Quantcast
Connect with us

Donald Trump’s latest and most dangerous assault on the rule of law

Published

on

- Commentary

The “rule of law” distinguishes democracies from dictatorships. It’s based on three fundamental principles. Trump is violating every one of them.

The first is that no person is above the law, not even a president. Which means a president cannot stop an investigation into his alleged illegal acts.

Yet in recent weeks Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who at least had possessed enough integrity to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Trump replaced Sessions with an inexperienced loyalist hack, Matthew G. Whitaker, whose only distinction to date has been loud and public condemnation of that investigation. As a conservative legal commentator on CNN, Whitaker even suggested that a clever attorney general could secretly starve the investigation of funds.

ADVERTISEMENT

There’s no question why Trump appointed Whitaker. When asked by the Daily Caller, Trump made it clear: “As far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had…. It’s an illegal investigation.”

The second principle of the rule of law is that a president cannot prosecute political opponents or critics. Decisions about whom to prosecute for alleged criminal wrongdoing must be made by prosecutors who are independent of politics.

Yet Trump has repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to bring charges against Hillary Clinton, his 2016 rival, for using a private email server when she was Secretary of State, in alleged violation of the Presidential Records Act.

During his campaign, Trump led crowds in chanting “lock her up,” called Clinton “crooked Hillary,” and threatened to prosecute her if he was elected president.

ADVERTISEMENT

After taking office, according to the New York Times, Trump told White House counsel Donald McGahn he wanted the Justice Department to prosecute Clinton. McGahn responded that Trump didn’t have the authority to do so, and such action might even lead to impeachment.

Yet Trump has continued to press Justice Department officials – including Whitaker, when he served as Sessions’s chief of staff – about the status of Clinton-related investigations.

Never mind that Trump’s senior adviser and daughter, Ivanka Trump sent hundreds messages on her private email server to government employees and aides that detailed government business, policies, and proposals. Or that other Trump officials have used their private email to conduct official business as well.

ADVERTISEMENT

Breaking the rule of law doesn’t require consistency. It requires only a thirst for power at whatever cost.

The third principle of the rule of law is that a president must be respectful of the independence of the judiciary.

Yet Trump has done the opposite, openly ridiculing judges who disagree with him in order to fuel public distrust of them – as he did when he called the judge who issued the first federal ruling against his travel ban a “so-called” judge.

ADVERTISEMENT

Last week Trump referred derisively to the judge who put a hold on Trump’s plan for refusing to consider asylum applications an “Obama judge,” and railed against the entire ninth circuit. “You go the 9th Circuit and it’s a disgrace,” he said. He also issued a subtle threat: “It’s not going to happen like this anymore.“

In an unprecedented public rebuke of a sitting president, John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, condemned Trump’s attack. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Trump immediately shot back: “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.” This was followed by another Trump threat: “Much talk over dividing up the 9th Circuit into 2 or 3 Circuits. Too big!”

ADVERTISEMENT

Almost a half-century ago, another president violated these three basic principles of the rule of law, although not as blatantly as Trump. Richard Nixon tried to obstruct the Watergate investigation, pushed the Justice Department to prosecute his political enemies, and took on the judiciary.

But America wouldn’t allow it. The nation rose up in outrage. Nixon resigned before Congress impeached him.

The question is whether this generation of Americans will have the strength and wisdom to do the same.

Share

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Accused child molester Roy Moore defends Brett Kavanaugh: ‘I too was the object of false allegations’

Published

on

Accused child molester Roy Moore on Wednesday came to the defense of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault.

Moore's remarks came after The New York Times published accounts from a new book, which found that two of Kavanaugh's accusers were credible.

In a statement to the press, Moore defended Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

"I too was the subject of false allegations, but unlike Justice Kavanaugh and others who have suffered the ire of the left, I filed suit against my accusers and their conspirators," Moore said. "For over two years, I have not seen nor been able to question any of those who went on national television tol tell their false stories just 32 days before the election in December 2017, and ironically I have been sued for defamation for merely denying their false and malicious accusations."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Obama knocks Trump for cable watching and tweeting

Published

on

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump’s violent rhetoric further illustrates what a weak coward he is: Yale psychiatrist

Published

on

On September 15th, President Donald Trump tweeted that America was "locked and loaded" to aid U.S. ally Saudi Arabia after reports surfaced that their oil supply was attacked.

"Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked," Trump tweeted. "There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!"

Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image