Friday, May 3, 2019

Marching Towards Constitutional Crisis

Let us be clear: Robert Mueller found ample evidence that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice on numerous occasions. He fully detailed that evidence in his (redacted) report. That he did not then go forward with formally indicting Trump was not because “he could not reach a conclusion” – as claimed by AG William Barr’s misleading “summary memo” of a month ago. Rather, it was solely due to the DOJ’s old internal POLICY (not law or regulation) that – regardless of the crime or evidence thereof – a “sitting president” cannot be indicted. As an employee prosecutor in the Department of Justice, Mueller was obligated to abide by that policy, regardless of his findings. The unavoidable conclusion is that Trump’s conduct – if he were any other common citizen – would most certainly be criminally indictable if he were not the current President.

Concurrently, given his handling and release of the Mueller Report itself, its conclusions, and the undisclosed ongoing criminal investigations still in process, William Barr has lost any remaining shred of credibility regarding his follow-up to Mueller’s investigation. He has made blatant efforts to whitewash the President’s actions, and has misled (and lied to) Congress and the American public regarding his interpretation of, and personal actions regarding, the legal issues and processes involved. Even more significant and damaging, he has shown himself to be unable (or unwilling) to maintain the politically neutral and objective independence of the DOJ and FBI that is so critical to their effective functioning – and so critical to the trust Americans have in their top law enforcement agencies and officials.

The Executive Branch of our government is now being led by people with no respect for either the letter or the spirit of our Constitution, the law, legal process, and precedence. Rather, they act with a consistent arrogance that they are above the law, and the rules do not apply to them. They alone know what is best; they are free to act as they choose. It is an attitude that is the firm belief of the President himself. It is, in turn, a corrosive virus that ensnares and engulfs those ethically lesser individuals who come under the spell of the President’s influence.

Today, lying by government officials is taken as a normal, everyday event. White House and agency officials arbitrarily defy requests to give testimony to legitimate Congressional committees. Lobbyists, industry representatives, and unqualified personnel with minimal-to-no expertise are appointed to hold public offices. As a result of an unambiguous attack on governmental order and restraint, we are now mere steps away from a Constitutional Crisis unprecedented in our national history. Even for a country with a long history of self-serving political argument, we are entering a unique and extremely dangerous time for the very meaning of our always-fragile American democracy.

Meanwhile, for the sake of holding on to their party’s power, Republican Congresspersons sit idly by and say nothing publicly. (This in spite of what they said in 2016 about a potential Trump presidency, and the reality they acknowledge today behind closed doors). They say nothing while ignoring what they said regarding Democratic President Barack Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder. For a political party that has traditionally claimed to be the “law and order / Constitutional defender,” their hypocrisy rings loud and clear. They say nothing, even as the integrity and coequal role of Congress itself slowly dissipates and slips away. Power not Right, Self-interest not Principle, are the motivators.

Our country was founded by creative and visionary giants who, in spite of their ethical shortcomings and political self-interests, responded to a higher need at a difficult and critical moment of their times. Today, where are the successor statesmen/stateswomen in this moment when they are so badly needed?

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.”   Jesus

©   2019   Randy Bell