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Here’s what we know:

imperial president
  • Donald Trump certainly benefited from Russian intervention in the 2016 electoral process, which was clearly intended to injure Hillary Clinton’s chances;
  • Trump consistently refuses to say anything critical about Vladimir Putin;
  • There were several meetings involving people close to Trump with people close to the Russian regime;
  • Trump personally dictated an untruthful account of a meeting at the Trump Tower in which Donald Trump Jr. sought information that the Russian government had that would be detrimental to Clinton;
  • Trump fired James Comey as FBI Director because Comey would not back off the Russia investigation;
  • Trump has persistently criticized his own Attorney General for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, going so far as to say he regrets appointing him. Yet he has yet to dismiss him.
  • Trump has persistently and aggressively sought to undermine the credibility of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, and his boss, Associate Attorney General Rod Rosenstein;
  • Trump insists that he has done nothing wrong and is the subject of a “Witch Hunt”.

We are left to ask, in light of his repeated assertions of innocence, why he has so obsessively criticized and undermined the Mueller investigation.

Now we have word that Trump’s lawyers, earlier this year, sent a letter to Mueller that asserted that:

  • The President may not be subpoenaed;
  • The President may not be indicted;
  • The President has unlimited powers to pardon those convicted or accused of crimes, including himself.

These sweeping claims are made by a president who openly flouts common standards of ethical behavior and openly profits from his official position. This is a president who seems not to know or care whether what he says is true or false: what is useful to him at the moment is what he says.

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We are left to ask, in light of his repeated assertions of innocence, why he has so obsessively criticized and undermined the Mueller investigation. And why did his lawyers think it necessary to assert such absolute presidential prerogatives? It certainly looks like the behavior of someone with a realistic fear that crimes he committed might be exposed.

Virtually all constitutional law authorities agree that the expansive claims of presidential prerogative are without merit. But what is the remedy? Were Trump to fire Mueller and Rosenstein and terminate the investigation, the immediate remedy would be impeachment, but the Republicans in Congress have shown themselves to be completely subservient to him. It is also likely that lawsuits would emerge from such a sweeping exercise in presidential prerogative to protect the President from indictment. But it’s anyone’s guess how this Supreme Court, with its conservative and Republican majority, would decide the case. It probably depends on Justice Kennedy (though Chief Justice John Roberts might surprise us).

So this most corrupt of all American presidents, facing daunting evidence against him, might just get away with it because the last institutions who could check his power would refuse to do so.

And then what? He has a solid base of around 40 percent of the electorate who think he can do no wrong.

impeachment unavoidable

The stakes of the midterm election this November and the presidential election in 2020 couldn’t be higher: electoral defeat may be the last arrow in the quiver.

John Peeler

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