Opinion: Trumpers, if you saw something, say something

But Taylor, who served in the Department of Homeland Security as chief of staff, should be a model for current and former Trump officials. Most should say what they know in their hearts before the election.

Taylor said that he witnessed President Trump repeatedly put his own political interests before the national security of the American people. He described four more years of Trump as “unthinkable.” There are other current and former senior Trump officials who think the same. The Trump years are rich with reports of staffers anonymously whispering their concerns to media and outside allies.

Some may say that sharing secrets from the inner sanctum of the White House is dishonorable, even despicable. That’s true, on one level. But there is a higher, more important value at stake here than loyalty to your boss: loyalty to your country.

For former and current officials who have witnessed presidential behavior that makes them sure a second Trump term would be devastating for America, indiscretion pales as a vice compared to silence and complicity in harming your country.

Some of these officials probably never thought it was a good idea for Trump to be president in the first place. These silent sleepers presented themselves in Trump Tower during the transition as discreet technocrats, albeit with longtime ties to the conservative movement.

They should share specific examples of presidential behavior that underpin their beliefs. Taylor spoke of a president convinced he has “magical authorities” that supersede the rule of law, a man who wanted to withhold emergency aid to citizens living in California as political punishment, use the separation of families as a deterrent to those seeking refuge, and who will enter a second term more emboldened to use power for “shock and awe.”

In following his example, officials should provide as much detail as possible, including naming the names of others in the room who will be asked to corroborate the accounts.

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Some former Trump officials who are out of office already may think there is an upside to biting their tongues. There is not. Our question to these former officials is: Do you believe that four more years of Trump would be devastating for this country? If the answer is yes, speak out soon.

Say what you saw and what you know. It is not safer to sit quietly on the sidelines, not in the long term for these former officials’ careers and, certainly not for America. Former senior officials who sit in silence face the condemnation of a majority of Americans and the plurality of business, cultural and academic leadership. One can argue that taking a moral stand now vastly improves their long-term career prospects in all the usual venues of post-government service. That’s a selfish calculation, but one each will inevitably weigh.

Staying silent also forever consigns these current and former officials to the Trump wing of the party. Do they really want to staff Don Jr., Jared or Ivanka’s election campaigns? By standing up now, they can be the architects of the post- (and perhaps anti-) Trump Republican future.

Each new account of Trump’s debauching of the sacred office of the Presidency may just be another drop in the bucket already overflowing with outrageous reports. But media reports about these current and former insiders sharing what they know, day after day, can make a difference.

If it looks like Trump could eke out another win, each current official must weigh whether they would continue on in a second term. If they can stomach continued service and the election looks too close to call, history should give these public servants a pass if they stay silent. We all stand to benefit from their sacrifice.

If you doubt that, consider what damage could be done if another unqualified Trump toady took over their responsibilities in positions key to our defense and economy. For these few who understand the danger Trump poses, the moral mandate to continue to serve may be more valuable to our collective good than the redemptive release of saying what they know to be true: the man is entirely unsuited for the Oval Office.

Someday they can tell their stories, but maybe not in time to make a meaningful difference in stopping what they most certainly dread: four more years.

Beyond these few crucial technocrats, every current and former Trump official who knows in their hearts that another four years under Trump is an irreconcilable threat to the nation should speak up soon. If they saw something, they should say something.

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