Opinion: A grave threat to the republic

(AP)

For weeks, President Trump has openly, publicly and energetically pressured the Justice Department to prosecute his political opponents, specifically Hillary Clinton. He has also expressed considerable anger at his handpicked attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for so far refusing to carry out those wishes.

“The saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump whined to a conservative talk-radio host earlier this month. “I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI.”

“I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department. Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her, the dossier?” Trump said, adding that he was “very unhappy” with where the Justice Department “isn’t going.”

“I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing,” he said. “And I am very frustrated by it.”

And when he’s frustrated, he turns to Twitter:

Trump’s right: He’s not supposed to be doing this. In this country, in the United States of America, in the world’s oldest democracy, politicians are not supposed to order criminal prosecution of their opponents. That may happen in some Third World country where the rule of law has yet to be established, but not here, and even the attempt represents a fundamental breach of law, decency and democratic norms.

Given that background, it’s more than a little worrisome that in a letter to Congress on Monday, the U.S. attorney general announced that he is now investigating whether to do as his unhappy president has demanded. According to the letter from Sessions, senior prosecutors in the Justice Department have been assigned to study whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate Hillary Clinton’s role in the sale of U.S. uranium reserves to Rosatom, a Russian company, and other matters as well.

As you might expect, putting the words “Hillary,” “Russia” and “uranium” into a single sentence is more than enough to send conservative hearts aflutter, especially since it serves as a counterpoint to the deepening investigation into Trump’s own ties to Russia. Republicans up the ante even further when they claim that individuals connected to the Rosatom deal contributed $145 million to the Clinton Foundation, suggesting corruption and even treason.

As Tucker Carlson on Fox News put it, “Why is it a good idea to give a hostile power 20 percent of our uranium supplies? It’s insane.”

“The Russians infiltrated our national security to corner the uranium market, and they succeeded,” charged Seb Gorka said. “If this had happened in the 1950s, there would be people up on treason charges right now. The Rosenbergs, OK? This is equivalent to what the Rosenbergs did, and those people got the chair.”

So it looks bad, right? Looks like Hillary’s going to get the chair?

Wrong. As Sessions himself told Congress today, “”I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel.” Instead, you need facts.

So let’s go to the facts:

— Most of that $145 million came from one man, Canadian Frank Giustra, who owned a global mining company and donated $131 million to the Clinton Foundation. That donation came in late 2005. In 2007, Giustra sold his entire share of the mining company to another Canadian firm. It wasn’t until 2010 that the second Canadian firm sold its holdings to the Russian company. So the GOP theory of the case requires you to believe that Giustra donated $131 million to the Clinton Foundation so that five years later, a company that Giustra hadn’t owned for three years could get a deal approved. Even in the universe of right-wing political conspiracy theories, that one’s pretty nuts.

— Russia didn’t get the uranium and can’t get the uranium. A Russia-based company might own it, but by law that material can only be sold here in America and only used here in America.  (A small share of that ore apparently has been shipped to our ally  Canada for purification, with the understanding that it is then returned to this country. The point is, Russia didn’t get it and can’t get it.)

— None of the uranium is needed for defense purposes, because the U.S. nuclear arsenal uses reprocessed nuclear material, not material from raw ore. In short, the ore has no strategic military significance and can never find its way into bombs.

— Twenty percent of American uranium production may sound like a lot, but it isn’t. The United States ranks ninth in the world in uranium production, producing 5 percent as much ore as Kazakhstan and less than 10 percent as much as Canada, which is our main source of uranium for energy needs. Twenty percent of not much is very little.

— The State Department, run by Clinton at the time, did have to approve the sale to Rosneft. However, the State Department was just one of nine U.S. agencies, including the Defense Department, Energy Department and Department of Homeland Security,  that unanimously agreed that the proposed sale had no strategic consequences, for reasons outlined above. There is no indication that Clinton played any role whatsoever in the approval process.

These are facts already on the public record and not in dispute. Yet these are also the facts that in the eyes of Trump and of Republican members of Congress somehow demand criminal prosecution. Congressional Republicans who spent tens of millions of dollars chasing but never catching Clinton using the investigatory powers of congressional committees now want to target her using the immense powers of the Justice Department, even with no solid grounds for doing so.

It is plausible — and I hope even likely — that the letter from Sessions to Congress promising to study the possibility of a second special counsel is just an effort to placate the noisy, to ensure Trump and others that these charges have been looked at and determined to be groundless. As that letter pointedly promises, “the department will never evaluate any matter except on the facts and the law. Professionalism, integrity and public confidence in the department’s work is critical for us, and no priority is higher.”

If that promise is kept, if politics and presidential grandstanding are ignored by professionals applying professional prosecutorial standards, we’ll be fine. If it is not, then the poison that it injects into the American system of government could prove fatal to the credibility on which that government stands.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

2130 comments
Summer Smith
Summer Smith

The AJC and Bookman....A grave threat to our communities with their continuous fake news and socialist communist views.....

Clark A. Scates
Clark A. Scates

When you disguise Racism and nationallism by calling them , it conservatism, this is always the outcome.

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

AG Sessions is a good man and the pedophiles in Washington and media are on the run.

Andy Smith
Andy Smith

A liberal reporter at mullet wrapper covering for a liberal crook. The rule of law demands all who break the law stand before the dock of Justice, including liberal politicians who think they are above the law. Let a jury decide!

Keith Dyar
Keith Dyar

And yet Obama did it and had the IRS on the TEAparty before that. Hillary needs investigated Uranium One needs investigated and personally I have to question why Sessions hasn't already moved on this without being instructed.

Sam Crenshaw
Sam Crenshaw

Let me get this right. I want to make sure I understand...This guy gets a paycheck from the AJC, a newspaper where people go to get their *news*, for simply enunciating his opinions on political issues, when said opinions are *always* absolutely predictable as being from one far edge of the political spectrum? How does such a thing service the readership of a newspaper? Wouldn't it be much better to hire someone with an open minded, objective view on things to explain to people who aren't schooled in the issues the pros and cons from different viewpoints instead of writers who will always twist facts, exaggerate and construct things so as to mislead people into believing agenda-driven *opinions*, no matter what side of the political spectrum they're coming from? Wouldn't that better serve the public good?

John Reed
John Reed

Does that mean opponents are free to break the law?

Brenda Whitley
Brenda Whitley

Says one that is bought and paid for by the clintons.

Marsha Kay
Marsha Kay

Attempting to prosecute political opponents... isn't that what the Dems are doing to Roy Moore right now?!?!?

Tom Taylor
Tom Taylor

NEVER BELIEVE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS THEY HAVEN'T HAD A HONEST POLITICIAN SINCE JFK. HE WAS COMPLETELY CLEAN BUT HE LOVED AMERICA UNLIKE THIS CESSPOOL OF BIGOTS IN OFFICE TODAY.

YouLibs
YouLibs

Just to make it an even three thousand...

elgrunir
elgrunir

Evangelics care not of Trump’s sinning

And they join right on in with his spinning

Bag your dumb theory

Please answer this query:

Just when do we start all the winning?

elgrunir
elgrunir

Y’all could use a Trump limerick.

rimsky
rimsky

 “If I would have just retaliated, in defense, I would be in jail right now and that’s one thing I knew, being a large black African American man in America, I would have immediately be seen as a thug, but I’m not a thug,” he said.

Venit, who has been placed on leave at WME, has not publicly addressed Crews’ allegations. Neither he nor WME has responded to HuffPost requests for comment.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/terry-crews-names-abuser_us_5a0c3a67e4b00a6eece57803?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

I am glad his wife was with him.  I like Crews.

LilRichie
LilRichie

In the latest news, Chump wants the three UCLA players to thank him for their release. He probably told the Chinese president to do him a favor so this'll show "The Blacks" that he's not all against us.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@LilRichie Thank me! THANK ME!  My life has so little worth, I need thanks!  I do something and I need attention!  THANK ME OR ELSE!

-Trump

Peachs
Peachs

Northam California another nut job gets a gun. Why ban ISIS when we distribute simiautomatics to mental patients. Who knows maybe one of these might accidentally kill the other trying to kill us!

honested
honested

@LogicalDude 

In wrong wing circles, it is now appropriate to blame one's economic situation on the 'beliefs' of others.

Carry on.

rimsky
rimsky

@LogicalDude The guy blew off the mood of the country which was apparent from last week's election.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@honested @LogicalDude While in your circle it is appropriate to blame one's economic situation on the amount of money complete strangers might have.

rimsky
rimsky

@Fly-On-The-Wall @rimsky @LogicalDude If you live in Atlanta you have lots of choices.  My favorite is a pizzeria in the CNN building.  Pricy but it is a treat.  My son got one a year ago when I brought him home for a weekend for home cooking.

justaniceguy
justaniceguy

Tiny Dog and JReb trying to figure out why those people play so much basketball again?

rimsky
rimsky

@justaniceguy About 5 years back Harlem Glob Trotters played in our town.  99% of the crowd was white and packed house too.  I was glad I ordered the tickets in advance.  Game day they were sold out.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

I prefer soccer.  The US has one of the most diverse teams in the world.  However, coaching has failed the last couple of years and the most powerful country in the world couldn't field a few guys to make it to the 2018 World Cup. 


Maybe US Soccer should move into the 21st century with its coaching and developmental systems.  (Looking at you U-17, U-20 and U-23 folks.)


Klinnsman I thought would be a good coach, but I think there was a misunderstanding between philosophies of most players and his coaching style.  Plus, he left (best player and team captain) Donovan out of World Cup 2014, which was just unforgivable. 

I also thought bringing Galaxy Bruce Arena back was moving backwards, not forwards.  That turned out to be true. 


Look at the success Atlanta United has had in just its first year. What did it do right? 

How about doing some of the same at the US level? 

(sorry not sorry for semi-off topic rant.) 

rimsky
rimsky

@LogicalDude  most powerful country in the world couldn't field a few guys to make it to the 2018 World Cup. 

Any consolation Italy is out too.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@rimsky @LogicalDude nah. Don't know what Italy's problems are but they are in a highly competitive area with many of the top 10 teams in the world. US? We should only worry about Mexico and Costa Rica, and beat everyone else easily. EASILY. 


That we didn't even do that much speaks volumes. 

rimsky
rimsky

@Finn-McCool Chump telegraphed the value of the property.  What a great businessman.   sarc

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Finn-McCool CAH guys really know how to get things done in the 21st century. 


"Hey guys! Buy nothing so we can give our employees a day off!" 

"Hey guys! We're doing something good to slow down stupidity!" 

Tim Key
Tim Key

Why something to hide

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

"SNC has been repping for you in your absence. Seriously repping!!"

I've always liked her!! Glad to know she has my back! Or in the vernacular, "You go girl!"