Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Are They Really This Stupid?

Ranting and raving on the Twitter machine at all hours
(and just how does one negotiate nuclear war?)
In a tense meeting in early March with the special counsel, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

But special counsel Robert S. Mueller III responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter.

Mueller’s warning — the first time he is known to have mentioned a possible subpoena to Trump’s legal team — spurred a sharp retort from John Dowd, then the president’s lead lawyer.

“This isn’t some game,” Dowd said, according to two people with knowledge of his comments. “You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.”

Funny, I'm pretty sure that's the position Bill Clinton's lawyers took when Ken Starr wanted Clinton's deposition. Clinton, however, wisely decided not to seek a confrontation on the point and gave a deposition which, yes, led finally to his impeachment; but not to his removal from office.  Clinton was impeached for not being fully forthcoming about an extra-marital affair.  What is Trump afraid of?  And this time the court could take notice of Trump's undenied work schedule (downstairs by 11:00 a.m., finished by 2-3 p.m., off to play golf every Saturday, tweeting about his personal peeves at all hours) on the question of "screwing with the work of the president of the United States."

Aside from the simple fact even the President is not above the law; unless that President is Donald Trump, apparently.

Trump advisers are particularly frustrated by the Mueller team’s focus on whether Trump was obstructing justice by trying to push last summer for Sessions to resign. If the attorney general had stepped down, Trump could have chosen a replacement who was not recused from running the Russia investigation.

Dowd has repeatedly argued that the president has ultimate authority under the Constitution to fire or demote any of his appointees and that his firing decisions cannot be used as evidence of obstruction.

Richard Nixon would love to return from the dead to speak to you on that issue, as it was one of the grounds for obstruction of justice being drawn up in articles of impeachment he avoided only by resigning in time.

Judges have generally held that the president is not above the law and can be subjected to normal legal processes — but the issue of a presidential subpoena for testimony has not been tested in court. Starr subpoenaed President Bill Clinton for grand jury testimony in 1998 but withdrew it after Clinton agreed to testify voluntarily. He was interviewed at the White House, appearing before the grand jury via video.

Rosenzweig, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, said judges generally like to accommodate a president because he has to be free to “manage the affairs of the world and deal with nuclear war without having to worry about whether he has to show up for an interview the next day.”

But, he added, courts are loath to say the president can’t be investigated.

“The opposite argument is that no man is above the law, and if it’s a lawful investigation, then he must respond,” Rosenzweig said.

Some legal experts believe that two Justice Department opinions prohibit federal prosecutors, including Mueller, from charging a sitting president with a crime. Instead, they said, the Constitution relies on Congress’s power to impeach as the route to hold a president accountable for potentially criminal behavior.

Trump’s lawyers could then argue that he cannot be forced to testify under subpoena, unless his testimony is necessary to indict someone else.

Yeah, let's go there, and preferably sometime in the summer.  November is coming and baby wants a brand new Congress.

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