Reince Priebus, Donald McGahn, NSA Director Mike Rogers, and countless other Deep Staters and Establishmentarians did Trump one enormous favor after another by not taking him very seriously when he demanded they do dishonorable, inadvisable or possibly illegal things. Or they took him seriously, and therefore disobeyed him. Perhaps some knew that because of Trump’s nature, his time horizon is a few feet from his nose and they wouldn’t have to pay a price for disobedience because Trump would soon forget his demands. Or perhaps some would have refused no matter what. Either way, they worked harder to save Trump’s presidency than Trump did.
In a sense, that’s the good news: Our institutions work, and it takes more than one bad apple — even a bad presidential apple — to override that.
This isn’t entirely new. Think of all those recent stories about the Nixon administration, in which the president’s closest associates are said to have simply ignored orders from him that were crazy. I do not know to a certainty if those stories are entirely true, exaggerated, or what, but I am reasonably confident that a president still can be told “no,” and that that happens when it really needs to.