Above the law
by Tom Sullivan
American democracy? Welcome to Fifth Avenue. (The mouth is almost right.)
Stunning among other stunning statements Attorney General William Barr made Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee was his blithe declaration that the president is above the law.
Responding to questioning by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Barr claimed repeatedly Donald Trump had been "falsely accused" of coordinating with Russia. Deploying the "no underlying crime" red herring, Barr asserted that the president as head of government and the Department of Justice was entitled to close down an investigation into himself if he felt it was off the rails:
Barr said this situation was unique because the president has the “constitutional authority to supervise proceedings,” and if he feels a proceeding was “not well founded” or “groundless,” he could legally shut it down.
“The president does not have to sit there, constitutionally, and allow it to run its course,” Barr said. “That’s important because most of the obstruction claims that are being made here . . . do involve the exercise of the president’s constitutional authority, and we now know that he was being falsely accused.”
The supposed chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America declared President Donald J. Trump his own
Wild from Barr: If the president feels a proceeding is unfounded, "the president does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course. The president could terminate the proceeding and it would not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused." pic.twitter.com/SMpiIXia92— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 1, 2019
Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man.Giving silent assent as Trump lies about what “everyone thinks” and offering up the fawning praise he demands, Comey writes, slowly "pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent" until they are lost. Comey may be sanctimonious, but it doesn't mean he is wrong.
But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.
He slipped several times, but the biggest slip seemed to be planned. Barr argued that Trump (or any president) could shut down an investigation into his own crimes, by simply declaring himself “falsely accused.”— Shockratees 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🐄 (@ThatShockratees) May 2, 2019
Barr is a monarchist. Trump is the GOP’s king.
Hole card seen.
Fascism, Stalinism, monarchy, despotism - all names for what fills the void when democracy is dismantled. It’s what self-dubbed “libertarians” meant to do all along.— Shockratees 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🐄 (@ThatShockratees) May 2, 2019
This is a perilous moment. Best to make yourselves heard and felt.
Getting government-by-the-people out of the way, piece by small piece, until the vacuum opens and government-by-ONE-person rushes in to fill it.— Shockratees 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🐄 (@ThatShockratees) May 2, 2019
It’s been the GOP right-wing’s project for decades. And it was inevitable that foreign enemies of democracy co-opted it as their own.