The decision by Attorney General Bob Barr to exonerate President Donald Trump from obstruction of justice charges -- despite the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller had specifically not done so -- has been decried by both liberal and even some conservative legal experts.
A New York Times report examining the fallout of Barr's summary of the Mueller report quotes some legal experts who fear that the high standards being set to establish criminal conduct by a sitting president are so strong that it effectively makes presidents into kings.
"They’re just trying to create a new kind of monarchy in the United States and have a president who’s not accountable,” said former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York Democrat who served on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment hearings.
Later in the article, Holtzman argued that protections against giving the executive branch too much power have been eroding for decades, and she warned that the precedents being set by Trump would tear down the few remaining guardrails we have left.
"What we tried to do in the wake of Watergate was control a president who had accrued excessive power," she explained. "And these reforms seem to be going by the wayside, and we’re seeing the consequences. It’s really a disastrous situation for our democracy."
Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor, similarly told the New York Times that we are heading down a path where presidents are totally immune from being restraints on their actions.
"The extremes we have gone to accommodate the president’s authority are a terrible precedent for going forward as a democracy built on separation of power and balance of powers," he said.