How do you know that Jason Johnson was peddling hyperbole? Because after making his melodramatic statement, he insisted, “that’s not hyperbole.” On CNN this morning, Johnson—of Univision-owned The Root—speaking of the Comey firing, declared “this is how democracy dies.” He said of the current situation that it is “no longer a functioning democracy,” adding the obligatory “this is a constitutional and sovereignty crisis.”

On the same panel, CNN’s Ron Brownstein portrayed President Trump as “a president who simply is systematically committed to delegitimizing and undermining any institution that he believes can check or challenge him.” Brownstein claimed that “the only question is how does the political system respond? Does it have the will to defend the checks and balances that have constrained the arbitrary exercise of presidential power?”

RON BROWNSTEIN: I think the more evidence we have, the more clear it was that the only thing that is really relevant here is that the president fired the senior law enforcement official leading the investigation into the conduct of his campaign in 2016 and whether it colluded with the Russians in their efforts to destabilize the US election and everything else is noise. That is ultimately what happened. And I think you have to see this as part of a pattern we have talked about before. It goes along with the attacks on the fake news, on so-called judges who rule against him, on members of congress who vote against him. This is a president who simply is systematically committed to delegitimizing and undermining any institution that he believes can check or challenge him. And I think we all know that now. All of the members of congress know that now with this decision. And really, the only question is, how does the political system respond? Does it have the will to defend the traditional checks and balances that have constrained the arbitrary exercise of presidential power? That is the question. President Trump has kind of indicated his direction. The real issue is how everyone else responds.

. . .

JASON JOHNSON: This is how democracy dies. And that’s not hyperbole. When you have a situation where issues of national security are sublimated in favor of the personal desires, whims and loyalty pledges to the President of the United States, that is no longer a functioning democracy. This is a clarion call to every single member of congress to stand up and call for an independent investigation of this entire administration, above and beyond what happened with Russia. So, it doesn’t matter who the president picks. It doesn’t matter who he picks to replace him. This is a constitutional and a sovereignty crisis.