Monday, December 4, 2017

Trump attorney claims Trump above the rule of law

"President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution's Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case," attorney John Dowd told  Axios."

Of course, this was Trump's attorney speaking, not the president himself. Besides, Trump not only expressed his opinion, he fired Comey, later stating he had the Russian probe on his mind at the time. Trump's recent tweet, allegedly written by his attorney, he fired Flynn because he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI has become another possible indication of his intent to obstruct justice since he knew Flynn had committed a crime of lying to the FBI and asked Comey to go easy on him.
Nonetheless, Dowd's comments  reminds me of Richard Nixon's famous 1977 interview with David Frost in the midst of Watergate, the last time a President overtly claimed his actions were above the law. ".when the president does it, that means it's not illegal". The issue over turning over the tapes that would incriminate him went to the US Supreme Court, which ruled that Nixon's privileges did not extend to this issue. The situation is different here, but if Watergate set the precedence was that Nixon was not above the rule of law.
Nixon's lawyers argued that this was a dispute between   parts of the executive branch over which he had control.  That did not fly.  The Court ruled that while the president had many powers, he could not claim that when other parts of the Constitution were involved, such as the right to a speedy trial. The facts are difference in Trump's case, but the principles are similar.  We do have a different balance in the Supreme Court, too,  with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch. It tilts right. If this ever ends up in the Supreme Court, who knows. Obstruction of justice was the prime charge  that resulted in the Watergate impeachment action.The same defense approach was tried by Bill Clinton in his House impeachment trial, and it, too, failed, though he was acquitted by the Senate for other reasons..

 More than likely, with the House in the hand of the GOP, and the House has to initiate the impeachment process, nothing will happen.  However, this could be the chief Democratic attack in 2018 that could result in a change in House leadership and a Democratic majority.  Aside from the pain certain constituents will feel due to the "tax reform" bill or the failure of "trickle down", I can see Democrats arguing if you want Trump impeached, vote for the Democrat standing for Congress and/or if you want to check the failed absolute rule of the GOP of all branches of government, vote Democratic.  All House seats are up for election in 2018 and there is a numerical chance the House could flip.  That chance does not exist for the Senate in 2018, because only one/third of seats, mostly Democratic, are up for grabs. However, 2020 could see a backlash in both the Senate and White House.

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