CNN - The constitutional showdown between President Donald Trump and House Democrats is taking a grave new twist that threatens to embroil the nation in a deep political and legal nightmare that could last for years.
With almost every day that passes, Trump is providing a glimpse of how American government might look under a President who disdains the principles and pillars on which it is built.
His sweeping assertion of executive privilege over the entire Mueller report on Wednesday intensified the most serious standoff between Congress and the White House in decades and opened a hugely significant new battle over the nature of US democracy.
The move followed broad and repeated efforts by the administration to thwart congressional oversight, for example, by ignoring subpoenas for documents and testimony by current and former officials.
On Wednesday it also emerged that the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee is deadlocked with the President’s eldest son, Don Jr., who has been subpoenaed to return to the panel to testify.
But while Washington is consumed by the confrontation, polls and anecdotal evidence suggest indifference among many Americans about the momentous goings-on in Washington, which so far are not resonating much outside the capital.
A strong economy, extreme political polarization and the daily struggles of millions of people to pay for essentials like health care and a college education are understandably seen as more important.
This is one reason why Democrats, many of whom believe there is more than enough material to impeach Trump, are wary of taking that ultimate step; most voters do not seem to want an impeachment saga.
And any impression in the heartland that the latest drama is just another tortured episode in an era of political estrangement would have been reinforced by the theatrics in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
A hearing in which Democrats held Attorney General William Barr in contempt pulsated with enough grandstanding and hypocrisy on both sides to turn anyone against politics — and in atmosphere, rather than substance, looked like business as usual in the divided capital.
I fucking hate people.