Robert Mueller stated he couldn’t indict a sitting President because it is “unconstitutional.” It was a bold statement to make especially since it is not true. This OLC opinion that I presume Mueller is basing his own conclusion upon has not been tested in the courts. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Constitution that says that the President is above the law which is effectively what such a conclusion asserts.
In fact, I would argue the Constitution states the exact opposite: the President is not above the law. And I would probably win my argument dependent only upon the number of beer drinking judges on the bench that might not be totally impartial. When our Constitution was written our founders had just a few years earlier fought a war to end the rule of a man who was legally above the law. That would be the King of England for those who missed the memo. When considering that our founding fathers would not ever want any man to hold that much power ever again, the statement Mueller makes seems absolutely absurd.
It is generally understood that Mueller is basing his conclusion on an untested opinion by the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) that was offered in 1973. Ken Starr’s team in the 1990’s offered a more recent opinion. Starr’s team asserted that a sitting President can be indicted. Around that same time, a Supreme Court ruling affirmed that a sitting President can face some civil lawsuits (Clinton v. Jones, 1997). And prior to that ruling, in 1982 (Nixon v. Fitzgerald), the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, Warren Burger, in his concurring opinion that favored protecting Presidents against being sued if their actions were directly associated with official duties, stated this:
“The dissents are wide of the mark to the extent that they imply that the Court today recognizes sweeping immunity for a President for all acts. The Court does no such thing. The immunity is limited to civil damages claims. Moreover, a President, like Members of Congress, judges, prosecutors, or congressional aides — all having absolute immunity — are not immune for acts outside official duties. Ante at 457 U. S. 753-755. Even the broad immunity of the Speech and Debate Clause has its limits…”
“In United States v. Brewster, 408 U. S. 501 (1972), we held that the Speech and Debate Clause does not prohibit prosecution of a Senator for accepting a bribe designed to influence his legislative acts…”
“When judicial action is needed to serve broad public interests — as when the Court acts not in derogation of the separation of powers, but to maintain their proper balance, cf. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, or to vindicate the public interest in an ongoing criminal prosecution, see United States v. Nixon— the exercise of jurisdiction has been held warranted. In the case of this merely private suit for damages based on a President’s official acts, we hold it is not…The Court has recognized before that there is a lesser public interest in actions for civil damages than, for example, in criminal prosecutions…”
If the Supreme Court ruled that sitting Presidents are not immune from all civil lawsuits (Clinton v. Jones) and if an earlier 1982 ruling included statements by the Chief Justice that indicates civil lawsuits are less worthy of interest than criminal offensives when perpetrated by elected officeholders, then there should be no question that a sitting President can be indicted for criminal offenses. The integrity of the office demands that we have people holding that office who have respect for the law. Presidents are required to face criminal prosecution just like any other citizen, and, in fact, they should be held to a higher bar than any other citizen given the importance of the office.
Failing to prosecute whenever egregious criminal offenses are perpetrated by occupants of our nation’s highest office damages the integrity of the office itself and damages our nation’s credibility as preserver of justice. The arguably errant 1973 OLC opinion was rendered by a likely Presidential apologist at a time when another more infamous President to date faced the threat of criminal prosecution. Had Mueller explicitly stated his intention to follow a traditional standard set by previous Presidential Investigators to refer the matter to Congress then I do not believe many, absent the political pundits, would find fault with that. However, when evaluating the incredible amount of dissention, past Supreme Court opinions and the quality of arguments made against that infamous OLC opinion of 1973, it is all the more reason to believe that Mueller’s assertion that his failure to indict a sitting President is settled constitutional law was a very peculiar legal gaffe to make indeed.
The Republicans’ baseless accusations against Adam Schiff and their ridiculously tacky call for his resignation is not only “Grandstanding” of the worst kind but it is also the most vilest form of projection I have ever seen by one group of individuals in an attempt at projecting their own unapologetic twisted behavior onto somebody else. Not only is this an underhanded political maneuver on the part of these Republicans, it is also way beneath the integrity of even the most civilly debased political being that anyone might imagine can exist.
Adam Schiff, chairman of House Intelligence Committee, is way above the Republican’s dirty tricks. On Thursday, 3/28/2019, Schiff turned the tables on his accusers by highlighting the Republican’s own unethical behavior of not providing the proper oversight of their equally civilly absent President. Schiff convincingly outlined the evidence for collusion in his response to their inane request that dispels any myth that this evidence could ever be interpreted by anyone as “lies.”
Meanwhile these same Republicans fail to consider their own egregious misdeeds of participating in suspect memos tainted with political misinformation and running clandestine missions back and forth between the White House in order to contribute to the ample incidences of obstruction that has been made so public in its presentation by the President and his cast of Reality TV minions. The President’s `actions and the efforts by those in his campaign to coordinate with the Russians while, perhaps, not criminal under today’s laws as opinioned by the Attorney General, is still not OK. It also is certainly not OK for the President and his party line Republican soldiers to continue their vindictive, petty crusade of seeking revenge on their targeted political enemies who had every right to petition for an investigation into the odd behavior of this sitting President towards Russia and into the other strange choices this President has made.
This assertion is especially poignant when you consider that the President’s vindictive actions since the Attorney General released his summary report of the Mueller Investigation seem more representative of a Third World Country Dictator insecure in his own power than it is of a dignified American President who has any understanding at all of what it means to maintain even a minuscule measurement of integrity and decency. We need a return to civility and integrity. It should start with the President in a normal universe. Since that is an impossibility given this Reality TV Star’s DNA, we instead need more people of integrity like Adam Schiff in Washington to shut down and to call out those who apparently are absent any actual integrity of their own.
In the United States, since our very inception, we detest despots. This sentiment is clearly expressed in our Declaration of Independence: “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” So, I really have some questions about the trip a small delegation of lawmakers made last week to a country whose leader exemplifies despotism.
These are the names belonging to the delegation that went to Russia on July 4th, 2018: Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Thune (S.D.), John Kennedy (La.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), John Hoeven (N.D.) and Rep. Kay Granger (Texas). Instead of celebrating our country’s independence from a despot these seven government representatives decided it was better to patronize one in Russia. In general, it doesn’t really matter to me if the intent of this trip was to discuss the proof they had regarding Russia’s interference in our election nor does it matter much if they had any earnest warnings for Russia against trying the same thing in our 2018 elections. That could be done in other ways without having to go to Moscow. By engaging in a trip to Moscow now, there seems to me to be a high probability that it creates the perception that we (the United States) are just accepting Russia’s recent violations of international law.
Such a perception would amount to appeasement. We all know the result of the last time leaders of the Free World tried appeasement (reference Neville Chamberlain). Hint: it didn’t work out so well.
So, I think some real soul searching on the part of this delegation needs to be done but does this delegation also need to be reminded about who their host is? The leader of Russia is someone who is suspected of human rights violations, suspected of murder, attempted murder, has squashed expressions of freedom and, of course, attacked our own country by interfering in our elections. Putin is a leader who has invaded two other independent countries that led to portions of those sovereign states being removed from their sovereign control. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia then sponsored what amounts to puppet governments in the former Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2014, Ukraine was invaded by Russia where Russia simply annexed Crimea outright.
The worst part about the trip this delegation of US representatives made is that it occurred on the 4th of July, our Independence Day. This is a day where we should be shouting to the world in no uncertain terms that we will be free of despots, all despots. Therefore, if this delegation’s intention were not to make a complete mockery of our most patriotic holiday of the year where freedom rings loudest, it may have come close to doing just that despite what its intention truly may have been.
Coming January 20th at 6:00 AM PST/7:00 AM MST
Stay tuned for the Premier of “The Great American Presidential Apprentice,” the new world leader Reality TV show you don’t want to miss is coming this January 20th. As President-Elect he has nearly caused one international incident after another from China, to Japan, to NATO and then throwing in a Russian Hacking denial or two for grins, but he’s just getting started. Just wait until he becomes President on January 20th. Populist autocrats all around the world can’t wait either.
Watch as he fires Congress while his supporters cheer with glee. Then watch him fire the Supreme Court as they cheer some more. And then watch him fire the Constitution but not before steamrolling over the Bill of Rights amidst ever more louder cheers (even the beloved second amendment does not get a reprieve). In addition to his Constitution defacing antics, “Draining the Swamp” will take on a whole new Reality TV meaning as he successfully convinces us that he needs to fill up the swamp in order to drain it.
No Presidential Press Conference will be as much fun to watch as the ones he has planned for his “Press on Trial” segment. All those nasty people in the press corps will be put on trial and then, you guessed it, fired. Watch as he deflects attention away from questionable lawsuit settlements to some poor group of Broadway entertainers whose only crimes were that they asked that the rights of others be respected.
Watch as he dismantles your democratic institutions right before your very eyes, magically and then replaces your republic with a fiefdom. The White House will never be the same. In fact, it won’t be because it is being renamed. Henceforth, it is now, “The Great House.”
So, tune-in on January 20th! It will be like a having a Political Rally right in your very own living room! America will be great again!!! And, oh, by the way, he is also renaming America to the “United States of Greatness,” but, then, soon to be just, “Great, the Country,” because he intends to fire all the States too. Additionally, everyone must now salute the red, white and combed-over flag.
And, for all of you who belong to questionable faiths who should not be let into the country, don’t forget to wear your official state issued religious identification badges because, afterwards, you might win an all-expense paid trip to his new resort, “The Taj Mahal Luxury Internment Villas,” near the new wall site. And don’t pay any attention to those bellhops who look like armed guards. As long as you don’t go anywhere, they won’t bother you.
*Check local listings for availability and times (times may vary).
It really is beside the point whether the Russian hacking actually helped Trump win the election. I don’t think that the intelligence communities ever claimed that they had such evidence. The CIA, FBI and the other intelligence agencies repeatedly claimed that the evidence only showed that the Russians were responsible for hacking our computer networks and that this effort was intended to benefit Trump. Trump repeatedly denied that the Russians could be responsible; over and over again, doing as much as possible to cast doubt upon and discredit the various intelligence agencies at every chance he could. Now it appears that Trump might concede a little bit by acknowledging that maybe there was some hacking by the Russians but careful to qualify that this hacking didn’t help him win the election.
While it is difficult to quantify, it is not difficult to understand how the result of the collected hacked information appearing on WikiLeaks, each week a new set of hacked data presented during the campaign, kept negative attention focused on Clinton’s e-mail server scandal and alleged Clinton Foundation issues. It is difficult to argue that this did not have an effect on the election. But, even so, the not so easily quantifiable presumption that there may have been an effect on the election is distinct and separate from the election result itself which, obviously, is something we can easily quantify. So, absent other evidence, it could never really be argued that the election result is not valid based upon this presumption alone without a great amount of difficulty.
Regardless, Trump continues to put his self-interests above his country. If the President-Elect is unable to comprehend the duty he has to protect the security of his country even above his own interests, how can he be expected to protect its people and the democratic values our country holds dear? Is this really the type of characteristic we want in a President?
The fact that we have a President-Elect who is so insecure about his own election result that he would think the evidence that implicates that the Russians hacked our systems necessarily implies that his election result is invalid may be another indication of just how lacking in character and unqualified a President-Elect we have. Most normal statesmen (and/or stateswomen) would be more worried about protecting our country rather than protecting some less meaningful election result. The last President that might have been accused of having this much insecurity is Nixon.
Interestingly and similarly, that President also went to great lengths in his efforts to protect his 1972 election result even going as far as becoming involved in a conspiracy to cover-up a crime. It’s amazing how more things change the more they remain the same. So, if anyone had any doubts before, it’s pretty clear to me now where this Presidency is headed.