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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Donald Trump Is Actively Obstructing Justice | The Nation

Trump with arms crossed

"Interfering in an ongoing federal investigation with the purpose of subverting the inquiry represents a classic case of obstruction of justice.

When the president of the United States engages in such meddling, his wrongdoing affronts the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances that was developed by the founders of the American experiment in order guard against any American repetition of what they had so recently revolted against: “the exercise of the Kingly Office” in a manner that could “pervert the same into a detestable and insupportable Tyranny.”

The essential response to such abuse is impeachment. It is the answer to the questions that George Mason posed in this regard to the Constitutional Convention on July 20, 1787: “No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice? Above all shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?”

This all matters today because Donald Trump has just meddled in an ongoing investigation—seeking to force the declassification of documents and text messages that are relevant to the inquiry into Russian influence on his campaign and his presidency. The president has ordered the Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to begin the “immediate declassification” of key sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application for Carter Page, who once served as a foreign-policy aide to Trump. The president has also ordered the declassification of “all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications” and “directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of [former FBI director] James Comey, [former acting director of the FBI] Andrew McCabe, [former chief of the FBI’s Counterespionage Section] Peter Strzok, [former FBI lawyer] Lisa Page, and [former associate deputy Attorney general and former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force] Bruce Ohr.”

The White House is busy peddling the fantasy that the president is acting in the interest of “transparency.” But, as the Columbia Journalism Review has wisely noted, transparency talk is hypocritical coming from “our 45th president—who calls journalists ‘scum,’ refuses to release his tax returns or fully disclose his business ties, and calls for media ‘blackouts’ at executive agencies…”

The truth is that Trump is not promoting transparency. This is, as The Washington Post editorial board explains, an “obvious abuse of presidential power in a matter implicating himself.”

Former acting director of central intelligence John McLaughlin describes Trump’s unprecedented interference as “wrong on so many levels for Justice, law-enforcement, intelligence,” and argues that “This probably qualifies as the President’s most serious assault on the Justice system yet.”

Donald Trump Is Actively Obstructing Justice | The Nation

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