Trump has been on a Twitter rampage the past few days, bashing the Mueller investigation and calling it a “witch hunt” while declaring that the only thing worthy of investigation is the Clinton campaign. It’s laughable. But far more extraordinary, Trump has been saying that he has the power as President to pardon himself of any crime.
If your first reaction is to be simultaneously nauseated, horrified and outraged, then congratulations–you are sentient. It is inconceivable that the founders of our nation would support Trump’s claim in any way, given that they were so repelled by and opposed to European monarchies and authoritarian tyranny. His claim is antithetical to the core of our national identity, that no person is above the law.
Many cable news pundits and legal analysts were understandably appalled, but the notion of unlimited executive power has never been tested in the Supreme Court. And given how many activist-partisans are now on the court, thanks to historic GOP bad faith and trickery (Merrick Garland), it’s impossible to predict with certainty if Presidential tyranny would survive a court challenge. Most sane people believe it would not, but hey, you never know.
The other important question is, why is Trump suddenly telegraphing to his indicted friends and associates that they will get pardoned just like Dinesh D’Souza, and that he will also be pardoned, by himself? It’s the sort of desperate frenzy that a criminal would enter as law enforcement closes in. And that may be what’s happening. It turns out that over 99% of the material seized from Trump-lawyer Michael Cohen’s office is not covered by attorney-client privilege. And it turns out that indicted Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was yesterday accused by the Mueller investigation of witness tampering, and may be headed to jail soon, before his trial. (Expect Trump to mention that Manafort is again “being treated very unfairly”.)
Perhaps this is why Trump’s lawyers admitted over the weekend that Trump had penned the now-notorious note on Air Force One full of lies that Donald Jr initially claimed was his own creation. Trump and his people have repeatedly disavowed any connection to the note, but then over the weekend they seemed to be saying, “Yes, Trump wrote the note, and it amounts to criminal obstruction of justice…but Trump is above the law and can pardon himself if necessary.”
This moment in American history is insane. Yet here we are. A president who practically admits to a crime, then brags about being above the law, with a GOP Congress standing mostly silent.
Which brings us back to our own Congressional Rep, John Faso, who has stood silent in the face of a the steady flow of corruption from the White House, and who has yet to weigh in on whether the President of the United States is above the law. Faso took an oath to uphold the Constitution and, despite what a deeply partisan Supreme Court might say, it’s hard to imagine anything more un-American or un-patriotic that a President who wants to hold himself above the rule of law. So for Faso to stay silent seems a betrayal of his oath of office.
Let’s keep working hard to replace John Faso with a Rep who cares more about American political institutions and the Constitution than the billionaires who want to buy our democracy one politician at a time.