A pres­i­dent in great peril: Com­ment,

Irish Independent - - Front Page - Jen­nifer Ru­bin

US PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump and his sur­ro­gates – most es­pe­cially the Fox News line-up (which in­cludes a fleet of con­ser­va­tive pun­dits who dis­grace them­selves by fa­cil­i­tat­ing a po­lit­i­cal dis­trac­tion game for Trump), ob­se­quious Repub­li­cans in Congress, old al­lies such as Roger Stone (who wound up get­ting banned by Twit­ter) and the talk ra­dio crowd – have been fran­ti­cally fan­ning Hil­lary Clin­ton non-scan­dals about Ura­nium One (it was base­less be­fore and base­less now) and the dossier’s fun­der. (Fu­sion GPS ini­tially was hired by the con­ser­va­tive Free Bea­con, which at one time claimed not to know the iden­tity of the Repub­li­can out­fit that first hired Fu­sion.)

The un­hinged rants from Trump’s de­fend­ers de­mand­ing Clin­ton be locked up for one or both of th­ese re­veal how tightly Trump and the right-wing ecosys­tem that sup­ports him rely on Clin­ton as an all-pur­pose dis­trac­tion.

Upon a mo­ment’s re­flec­tion, the non­scan­dals make no sense (Clin­ton was col­lud­ing with Rus­sia to beat her­self in the elec­tion?), have been de­bunked be­fore and in no way af­fect the li­a­bil­ity, if any, of cur­rent or ex-Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion fig­ures.

This is “whataboutism” run amok. It does ex­pose the de­gree to which

Fox News has given up the pre­tence of a real news or­gan­i­sa­tion, pre­fer­ring the role of state pro­pa­gan­dist. (And it’s not just the evening hosts; the non-scan­dals now mo­nop­o­lise the rest of the sched­ule.)

The in­ten­sity of Trump’s frenzy un­der­scores the peril in which the pres­i­dent now finds him­self.

Beyond the in­dict­ments un­sealed yes­ter­day morn­ing, Trump does not know what spe­cial coun­sel Robert S Mueller III has un­cov­ered; which wit­nesses are flip­pable; what fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments have re­vealed about the Trump busi­ness em­pire; and whether, for ex­am­ple, Mueller finds sup­port for an ob­struc­tion of jus­tice charge from Trump’s own pub­lic dis­sem­bling (eg. hint­ing at non-ex­is­tent tapes of for­mer FBI direc­tor James Comey).

For some­one who in­sists on hold­ing all the cards and in­tim­i­dat­ing oth­ers, Trump finds him­self in a uniquely pow­er­less po­si­tion.

As I have ar­gued, Repub­li­cans should be say­ing pub­licly that ef­forts to fire Mueller and/or par­don in­dicted fig­ures will com­mence im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings. Those moves would set off a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis in which the pres­i­dent is us­ing his pow­ers to pro­tect him­self from the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Even for­mer sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum con­cedes that it would be “very per­ilous” for Trump to fire Mueller.

RIGHT now that is a the­o­ret­i­cal ques­tion, but given how rat­tled Trump seems to be, we shouldn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity. It is in­cum­bent on me­dia in­ter­view­ers to ask Repub­li­cans if that is their po­si­tion and if not to jus­tify giv­ing a green light to what would be an un­prece­dented scheme to pro­tect him­self from in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ap­pear­ing on ABC’s ‘This Week’, the rank­ing Demo­crat onthe House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, Con­gress­man Adam Schiff, ar­gued: “Now, I don’t think the pres­i­dent’s power is all that ab­so­lute, as peo­ple have been sug­gest­ing. The pres­i­dent can­not par­don peo­ple if it’s an ef­fort to ob­struct jus­tice, if it’s an ef­fort to pre­vent Bob Mueller and oth­ers from learn­ing about the pres­i­dent’s own con­duct.

“So, there are lim­i­ta­tions. If it were truly un­lim­ited, it would have the ef­fect of nul­li­fy­ing vast por­tions of the con­sti­tu­tion.

“The pres­i­dent could tell Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials and other law en­force­ment to vi­o­late the law and that if they did, and it was ever brought up, they were brought up on charges, he would par­don them.

“And one prin­ci­ple con­sti­tu­tional in­ter­pre­ta­tion is you don’t in­ter­pret one power as nul­li­fy­ing all of the oth­ers.

“So, I don’t think it’s un­lim­ited. And I think it would be highly prob­lem­atic for the pres­i­dent if it’s part of an ef­fort to ob­struct jus­tice.”

It should sur­prise no one that con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans, who have demon­strated their spine­less­ness again and again, are silent.

They’ve got them­selves fix­ated on tax re­form, which they ir­ra­tionally con­clude will be im­per­illed if they try to head off Trump from do­ing some­thing cat­a­strophic with re­gard to Mueller or par­dons. (Trump needs tax re­form as much as they do so he’s not go­ing to block it, for good­ness sake, if they speak up to pre­vent a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.) We will see what else Mueller has in store for us, but if Trump is this hys­ter­i­cal now, one won­ders what he’ll be like if a stream of in­dict­ments re­lat­ing to the cam­paign and/or ob­struc­tion of jus­tice be­gins. (© Wash­ing­ton Post)

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump

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