Thoughts On ‘Executive Privilege’ …

Donald Trump has invoked ‘executive privilege’ more than any other president, though all have used it to a lesser extent.  Just in the past month, Trump has used it to keep a number of people from answering subpoenas by various congressional committees trying to find answers to some very important questions.  Yesterday, he used it to claim that Congress and the public would not be allowed to see the un-redacted version of the Mueller report.  Most of us are scratching our heads and asking, “Can he do that?” 

Executive privilege is defined as “the right of the president and high-level executive branch officers to withhold information from Congress, the courts, and ultimately the public.”  It is not a right that is spelled out in the Constitution, but rather was defined by the Supreme Court when it ruled that it is “fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.”

Executive privilege can be asserted for one of two reasons: for national security needs, and for “protecting the privacy of White House deliberations when it is in the public interest to do so.”  Now, at issue here is whether Donald Trump can be said to have known about and welcomed the Russian intrusion into the 2016 presidential election, and more likely, did Donald Trump attempt to interfere with the investigation into said Russian interference?  Neither, at this juncture, qualify as ‘national security’ issues, so that leaves the second reason.

“Protecting the privacy of White House deliberations when it is in the public interest to do so” is rather open to interpretation. Is it in the ‘public interest’ to keep us in the dark and allow Trump to get by with having broken the law? My own opinion is that transparency is in the public interest, that the public has both a right and a need to know the truth.  Just as Nixon’s assertion of executive privilege was widely seen as self-serving and against the public interest, most of us believe that Trump’s repeatedly invoking it makes him look guilty of far more than even Nixon.

If I sidle past you with my hands behind my back, you ask what I’m hiding, and I say “nuffin” then run quickly past and into my room, slam the door and lock it, you’re going to be pretty darn suspicious, right?  Trump has been caught with his hands in the cookie jar and he is trying very hard to hide it.  So … back to the question at hand:  Can he do that?

Is it in the public interest?  No.  It is in the interest of Donald Trump as he wishes to remain in office, for he is enjoying the power of the office, the free jet-setting all over the world, and financial benefits for his businesses.

President Nixon’s abuse of the privilege made future presidents leery of it, and even when he was facing the Iran-Contra investigation during his second term, President Ronald Reagan decided against asserting executive privilege, agreeing instead to provide much of the requested information to Congress.  President Bill Clinton attempted to invoke executive privilege during the investigation into his affair with Monica Lewinsky but was ultimately overruled.

Just as Richard Nixon used executive privilege in an attempt to cover his guilt, there can be no doubt that Trump is doing the same … the proof is in what we already know of the Mueller report.  However, as the courts struck down Nixon’s claim, they are not as likely to do so with Trump’s.  Why?  Attorney General William Barr.  The Justice Department under Nixon refused to pander to the president’s whims and instead held him accountable.  Why do you think Jeff Sessions was fired?  Why do you think Rod Rosenstein is resigning?  And why do you think Trump nominated, and the Senate confirmed, William Barr so quickly?  Why do you think Trump encouraged Justice Kennedy to retire and then the Senate was in such an all-fire hurry to put Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, despite credible allegations of sexual abuse?  Trump knew that Mueller’s report would open the doors to congressional investigations and he was pre-covering his bases.

In U.S. v. Nixon in 1974, President Richard Nixon was ordered to deliver tapes and other subpoenaed materials to a federal judge for review. The justices ruled 9-0 that a president’s right to privacy in his communications must be balanced against Congress’ need to investigate and oversee the executive branch.  That was then, and this is now … Nixon thought he would not be caught and didn’t have time to prepare in advance.  Trump knew he was caught and rushed through terminations and nominations to cover his patootie even before the Mueller report saw the light of day. Remember how Trump’s lawyers refused to let him testify before Mueller’s team, for they knew he would lie and incriminate himself even further.

Now, that is not to say that Trump will not ultimately have his feet held to the fire, but it is likely to be sometime next year before that happens, as I suspect this will work its way up through the court system along with other issues.  I also suspect it is more of a delaying tactic than anything.  Think about it … right this moment, we are furious, and this is the hot topic.  As other things take over the headlines in the media, as our attention is directed elsewhere, how likely are we to stay focused on Trump’s abuse of ‘executive privilege’?

I keep hoping that somebody … Don McGahn, Robert Mueller … somebody will have the guts to stand against Trump and volunteer to testify and provide whatever documents are in their possession.  Yes, it could result in a jail sentence, but … isn’t someone willing to put this nation and its well-being ahead of their own self-interest?  Trump for damn sure isn’t.

46 thoughts on “Thoughts On ‘Executive Privilege’ …

    • I was reading about that earlier today … it evoked a low growl and a few expletives. Hopefully all but his foolish base will boycott the “festivities”. I almost wish even the media would boycott it and focus their attentions elsewhere. Perhaps we should hope for thunderstorms that entire day?

      Like

  1. Ok. So I see that everyone wants to sweep Obama’s wrongs under the carpet. No wonder 2020 is going to be rough again for the Democrats. I normally agree with about 70% of what is written in this blog. But I can look at things as a person in the middle. I did not vote for Trump and I sure as heck didn’t vote for Hillary. Why doesn’t anyone talk about where this charade al started? How did Obama’s AG get a FISA warrant, based on a false dossier? That to me is more worrisome than what’s happened since. No one person said anything about Russia till Hillary in the last debate. Seems to me, she was already setting up the excuse for her losing. Of course the Democrats ran with it. The Mueller report, again, was started on false information. It’s done with now, he found no collusion. That’s a fact. Now to the obstruction of justice, he decided to let Congress decide that. I do see that, but my belief is that if you’re going to impeach, DO IT, or shut up about it. That will give Trump 2 years to make himself look like the victim, which will probably garner more support and votes. Why is that so hard to see? The Democrats in the House need to start legislating and quit investigating, if they want the party’s candidate to have a better chance to unseat Trump. Or it will be 2016 all over.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nobody is sweeping anything under the carpet, but what happened nearly a decade ago is not the topic at hand. The topic at hand is whether Trump is abusing his power by invoking executive privilege to keep even private citizens from providing information to an investigation … a very legitimate investigation … into his own criminal behaviour in obstructing, or attempting to obstruct justice. Don’t fall into the trap the republicans love to use of “whadabout-ism”. We aren’t discussing what may or may not have been right or wrong in 2012 under President Obama, nor about whether Bill Clinton had the right to withhold information from a congressional inquiry, nor whether Nixon was within his rights. We cannot change history, but we can debate what should be done to preserve the democratic processes … the few that remain … from a madman in the Oval Office.

      No, the Mueller report is not a result of ‘false information’ and has clearly presented at least 10 instances where Don Trump abused the power of his office. The roadblock to impeachment is the likes of Mitch McConnell and Warren Davidson and others who are governing to their own benefit rather than to that of the nation. That said, I am all for it … impeach or assassinate the son-of-a-bitch … I don’t really care which, just get the madman out of office before he starts World-fucking-War III!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Trump is already making himself look like a victim, witch hunt indeed! Exonerated? Only in his mind. Executive privilege? Let’s call a worm a worm. (Sorry, real worms!) How about elitist privilege? Or imaginary privilege! The only kind of executive he is, is an executive asshole.
      But if you don’t like the guy, why are you defending him so avidly? 90% of the world hates this man, and fears what he might do. He is the most dangerous man alive today! But he cannot do anything on his own, he needs others to carry out his obscene manuevers, if you know what I mean. Yet he gives America’s sworn enemy the keys to the computer programs. He could not have won the 2016 election without Putin’s help, but big deal. Nothing is amiss!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Alot of shady stuff went down in the 2016 election. Political impropriety from both sides, Hillary was no angel and neither was Trump. The simple reason that Trump out campaigned an ailing sickly woman who could barely stand, let alone attend her own rallies, has been overlooked in the post election analysis. Trump lied his ass off to desperate low income citizens in order to gain their votes. He delivered the opposite by enabling tax cuts for the rich.
      Now that Trump’s dirty tricks & lies have been exposed, the upcoming election should show a different outcome. The only possible way Dems could lose is if they interfere in their own primary by blackballing Bernie, Gabbard from speaking on the debate stage. The ppl want to hear real issues, not corporate talking points from establishment puppets like Harris or Biden.
      This video from Bernie says all:
      https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/05/09/bernie_sanders_i_can_defeat_trump_by_exposing_him_as_the_fraud_that_he_is.html

      I agree that Trump will try to weasel his way to victory by playing the victim of an unjust witchhunt going into the election, but it won’t work. He’s so transparent who among his supporters would fall for it twice?

      Like

  2. I have long said, beginning in November of 2016, that this country is headed to a place that we will not want to go. Although there is no consolation in saying this, I was right and it appears that we are living in that very place. The only question that remains…what are we going to do about it? Congress and the courts are bursting at the seams with Trumpcophants, so where does that leave us? We keep hoping and trying to believe that November 2020 will end this nightmare, but more and more that seems a dubious eventuality and more importantly begs the question…can we afford to wait? I have to a point agreed with Nancy Pelosi’s stance on impeachment and the likely outcomes given the Republican held Senate. But I ask, what other alternative remains? I truly wish that I knew the answer and a way forward that would trump Trump in the here and now…does anyone? One of the many newsletters that I receive is from the Boston Globe’s Michael A. Cohen “Truth and Consequences”. The first piece today is about Joe Biden, interesting and informative, but it is the second piece titled : “Are you impeachment worthy?” that gave me pause to consider his thoughts on the matter. I’m not yet convinced and may never be so, but again I ask…what other alternative remains? Answers please?! Delighted to find you back amidst my inbox! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahhhh … you want answers and yet, I have none, only more questions. There is Amendment 25, but that would require Pence and a majority of Trump’s hand-picked cabinet to agree that he is ‘unfit’ to fulfill the duties of his office. In truth, and I do not say this lightly, our best bet at this point is an assassin. I truly believe that if he feels, if the polls show, that he is unlikely to win next year, he will find a way to call off or postpone the election. Or, perhaps the election will take place, but if he loses, he will do as Erdoğan is doing in Turkey and proclaim the election tainted, calling for a new election. He is like baked-on food and will need to be forcibly removed if this nation’s democratic ideals are to survive, for I believe he will never go willingly. The good news is his age and his hedonistic lifestyle, but still, he may outlive us all. Sorry I don’t have answers, my friend. Sigh.

      Like

  3. Great piece, as usual Jill. And here’s the thing also about him declaring executive privilege….did he not already grant Mcgahn the right to testify to Mueller? I mean, if he waved EP then, how can he invoke it now? As you said, this is nothing but a stalling tactic. Much to my chagrin, this will have to play out in the courts. Holy crap, can we put this thing on a fast-track? I know…wishful thinking!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jeff! Yes, that’s exactly the argument … McGahn testified before Mueller’s team, but now Trump refuses to let him follow up. Trump apparently fails to understand that McGahn’s testimony already dug his (Trump’s) hole a bit deeper. His refusal to let McGahn testify before Congress makes you wonder what more there is that he didn’t tell Mueller. Yeah, my friend, wishful thinking. I’m thinking that it will stay tied up in the courts all the way until next year’s election.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Jill,as an Independent and former Republican voter, I have shared with my two Republican Senators I see a clear and present danger to our democracy with this regal-minded President. The denigration of legislators of all parties, world leaders, media, public servants, institutions and our constitution are damsging in my view. With 10,000 lies and counting, it frustrates me when he sets policies off misinformation. It concerns me, as I don’t know of he is telling the truth about China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, Russia, etc. He may be, but the odds are he is not.

    It is hard enough to govern when we use facts, yet it is much more difficult when we don’t. We must hold this man accountable, as we do all leaders – and people are impacted when we don’t. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • I completely agree … we can no longer believe what we are told from the top, and most people don’t know how, or are to lazy to, dig for the truth. And the republicans in Congress are giving him a free pass, which I still don’t fully understand. As you said, the odds are that if he says it, it is not true. I used to be called an ‘alarmist’ when I said he was working toward placing himself in the position of a dictator, but these days I don’t hear that so much, as people are seeing the truth … all except Trump’s base, that is.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Google President Obama, Eric Holder, Operation Fast and Furious. That is a bigger abuse of Executive Privilege than this is. People actually died as a direct result of Fast and Furious. Only thing here is the Democrats feelings got hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed it does! The word ‘patriot’, however, has taken on a whole new meaning in recent times, and these days you are only considered a ‘patriot’ if you support Trump and all his policies. Otherwise, one is called “the enemy”. Sometimes those of you who don’t live here have a clearer understanding than those of us who literally “can’t see the forest for the trees”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know what I hate? Those bloggers who worship the dumbpy orange wonder, but refuse to allow comments on their blogs so it looks like everyone agrees with what they say. While they are actually smart to do that, it makes it obvious they are cowards!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree. I don’t always like what someone says, but as long as they don’t disrespect me or my readers, I let it stand and usually try to respond. How are we to ever understand each other if we don’t even listen to what the other side says, after all?

          Like

  6. This man is only President of the States of America he likes and even then doesn’t seem to much for them. Ask his States to secede from the Union so you can find a person fit to govern and Trump can stay as Dictator of his own very small country.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are right, of course, in that he doesn’t see his responsibility as being to the 330 million people, but only those who like him. And even then, he doesn’t see it as a responsibility to them, but rather they are pawns, tools to help him stay afloat. If only it were so simple, as it was in the first half of the 19th century, to geographically divide the trumpeters from the rest, then I would be all for your idea. Sadly, there are some who adore him in every state, and more who despise him in every state. On my own short street, there are two who are pro-Trump … sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

      • The pro-Trumpers can move to his new country happy they have the right dictator and the anti-Trumpers can move out and join you civilised people.Maybe you’ll even form a new legitimate opposition to the Democrats that still has the care of people as it’s main interest.
        Cwtch

        Liked by 1 person

        • Just between us, I would willingly give up the southern states to the Trumpeters … they can have Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and even Texas and Louisiana! I might even then support the building of a wall along the Mason-Dixon line to keep the undesirables out of our nation. Sigh. But we both know it ain’t gonna happen. This nation will suffocate itself and if we’re lucky, some other nation will take us over while we bicker with each other.
          Cwtch

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I keep saying it. It feels increasingly like an xfiles script. Every new scene brining more smoke, mirrors ad diversions. The longer it goes on it becomes more likely the house of cards in the middle will remain standing but everything else will have toppled over. In the U.K. we keep saying May is so deluded, out of touch and incompetent that she has to fall. But days became, weeks became years. She is still here while the country falls apart. Both countries need a Mulder and Scully so badly.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. The man (is he a man?) is immoral, a liar, a bully, a back stabber…. I wonder sometimes, if he is the Bible’s Antichrist.. Certainly fits the bill. He certainly seems indestructible against all the odds. 😕

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Trumpelstiltskin should just plead guilty to collusion and tax fraud, and save the country time and money. Let him ingore all the subpoenas he wants, including his tax returns. But if he fights these accusations, and refuses to respond, he should be found guilty in absentia, and sentenced to at least 2 life sentences, to be served consecutively.
    In the old days witches were drowned, and if they died they were innocent, but if they survived they were witches. The same kind of logic should be used here.

    Liked by 3 people

I would like to hear your opinion, so please comment if you feel so inclined.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s