The Transylvania Times -

Assaulting Our Judicial System

 

Last updated 2/19/2020 at 4:17pm



When Republicans in the U.S. Senate decided they were going to acquit President Trump of any charges long before the House of Representatives had finished its inquiry, they set in motion a series of events that are eroding our judicial system.

The Republican senators had no intent of holding a real trial. (Mitch McConnell: “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers. There’s no chance the president is going to be removed from office.”) Many of them lied when they took the oath to be impartial jurors. (Lindsey Graham: “I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”) They refused to call witnesses although they called them during the impeachment of President Clinton. Then, they made multitude of ludicrous statements justifying the acquittal even though, as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R.-Tenn.) said, the House managers had proven with a “mountain of overwhelming evidence”... the president had asked a “foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation.”

When it was over, Susan Collins (R.-Maine) showed her utter misunderstanding of the president when she said he had learned a lesson and would be “much more cautious in the future.”

The lesson the president learned is that only one Republican in the entire Congress is willing to hold him accountable for any misdeeds.

With an obsequious majority in U.S. Senate under his control, Trump has now focused on making the judiciary, through Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice (DOJ), comply with his desires. Last week, the president said the proposed sentence of 7-9 years for longtime friend Roger Stone was far too harsh. (Stone was convicted in November on five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of a proceeding.) The next morning Barr overruled the prosecutors and sought a much lighter sentence, while the president said Stone should have a retrial. As a result, the four prosecutors handling the Stone case resigned from the case.

The president then congratulated Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control” and said the prosecutors “ought to apologize” to Stone, even though the prosecutors followed DOJ rules by making “sentencing recommendations based on an individualized assessment of the facts and circumstances of each case … without improper consideration of the defendant’s … political association, activities or beliefs.”

The actions of Trump and Barr have rattled the judicial community and millions of Americans. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 2,000 former members of the Justice Department who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations signed a letter calling for Barr to resign because he is “doing the president’s bidding.”

They wrote: “In this nation we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the president. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.”

Soon thereafter, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and is president of the Independent Federal Judges Association, called for an emergency meeting of the group of more than 1,100 federal judges.

“There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe told USA Today.

These actions by DOJ alumni and current federal judges indicate the gravity of the situation.

The president said he has the “absolute right” to direct DOJ decisions, which is in contradiction to the Constitutional requirement the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” It’s frightening the president claims his power to be “absolute.” If his powers to direct the DOJ are absolute, which nearly all legal analysts deny, then he could direct the DOJ to investigate anyone who reasonably questions anything he, his family or his friends do and he could stop any legitimate investigation that could harm himself, his family or his friends either politically, financially or criminally.

As Kim Wehle, an associate independent counsel for Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater investigation, wrote: “Favoritism or retaliation in criminal investigations and prosecutions on the basis of political affiliations is the essence of tyranny.”

 
 

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