These process norms fared well. But the Mueller report marked a low point for more substantive norms of presidential conduct. It shows that a demagogic president like Donald Trump can devalue or even depart radically from key norms, just short of committing chargeable crimes, so long as he operates mostly and brazenly in full public view. For a demagogue, shamelessness is its own reward.
Such a president can have openly, actively encouraged and welcomed foreign government support for his political campaigns, and his campaign can reinforce the point in direct communications with that government’s representatives. The Barr summary reveals that the special counsel uncovered not just a couple but “multiple offers” of support from the Russians, and yet neither Mr. Trump nor his campaign reported them to counterintelligence or law enforcement authorities. Mr. Trump went further still — while in office, he dictated a statement for his son and campaign aide, Donald Trump Jr., that falsely represented the purposes of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior campaign representatives and a Kremlin-connected representative (and others) offering assistance in the 2016 election.