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The President’s Attorney, William Barr

The Founders could never have conceived of a person as profoundly corrupt and stupid as Donald Trump, certainly not ever gaining the office of President of the United States. They were frankly elitist and believed that the electoral college would have the effect of ensuring that only the best, property owning, white men, by their lights, would ever become president.

They also put an amendment provision into the Constitution, allowing us to revise that document as we saw fit, so we have eliminated slavery, prohibited discrimination against the freed slaves and their descendants in voting, set a federal floor to the rights of citizenship, and prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in voting, among the most significant changes, since the Constitution took effect.

For reasons that are not clear, many people, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who should know better, have fixated on the idea of indicting the current, so called president, who has quickly established himself as by far the worst president in the history of the republic to date, and forever, we can hope.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller, in closing the office that spent two years investigating the horror that is President Trump, stated that he had not indicted Trump because a rule at the Department of Justice, his employer during his term as special prosecutor, forbade him to do so.

Pelosi’s silly idea of a statute providing that indicting a sitting president is possible makes zero sense. She does at least say, “future presidents,” which makes the idea slightly less ridiculous. While she could likely get such a bill passed in the House of Representatives right now, Mitch McConnell almost certainly would not even bring it up for a vote, and even if it passed the Senate, Trump would veto it, and it almost certainly would not pass by a margin large enough to allow for an override of that veto.

More importantly, Mueller did not put the point this baldly, but he did gesture at the point that indicting a sitting president is entirely irrelevant and unnecessary. Any president who engages in conduct that invites indictment has also, thereby and necessarily so, invited impeachment. The two are not mutually exclusive. The Constitution expressly provides that any officer who suffers removal via impeachment remains liable to criminal prosecution for the acts that gave rise to the impeachment. That’s why President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon soon after Nixon resigned.

Then there is the point that Rod Rosenstein, before he resigned and under the authority of Barr’s predecessor, Jefferson Sessions, appointed Mueller as special prosecutor, who indicted several people as part of his investigation and, again, said he only refrained from indicting the president because the rules forbade him to do so.

But, with Barr as Attorney General, even if he had the power to indict Trump, which he actually does because he could eliminate the rule against indicting a sitting president if he wanted to, no indictment would issue because Trump hired Barr precisely to cover up his crimes, not endure prosecution for them, and Barr is far too loyal a toady to violate that bargain.

Thus, insofar as one wants to use the Trump administration as a model for future legislation — Congress passed several statutes immediately after Nixon’s departure to try to avoid a repeat of that debacle, including the Presidential Records Act, which requires the president and his staff to keep all documents they produce for deposit after the president leaves office in an archive for safekeeping in perpetuity — it is well to consider the possibility that a future corrupt president will not be as stupid as Trump and think to appoint a highly compliant Attorney General from the outset, such that he need fear no indictment from either the Attorney General themselves or any special prosecutor.

Quit fantasizing about indicting the president. It’s a complete waste of time.

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Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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