Friday, August 24, 2018

Why Not?

I keep hearing and reading that the Justice Department policy is that they can't (won't?) indict a sitting president.  If you Google the subject, you see articles on all sides of the issue.  NPR, on All Things Considered, did a nice dispassionate summary of the situation on August 22.  If I read the interview correctly, there's nothing in the Constitution, and there are no laws, which say this.  It's a very interesting discussion and I recommend you read it before going on.

Ailsa Chang interviewed Philip Lacovara, a lawyer who was counsel to the special prosecutors who investigated Watergate. Yes, this issue was discussed at that time, and they concluded that there was no constitutional bar to indicting a sitting president; they just didn't do it. I was delighted to read that Mr. Lacovara agrees with my totally instinctive reaction to this position:  this is a huge load of baloney.

To assume that the President can't be indicted says that the President is - above the law.  What really bothers me is that Brent Kavanaugh, the current SCOTUS nominee, agrees with this position, which is called the "unitary executive theory."  Here's how Mr. Lacovara summarized it:
It's the notion that all law enforcement resides in the president and that everybody else in the executive branch, including prosecutors, is essentially irrelevant. And the president, therefore, would in effect be prosecuting himself. And they think that that's a bizarre conundrum which the Constitution shouldn't allow.
This theory says the President isn't subject to the laws.  King George III would probably have agreed with that.  I'm sure Donald Trump agrees with that.  But I think the faint screams you hear in the background are the Founding Fathers, ranting and raving from whatever afterlife they are in.  I don't think they agree with that.

I thought we were a nation of laws. I thought we had 3 branches of government so that each branch could act as a check on the other two (Congress, are you listening to me?).  Congress doesn't want to know; the Republican leadership has been turning their collective eyes so far away from the emerging evidence about Trump that their necks are about to break.

As far as I'm concerned, the President is not above the law; and Mr. Lacovara agrees with me.  Here's how he concluded the interview:
The whole purpose of the Revolution and our Constitution was to treat officials of our government as different from the royal in England. And I think they would be astonished at the notion today that the president is somehow immune from criminal prosecution if he violates the norms that apply to everyone else.
If you haven't talked to your representative about opposing Kavanaugh's confirmation, do it now.  And remember all this when you vote in November.

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