Jake Tapper opened CNN's The Lead on Monday with a critique of President Donald Trump's apparent appeasement and often praise of brutal dictators that closed with quotes from former President Ronald Reagan.
"The rules of the Senate are designed to make sure that the minority party is able to exercise some influence regardless of which party is in charge," Tapper explained. "It's called the filibuster, it dates back to the early years of Congress, it's part of the American system of checks and balances."
"But, frustrated by his inability to pass major legislation in Congress," he continued, "President Trump is now talking about changing those rules, as he threatened during the campaign."
"The rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through," President Trump recently said, "it's really a bad thing for the country in my opinion, they're archaic rules, and maybe at some point we're going to have to take those rules on."
"Taking those rules on," Tapper continued. "The White House is also now acknowledging that it has spent time and your tax dollars trying to figure a way to change the modern legal interpretation of the First Amendment to the Constitution's guarantee of Freedom of the Press. James Madison be damned, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was recently asked if the president would really want to pursue a change in libel laws as he threatened during the campaign."
"I think it's something that we've looked at," Priebus has said, "and how that's executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story."
"This desire to change the constitutional systems we have in place," Tapper continued, "to protect the nation from any theoretical would-be dictator comes at at time when President Trump has show unusual actual outreach to a number of actual dictators, such as for instance, North Korea's Kim Jong Un."
"At a very young age," Trump said, "he was able to assume power. A lot of people I'm sure tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle, or anybody else. And he was able to do it so, obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie."
"Kim Jong Un had his uncle murdered, that does not make Kim Jong Un a smart cookie, that makes him a murderer," Tapper observed.
"The president told Bloomberg News today he would be 'honored' to meet with Kim," he reported. "And Kim Jong Un is not the only brutal dictator the president has reached out to over the weekend. The White House says the president had a 'very friendly conversation' with the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who according to Amnesty International has engaged in rampant crimes against humanity, with extra-judicial killings of at least 7,000 Filipino citizens by the police. Duterte has personally bragged about committing some of these murders himself, and has said that some journalists should be assassinated."
"President Trump invited Duterte to the White House," Tapper added.
"Now this is all of a piece. The president also recently called Turkish president Erdogan to congratulate him on his recent power grab," he continued. "He's had kind words for Vladimir Putin, for the Chinese despots who perpetrated the Tiananmen Square massacre, and he called them 'strong,' he said Saddam Hussein and Muamar Qaddafi were bad guys but that Iraq and Libya were in much better shape during their despotic regimes."
"Equating brutality and despotism with leadership, that's not an American value," Tapper concluded. "Ronald Reagan once noted how our Declaration of Independence, especially the notion that each and every individual is endowed by our Creator with a certain unalienable rights, that's a beacon to the world. Reagan said, 'Our creed as Americans is that these rights, these human rights, are the property of every man, woman and child on this planet. And that a violation of human rights anywhere the business of free people everywhere.'"
"Whatever happened to that?" Tapper asked.
Tapper has on occasion used the opening monologue of The Lead to address actions of the president he finds questionable or just unfathomable. In February he called Trump's ban on the media 'un-American,' and in another monologue he told Trump through the camera, "get to work and stop whining about it!" over media bias.
Tapper said recently that the believed he had stayed consistent with his fact checking on current President Trump as compared to former President Obama.