Opinion: A dangerous turn in D.C.

Something dangerous has changed in Washington.

One of President Trump’s personal lawyers, John Dowd, is now arguing publicly that a president can’t be prosecuted for obstruction of justice because as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, the president decides what justice ought to be. In this case, the theory is that if Trump decides that his friend Mike Flynn should be immune from prosecution, as president he has the authority to make that happen and no one can interfere.

If Trump decides to shut down an entire criminal investigation into his own administration, even into his own actions, under Dowd’s theory he can do that too, if necessary by firing the FBI director or presumably even the special counsel.

Another of Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, makes a similar argument about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials: Even if it happened, even if Trump knew about and welcomed Russian help in the election, there’s nothing that anyone can or should do about it.

“For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated,” as Sekulow told The New Yorker. “There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion. There is no crime of collusion.”

And of course, former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz is all over cable TV these days, bolstering both arguments on behalf of Trump, much to Trump’s delight.

(As an aside, it is downright uncanny how often Dershowitz’s carefully thought-through, scholarly legal analysis happen to coincide with the fondest desires of cable news bookers. It’s one of those mysteries of the universe.)

In short, we are no longer debating whether collusion or obstruction of justice happened, but whether they are legal or whether something can be done about them. We are debating not the legitimacy of Trump’s actions, but the legitimacy of the investigation into such matters. The legitimacy of the people and agencies conducting the investigation is also under all-out assault by the president and his supplicants.

It’s pretty astonishing. We have a law-and-order president who in every other instance has cast himself as the stern defender of law enforcement, but in this instance is publicly attacking the integrity of the nation’s pre-eminent law-enforcement agency. This comes after Trump has also attacked the legitimacy of the nation’s top intelligence-gathering agencies.

And just so it’s clear: We have absolutely zero evidence that Clinton lied to the FBI. There is no plausible, fact-based allegation that Clinton lied to the FBI. All we have are some conservatives who very much want to believe that Clinton lied to the FBI, and a president eager to make their wishes appear to be reality.

They still are not reality.

By this point, Trump has now appointed the head of the FBI, the CIA and the Justice Department, and he still cannot force them to do what he wants because what he wants is against the law. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions has refused to open an investigation into Clinton, as Trump publicly demands, because he knows that he has no legal grounds on which to do so.

So far, in other words, the institutions of democracy are holding up. So far. But if you listen to the arguments being made and watch the pressures being exerted, both publicly and privately, you begin to realize that the real test of their structural soundness has yet to come, and it is likely to be seismic.

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2047 comments
Torri Davis
Torri Davis

Attempting to change the law TO fit the Crime■■■

Sara Dunn
Sara Dunn

Welp he just Proved just how good of a Lawyer that he is NOT!!!!

Rob Fine
Rob Fine

No one is above the law, no one period. This is not a dictatorship, yet.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Quit saying Flynn lied to Pence. Pence lied to us, he knew. End of story.

gotalife
gotalife

We are  still absent of real leadership.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Hey, y'all remember last year when I said Trump would lead the US down the path to war?   


Well, today's Jerusalem announcement is another step in that direction.


But don't take *MY* word for it: 

  • Speaking to reporters in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the “the situation is not easy.” He said Putin discussed the issue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Tuesday and expressed his concern about “a possible deterioration.” Peskov said, however, that the Kremlin would refrain from commenting a decision that has not been announced yet.
  • British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is calling on the U.S. administration to present a Mideast peace plan because the decision clearly “makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned Trump’s imminent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The state TV’s website quotes Khamenei as saying that “when they (U.S.) claim that they want to declare Jerusalem as the capital of occupied Palestine, it shows their inability. ”
  • China has expressed concerns over “possible aggravation of regional tensions” in response to the expected U.S. announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Geng Shuang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday the China would monitor developments on the issue.
  • Syria’s Foreign Ministry says Trump’s expected announcement to recognize of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “dangerous step” that will fuel global conflict. The ministry in Damascus issued a statement on Wednesday calling Trump’s imminent move the “culmination of the crime of the seizing of Palestine and the displacement of the Palestinian people.”
  • Two leading Lebanese newspapers have issued front page rebukes to Trump over his expected announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The An-Nahar compares the U.S. president to the late British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who a hundred years ago famously promised Palestine as a national home to the Jewish People, in what is known as the Balfour Declaration. The paper’s Wednesday headline reads: “Trump, Balfour of the century, gifts Jerusalem to Israel.”
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the “whole world is against” Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and eventually move the U.S. Embassy there. He says that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake.”
  • Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, writing as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Al-Quds Committee, also expressed his “deep personal concern” and “the great concern felt by Arab and Muslim states and peoples” over the moves in a letter to Trump Tuesday. “The current step is likely to negatively impact the prospects of a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” the letter said.
  • Pope Francis is calling for the status quo of Jerusalem to be respected and for “wisdom and prudence” to prevail to avoid further conflict. “I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts.”

Sources: The Associated Press; The BBC; Reuters; history.com

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@LogicalDude


its not going to hit home until the market tanks. that will be a dark day for us all.

gotalife
gotalife

Impeachment failed in the house as the dems start to act.


They can line up bills to be passed if they win and run on them.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

1980 Presidential candidate John Anderson has passed...

Paul42
Paul42

Well, let's see... Pope Francis has joined the growing worldwide chorus against Donald for his plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.   

Will Donald next embark on a tweetstorm questioning the Pope's morality and intellect?

Do I really have to ask?

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Paul42

Pope Francis already unpopular with Repubs. Trump will just re-affirm it. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

When will Americans get tired of telling lies, believing lies, supporting anger and meanness, and going along with any political or societal "game" as long as one can consider one's self a "winner"?

Surely, decadence will be rejected soon.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@MaryElizabethSings "decadence will be rejected soon." 


Not by the person at the top who seems to claim daily "It's good to be the king!" 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

You got that right! Trump is the King of Decadence. 💂‍♀️

Paul42
Paul42

Donald says a shutdown is a real possibility and if it does happen, guess what?  It's the Democrat's fault.

Poor guy.  He STILL doesn't know he's the (Republican) president and that BOTH the House and the Senate have Republican majorities.

Paul42
Paul42

"Sen. Al Franken's office said the senator will make a public announcement tomorrow amid mounting calls for his resignation.

Go deeper: More than a dozen senators came out against Franken Wednesday after a seventh woman accused him of sexual misconduct. Rep. John Conyers resigned yesterday over sexual harassment allegations."  (Axios)

Republicans have abandoned any pretense of standing on the moral high ground.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Paul42


I hope he listens and resigns. Somebody needs to lead by example.  Because you can be damn sure that neither President F---g Moron nor anyone in the GOP will. They're now - officially - the Party of Scum.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Paul42
Dems need to stop feeding into the circus.  The GOP is pushing them to self-destruct before the midterms.  That only helps the GOP avoid a bloodbath next November.

As long as the GOP is silent on Moore, Trump, and Farenthold, the Dems need to work on a solid legislative agenda and include harassment and sexual assault as part of their package.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@Eye wonder 

I disagree bro.  The Dems need to work on legislation, not feed into the GOP hyped circus.

Leading by example has gotten the Dems what exactly so far?

Fiscal responsibility by paying for legislation didn't work.

Cutting the deficit didn't work.

Saving American jobs didn't work.

Dems are getting farked over and keep hoping that Lucy will not yank the football again.

justaniceguy
justaniceguy

@Paul42 He needs to wait until next Weds to decide.

If p_ssy grabbing is ok for the oval office, and election to the senate is ok for a twice disgraced judge and a known pedophile, then stealing a few smooches here and there is perfectly ok...

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

You would see that match, first, elgrunir, with your verbal gifts. 🎈

elgrunir
elgrunir

Speaking of Newark:

There is enough concrete poured in the Hoover Dam to build a two-lane highway from ‘Frisco to New York.

At least we have I-80.

gotalife
gotalife

If you used power to grope women resign starting with trump.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Krugman tweet today on tax bill:

"The sheer incompetence of the tax scam's drafting could still kill it."

elgrunir
elgrunir

I think I just channeled honested.

Fly-On-The-Wall
Fly-On-The-Wall

@elgrunir republicans were too gleeful in trying to get as much as possible into their tax bill/scam.  So as usual they f**d it up.

elgrunir
elgrunir

“Drafting?”

A fetid draft is what passes for Republican “thinking” these days.