from that perspective, the rule of law is for other people. For Donald Trump, it's the rule of Donald Trump.
"...this idea of law as, a really beautiful idea that people are equal in the face of government is something that is actually incoherent to him."
"It's not that he opposes that idea. He is incapable of conceiving of it as a real thing."
"If you don't actually have the conception of the standard above and beyond power you actually can't even conceptualize what corruption is."
"And part of arbitrary power is like the idea of corruption then doesn't make any sense. What would corruption be. You use your advantage."
That's why loyalty is the most important thing to Trump. Not loyalty to the law, but to Donald Trump personally.
And that brings us to the idea of mob boss rule.
It's one of the oldest ethical codes that exist in human life which is "If you're with me you're on the right side of law and if you're not you're on the wrong side of the law." It's just pure mafia ethic. Absolutely "you are with us or you aren't." And that's what matters. There's no standard, there's no like thing out in the world. It's like "You're working for me. You're a good guy. I don't care if you put a vase through the face of your ex-wife."
The flip side is that Trump believes he can name anyone as an enemy and and make them against the law. When you are the decider, it's normal for you to make use of all your advantages. It only makes sense.
Six months into the Trump administration, Jonathan Chait hit the nail on the head in his article Donald Trump: L’état, C’est Moi
He believes the entire federal government owes its personal loyalty to him, and that the office of the presidency is properly a vehicle for personal and familial enrichment.
Driftglass and Bluegal at the Professional Left Podcast make the same point, but more bluntly.
"Donald Trump was raised in a mobster universe. He does not have a moral compass.
"It is impossible for Donald Trump to pretend to be civilized. He doesn't know what it means. He's a thug. He's a liar. He's a scumbag. He's a lech. He cheats on his wife. He rips off his contractors. He's a filthy, disgusting piece of sh#t and he doesn't know how to pretend to be anything other than that."
Just like a mob boss.
The media has a hard time deconstructing Donald Trump's behavior. But prosecutors do not. The current set of investigations have Trump and his organization dead-to-rights.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, but a vast array of legal forces are now squaring up on Trump's rejection of the rule of law and will hold him to account just like any number of mob bosses who came before him.