A Nation of Laws
We are a nation of laws. No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law. That fact was plainly recognized in 1974 when President Richard Nixon was forced to resign and subsequently received a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. Nonetheless, today we have a President, who by his own admission, has already obstructed the administration of justice in a criminal investigation and continues to take actions designed to forestall further investigation into the crimes he may have committed.
Despite the obvious nature of his indefensible intentions and actions, the duplicity and complicity of his supporters in his defense enable him to continue to make a mockery of the U.S. Constitution and a degradation of the office of the President of the United States.
The President’s Politics
You can disagree with his politics: tax cuts that benefit corporations and the top 1% of the population, impairment of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), harsh treatment of immigrants—legal and otherwise, removal of environmental and consumer protections or demeaning of international allies, but you must accept that as President, he is entitled to pursue them. So while you may believe that the actions he has taken and/or plans to take and his lies about virtually every subject he confronts are harmful to the country, they do not constitute a crime, at least not until made under oath to an FBI Agent or in a court of law.
The President’s Oath of Office
I emphasize the latter point because at his inauguration, Donald Trump made the following oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Has he lived up to that oath? He lies about and personally attacks anyone who disagrees with him, may have negative information about him or might be involved in the investigation of crimes he may have committed. That includes the free press, the intelligence community, the FBI and the Justice Department. Do these actions represent a faithful execution of the office of President? Not really, but do they represent Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors the Constitution stipulates as cause for removal from Office by Impeachment? In isolation, perhaps not, but they do not represent isolated instances. They are all designed, in one way or another, to delegitimize the investigation currently underway by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, or most optimistically, prevent its completion. And it is this action that creates the commitment of a criminal act.
Why the President is Obstructing Justice
Of course, it is reasonable to ask why is he doing this? Surely, if he has nothing to hide, the best course is to allow the investigation to proceed to a conclusion, at which point he would be exonerated. But it seems readily apparent that he does have something to hide, and it’s likely related to his Russian connection, even if it’s not collusion. Though there have been many clues that collusion is at the heart of the matter, I suspect it goes well beyond that, perhaps most significantly to money laundering in partnership with Russian oligarchs. If this were the case, there would be good reason for Trump to want to conceal it. Aside from sheer embarrassment, proof of money laundering presents the real possibility of a crime and prison. And because such action could be a state as well as federal crime, it limits the protection he might receive in the way of a pardon from a Vice President cum President Mike Pence were he to be impeached (like Nixon). And though much has been made of the Michael Steele dossier, which includes Trump’s appalling behavior with members of the opposite sex, I doubt that alone would cause him to take such obstructionist action.
The President Protects Russia
He refuses to accept the conclusion of all U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and will continue to so in 2018. He takes no action to protect the United States from Russian interference in future elections. He refuses to impose sanctions against Russia, approved overwhelmingly by both Houses of Congress and which, though under duress, he signed. He has never been critical of Russia in any way. In short, he has not taken the necessary action to protect the United States from further Russian aggression.
The President’s Sycophants
Despite the growing recognition by many in this country that the President of the United States is in the midst of obstructing an investigation of his potentially illegal relationship with Russia and has taken actions that are harmful to the interests of the United States, he continues to enjoy the support of an increasing number of sycophants in the Republican Party, particularly in the House of Representatives. The logical question is why? And the answer is two-fold. In their view, the end justifies the means, and not to support him could mean a challenge to their future political careers.
In Trump, Republicans see the means to accomplish important elements of their agenda. For some, it is tax cuts and reductions in spending on social programs. To others, it is Trump’s willingness to appoint pro-abortion judges. Not to support him is to invite his repeated promise to work against their reelection. But in their complicity, these supporters employ the same duplicity as the man they follow.
Representative Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Trump Transition Team, makes no attempt to hide the fact that far from determining how the Russians interfered in the 2016 election and how to stop them from doing so in 2018, he is more interested in protecting the President from the Special Counsel’s investigation. He evidently pays no heed to his oath of office to “. . . support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . bear true faith and allegiance to the same . . . and faithfully discharge the duties of the office . . .”
And where is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who permits Nunes to continue to hold his chairmanship despite his inappropriate and embarrassing actions on two separate occasions? By issuing memos purported to reveal conspiratorial and improper activities that would exonerate the President, only to be found replete with omissions and misstatements of fact, he is destroying trust in and by the country’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Yet Ryan does nothing.
And the complicity doesn’t end with politicians. Evangelical preachers, who in the past have taken a moral stand against those politicians with a history of sexual improprieties, have suddenly found Donald Trump an acceptable individual to support—a sinner who has returned to his faith—as long as he appoints judges who do not support abortion.
Not All Are Sycophants
Fortunately, there are some Republicans who do not buy into this game of duplicity and complicity when it comes to the attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice. I applaud Senator John McCain, who in speaking about these attacks said they “serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.” He blasted the President, stating, “if we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”…
It is a sad day for this country when its President is blatantly and openly obstructing justice. It is an even sadder day when we find those who have pledged loyalty to the Constitution are instead engaged in duplicity and complicity in defense of the indefensible.