According to Joseph diGenova, a respected former U.S. attorney, we are currently experiencing the worst scandal in the history of our republic. Commenting on U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, whom diGenova claims has done nothing illegal, diGenova states that Mueller and his team should be ashamed of themselves.
According to diGenova, Mueller and a host of Obama holdovers, enraged that Donald Trump unexpectedly defeated their candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, cooked up the canard that Trump only won because of clandestine aid from Vladimir Putin and his oligarchic cronies.
Flynn was pushed out of his position as an adviser to the president through the machinations of Sally Yates, an Obama Justice Department official.
Ms. Yates, still in office during the early weeks of the Trump administration, following an illegal revelation of surveillance of conversations between the Russian ambassador and Flynn, persuaded Trump that Flynn lied to Vice President Pence about whether he had discussed sanctions recently imposed on the Russians for purportedly interfering in our election of 2016.
There are more levels of irony here than one can count, but it is worth mentioning, at least, that the U.S., the Russians, the British, the French, the Israelis and many other countries interfere in each other’s elections and have done so as long as nations and elections have existed.
Probably such interference has sometimes been effective (as it occasionally was when our own CIA acted abroad), but there is no evidence the Russians had any actual effect on our 2016 presidential contest.
The president’s enemies still appear confident that he will be exposed as Putin’s puppet. But it's more likely that their misconduct will continue to be revealed.
The latest shameful episode, let slip when former FBI Director James B. Comey gave a talk at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York, is the sending of Peter Strzok and another FBI agent to interview Flynn at the White House without first obtaining the permission of the White House counsel. This was a conversation deliberately structured as informal, after advising Flynn that no lawyer should be present, and without warning Flynn that he was suspected of misrepresenting his dealings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Comey told his rapt listeners at the Y that in a more organized administration he would not have dared resort to such practices, but he felt he could get away with it in this presidency.
If we had any doubts before that Director Comey made his own rules, this should have removed them. It was this same kind of unorthodox conduct, the same sort of ignoring proper procedures, that resulted in a brace of former attorneys general and deputy attorneys general recommending to President Trump that he cashier Comey — which of course he did.
There's still some mystery why Comey, Sally Yates, James Clapper, John Brennan, Andrew McCabe, and so many others would undertake what diGenova believes is, in effect, a massive criminal conspiracy to remove a duly-elected U.S. president.
"Politics ain’t beanbag," as Mr. Dooley maintained, and perhaps the transfer of power from Obama/Clinton to Trump, and the attendant lost possibilities of monetizing the federal government (as Hillary, Bill and their retainers had so unprecedently done) is the simple explanation.
The Framers understood that the almost unavoidable risk to republics is that they would succumb to corruption. Donald Trump’s detractors claim that it is he, rather than those in the prior administration who are corrupt, but there is, as yet, no sign that the president’s finances have been increased, and, if anything, his wealth has dramatically diminished since he assumed office.
Indeed, what his critics don’t seem to grasp is that Donald Trump may actually have entered public service — after having been a spectacular success as a private citizen — from altruistic motives.
Trump’s first two years have been an extraordinary triumph, if one believes in the traditional Republican principles of appointing judges and justices committed to the rule of law, reducing taxes, limiting regulation, enforcing immigration restrictions, creating a favorable environment for trade and commerce, diminishing foreign threats, and protecting property rights.
That success is now threatened by those seeking to undermine the president’s legitimacy.
The distraction of Mueller’s investigation should soon come to an end, and his report should demonstrate the fallacy of those who believe that Trump won unfairly.
There is even a chance that Michael Flynn’s entrapment will be revealed, and his guilty plea overturned, by Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has been a constant foe of prosecutorial overreach.
Eternal vigilance still remains the price of liberty, however, and the defenders of this administration must now be prepared to endure two years of harassment from U.S. House Democrats longing for a return to the days of Clinton/Obama hegemony.
Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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