The pres­i­dent isn’t above the law

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUN­DAY OPIN­ION -

In his July 5 op-ed, “The Rus­sia probe can’t be fired,” David E. Ken­dall didn’t ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing, fun­da­men­tal ques­tion of whether a pres­i­dent can be in­dicted. Pres­i­dent Trump’s sur­ro­gates de­clare that a sit­ting pres­i­dent can­not ob­struct jus­tice, and the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s po­si­tion is that a sit­ting pres­i­dent can­not be crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted.

Mr. Ken­dall lim­ited his in­quiry to eth­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive con­straints, which aren’t help­ful if the pres­i­dent dis­re­gards them. Con­gress could reestab­lish the in­de­pen­dent coun­sel, but that doesn’t seem likely. The Supreme Court won’t in­ter­fere with how the ex­ec­u­tive branch con­ducts it­self, most likely beg­ging on sep­a­ra­tion-of-pow­ers or po­lit­i­cal-ques­tion grounds.

Peo­ple have been re­luc­tant to ad­dress pres­i­den­tial in­dictabil­ity be­cause of the po­ten­tial for abuse. Could en­e­mies levy charges against a pres­i­dent to harm him po­lit­i­cally and in­ter­fere with his abil­ity to carry out his du­ties? Sure, they did it to Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. Per­haps the an­swer is to set up a spe­cial grand jury to judge the mer­its of claims against a pres­i­dent, but the an­swer is not to say that he is im­mune from pros­e­cu­tion.

This is about more than hir­ing or fir­ing pow­ers. Those are well-es­tab­lished. This is about the rule of law. Mem­bers of Con­gress can and have been crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted. Supreme Court jus­tices can be crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted. If the branches of gov­ern­ment are equal, then what’s good for the leg­isla­tive and ju­di­cial branches is good for the ex­ec­u­tive. The pres­i­dent may be first among equals, but he’s still equal. Jonathan Glover, Wash­ing­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.