Tag Archives: rule of law

GOP collaborators in Congress aid and abet Trump’s obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation

While the news media was fixated on yet another mass shooting yesterday (“If it bleeds it leads“),  a more significant act of terrorism was occurring just miles away in the House Judiciary Committee, where Trumpkins in the ironically named House GOP Freedom Caucus (they are actually authoritarians who want an autocracy), were collaborating with the Trump legal defense team to defame the Department of Justice and the FBI, and aiding and abetting  Trump’s conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation.

These authoritarian Trumpkins are requesting to see the prosecutor’s evidence in an active ongoing criminal investigation of  the president and his associates, information they are not entitled to receive in the oversight function, so they can then turn that evidence over to Trump’s legal team and to selectively leak it to the GOPropagandists at FAUX News aka “Trump TV,” as they have already done with information the DOJ has previously inappropriately turned over to the committee under unprecedented threats from these authoritarian Trumpkins.

If the DOJ appropriately and lawfully refuses to turn over prosecutorial evidence in response to this improper subpoena, these authoritarian Trumpkins have set in motion a scenario in which Rod Rosenstein can be removed as Deputy AG, to allow Trump to appoint a loyalist stooge as Deputy AG, who will then terminate the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

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A referendum on democracy itself is on the ballot

Let’s be perfectly clear: if a Democratic president had done what Donald Trump is currently doing in foreign policy, that president would be the subject of an impeachment proceeding right now as we speak. Republicans would have drafted an article of impeachment for treason, without doubt. But as always, IOKIYAR.

David Leonhardt of the New York Times sums it up nicely. Trump Tries to Destroy the West:

President Trump is trying to destroy [the Western] alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

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GOP sabotage of ‘Obamacare’ now in the courts

The Trump administration in a brief filed Thursday night says that it will not defend the Affordable Care Act against the latest legal challenge to its constitutionality — a dramatic break from the executive branch’s tradition of arguing to uphold existing statutes and a land mine for health insurance changes the ACA brought about. Trump administration won’t defend ACA in case brought by GOP states:

In a brief filed in a Texas federal court and an accompanying letter to the House and Senate leaders of both parties, the Justice Department agrees in large part with the 20 Republican-led states that brought the suit. They contend that the ACA provision requiring most Americans to carry health insurance soon will no longer be constitutional — because The GOP Tax Bill Repealed Obamacare’s Individual Mandateand that, as a result, consumer insurance protections under the law (e.g. preexisting conditions) will not be valid, either.

The three-page letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions begins by saying that Justice adopted its position “with the approval of the President of the United States.” The letter acknowledges that the decision not to defend an existing law deviates from history but contends that it is not unprecedented.

The bold swipe at the ACA, a Republican whipping post since its 2010 passage, does not immediately affect any of its provisions. But it puts the law on far more wobbly legal footing in the case, which is being heard by a GOP-appointed judge [in what was a shameless case of forum shopping] who has in other recent cases ruled against more minor aspects.

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Resist normalizing criminal behavior in the age of Trump

This is not normal and should not be happening. Period. Full stop.

Today the FBI and intelligence agencies will provide a briefing in an ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russia to Midnight Run Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who previously had to recuse himself from his own committee’s Russia investigation because he was caught conspiring with the Trump administration to fabricate the conspiracy theories that the Obama administration surveilled Trump Tower and inappropriately unmasked the identities of Trump campaign officials picked up on signal intelligence to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation; and Trey “Benghazi!” Gowdy, who spent years promoting Benghazi conspiracy theories against Hillary Clinton that amounted to nothing according to the findings of his own committee reports. These are two of the least credible partisan members of Congress.

More importantly, this meeting is going to occur without the presence of their Democratic counterparts. This is entirely improper and unacceptable. Moreover, Trey Gowdy does not possess the necessary security clearance for this classified intelligence briefing (he is not a member of the Gang of Eight).

There is no doubt that this meeting is certain to result in Nunes and/or Gowdy selectively leaking cherry-picked classified intelligence (a crime) to FAUX News aka Trump TV as soon as today to support the new conspiracy theory of “Spygate,” a label that Trump and his propaganda machine have concocted in order to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Special Counsel should be considering charging them as accessories to Trump’s conspiracy to obstruct justice, which is what this briefing constitutes.

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The GOP’s war on the Department of Justice and the rule of law

When President Trump publicly demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of his campaign contacts with Russia, he crossed over a well-established bright line norm of constraint on executive power: The White House does not make decisions about individual law enforcement investigations. The independence of the Department of Justice is to be respected and preserved.

This is especially true when the president himself is the subject of a criminal investigation, or he would abuse the Department of Justice and use it as a weapon against his political opponents. This is what authoritarian despots do in a dictatorship or a banana republic.

This is precisely where the authoritarian Donald Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress are taking this country. They are engaged in the destruction of our long-cherished democratic institutions and norms, and the rule of law.

Charlie Savage writes at the New York Times, By Demanding an Investigation, Trump Challenged a Constraint on His Power:

“It’s an incredible historical moment,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School who helped write a coming scholarly article on the limits of presidential control over the Justice Department. Mr. Trump’s move, she said, “is the culmination of a lot of moments in which he has chipped away at prosecutorial independence, but this is a direct assault.”

Almost since he took office, Mr. Trump has battered the Justice Department’s independence indirectly — lamenting its failure to reopen a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton that found no wrongdoing, and openly complaining that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry. But he had also acknowledged that as president, “I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” as he told a radio interviewer with frustration last fall.

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Support Sen. John McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel at CIA

For the past several days the media has been consumed by the story that White House communications special aide Kelly Sadler joked in a staff meeting about Sen. John McCain’s opposition to President Trump’s nominee for the CIA, Gina Haspel: “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.White House official mocked ‘dying’ McCain at internal meeting.

While Kelly Sadler has called the McCain family to apologize privately, she has not been terminated nor has she or the White House publicly apologized for her comment. The Trump White House crossed a new threshold for political debasement this week:

U. S. Senator John McCain

The White House probably thinks it cannot punish Kelly Sadler for her awful comment about John McCain because President Trump has also said nasty things about McCain. It may worry that showing her the door would set a troubling precedent for a president who may one day cross a very similar line.

Welcome to the ongoing degradation of our political discourse. Destination: No end in sight.

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What happened this week is worse than most anything we have seen — worse even, I would argue, than Trump questioning McCain’s war hero status. What’s more, the White House is trying to ignore it, which means the bulldozer is pressing forward.

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Either because the White House is afraid of setting a standard Trump cannot meet or because Trump is demanding it hold the line against the media’s outrage cycle, it is serving notice there are more important things than Sadler’s public accountability: things like confidentiality and politics.

Case in point, Trump blasts the White House leakers as ‘traitors and cowards’:

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