Many years ago, my sister-in-law, Linda, tried to teach me a new card game … I disremember what the game was, for I am not good at games and I likely never played it again after that night. She had a unique way, for she rather made the rules as she went. And, when I would try to play by the rules she had made five minutes earlier, she smacked my hand and said that no, that particular rule applied only to her, for she was sitting in the green chair, or some such nonsense. I gave up. That was a card game, and we laughed about it for years after.
But, when the man who claims the title of president defies the rules, tries to make his own and then change them again to suit his purposes, saying they really don’t apply to him, it is no laughing matter. An absolute monarch cannot be said to obstruct justice, for justice is whatever that monarch declares it to be. The president of the United States is not … I repeat NOT … an absolute monarch! We have a Constitution that is the foundation for the rules, not Donald Trump, and not his lawyers. Trump most certainly can be said to obstruct justice, and has, in fact, obstructed justice, more than once. Obstruction of justice is interference with the due process of law.
Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, says that Trump 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.” It seems to me that there is a difference between ‘expressing one’s view’ and breaking the law. Interesting, then, isn’t it that “Obstruction of Justice” was the first of three articles of impeachment against Richard Milhous Nixon in 1973?
According to FBI Director James Comey, Trump asked him to shut down the investigation against Mike Flynn. Comey refused. Shortly thereafter, Trump fired Comey, who was at that time leading the investigation into Russia’s interference in our election. Recently, Trump admitted to knowing that Flynn had lied to the FBI. How can any reasonable person not see this as obstruction of justice? Yet, Mr. Dowd claims that Trump cannot be said to have obstructed justice. Just how much more does he need, I wonder?
Then why, I would ask, did Trump’s own, hand-picked Attorney General, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, argue in 1999 when he was a senator from Alabama, that President Bill Clinton ought to be removed from office based on the argument that Clinton obstructed justice amid the investigation into his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky? “The facts are disturbing and compelling on the President’s intent to obstruct justice,” he said, according to remarks in the congressional record.
In addition to Sessions, there are 40 members of Congress still serving today who voted for Clinton’s impeachment or removal of Clinton from office for obstruction of justice. They include none other than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who mounted his own passionate appeal to remove Clinton from office for obstruction of justice – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who was a House member at the time. So … oh no, Mr. Dowd … you don’t get this one.
Constitutional experts Jonathan Turley of George Washington University and Daniel P. Franklin of Georgia State University both said Dowd’s argument isn’t completely without merit. According to Franklin …
“The president’s lawyer is overstating his case, but he has a point. The words of a president, not expressed under oath and not in the service of obstruction (for example, ordering subordinates to commit obstruction), are just words and not actions and, therefore, are not a crime.”
Turley said he disagrees with Dowd but that it is a “perfectly reasonable argument.” He agrees that it’s more difficult to prove obstruction when a president is acting as chief executive, but unlike Franklin, he said even those actions could theoretically be criminal.
In light of that, I cannot see how Trump firing Comey after asking him to drop the case against Flynn can be anything but obstruction. Are we splitting hairs here? Bob Bauer, a New York University law professor and former White House counsel to Barack Obama:
“It is certainly possible for a president to obstruct justice. The case for immunity has its adherents, but they based their position largely on the consideration that a president subject to prosecution would be unable to perform the duties of the office, a result that they see as constitutionally intolerable.”
Now, let me pose a question here. If he cannot be said to have obstructed justice, then why is he going to such lengths to throw up a smokescreen and change his story repeatedly? The smokescreen? Hillary Clinton. Once again beating that dead horse, his comments today were simply ludicrous with absolutely zero basis in fact.
“I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life and I feel very badly. Hillary Clinton lied many times to the F.B.I. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they destroyed his life.”
The truth is that after Ms. Clinton’s testimony, FBI Director James Comey recommended that no charges be filed and the case was closed. The FBI has never so much as intimated that Ms. Clinton lied. In fact, the FBI director told Congress that there was “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”
This is not the first time Trump has attempted to disregard or circumvent the law, but it may be the most important to date. The president is not above the law. He must be held accountable for his actions and words, for otherwise he is an autocrat, and our government no longer one “Of the people, by the people and for the people”. This is not how a democracy works. Donald Trump has, for nearly 11 months, had a nearly free pass, has been caught blatantly lying time and time again, to the point that I no longer believe a single word he utters. He has been accused of sexually abusing women, of cheating, and other behaviours and acts that have denigrated the office of the president. I think that it is past time for us to raise our angry voices, just as Trump supporters have been doing for two years and continue to do to this day, beating a dead horse. Instead of chants of “Lock him up”, I would settle for “Get him out!!!”