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Experts debate: Is giving President Trump a chance open-minded or dangerous?

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A protester holds a sign that says "Resist"
A protester holds a sign that says "Resist" while she marches with 5,000 other protesters during a protest in Minneapolis against President Trump's immigration ban last month.
Tom Baker for MPR News

With President Trump now over two weeks into his presidency,  Intelligence Squared Debates posed the question: Should we give Trump a chance?

Does Trump represent the will of the American people, or a threat to the ideals of American democracy?

The motion was posed: "We should give Trump a chance," with two arguing for, and two against.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

For the motion: Clive Crook, columnist for Bloomberg View and former senior editor at The Atlantic, and Gayle Trotter, political analyst, columnist and attorney who most recently appeared on Fox News Channel's The Kelly File.

Against the motion: David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic and former speech writer for President George W. Bush, joins Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute.

For the motion: Opening statement

Trotter opened by emphasizing that the point of the debate was not to decide whether or not you liked President Trump as a person, or agree with his policies.

"Giving Trump a chance simply means that you're open-minded enough to allow the new administration to do its job, and to succeed or fail on its own terms," Trotter said.

It is the widespread refusal to give Trump this chance that has taken away from his critics' credibility — and emboldens those who supported him and continue to do so, she said.

Trotter said she chose to vote for Trump for three reasons: his experience, some of his personal characteristics and his policy positions.

"Trump is not bound by ideological consistency, instead he asks, 'What will work?'" Trotter said. 

Against the motion: Opening statement

While most people think that it's only fair to give everyone a chance to prove themselves, David Frum said the problem with giving Trump this chance is that we already have enough information to know we need to prepare to move against him.

"The action of asking you to withhold your judgement is an action that asks you to waste time in uncertainty when it is time to act, to storm-proof the republic and Constitution against the most dangerous occupant in the office in America history," Frum said.

Frum said Trump's lack of action to appear transparent or separate himself and his family from his businesses means we already know that he will behave unethically.

"The second thing we know is that Donald Trump intends to run an administration that will attack fundamental American liberties," he said, pointing to Trump's rejection of the media as a means of discrediting the concept of truth.

The things Trump says cannot be unsaid and the suspicions that he was colluding with Russia during his campaign cannot be forgotten, Frum argued.

"We understand that something is terribly wrong, and we know that the administration will not let us get to the bottom of it," Frum said.

To listen to the debate, click the audio player above.

Related reading

• Americans to Trump: Here's what you need to know

• Russia: This expert thinks Trump is being blackmailed

• More from MPR News Presents

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