Living Large In Carson City: Advise and Consent Works Only When Listened To Edition

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“They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind” Hosea

This just in this morning,

“As we have repeatedly explained, the attorney general could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,” Boyd wrote. “Accordingly, this is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.” The Hill

In terms of a Constitutional crisis, this is the equivalent of “the shit just hit the fan.” This past week and the upcoming one are going to be crucial to the survival of democracy as Americans know it. The president and his gang of insurrectionists just stepped on the “third rail” of what seems to be the subway to impeachment. Okay, it was expected that Trump would bar his people from testifying to the House Judiciary Committee, or even in the wildest of scenarios, blocking Robert Mueller himself from sitting before the committee. It was understandable that the Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, would not release Trump’s tax returns, no matter how many laws he would break. It was understandable that Trump would not allow Attorney General Bob Barr to testify again before Jerry Nadler’s Democratic packed committee, especially after his miserable lying performance last time he appeared. All of those infractions are par for the course for this corrupt, scheming band of jackals who seem hell bent on destroying America as we know it.

But to pull Executive Privilege out of his ample ass is really telling the American people, this is a man who has far more to lose than just a bitch fight over legal niceties. The sweep and depth of his declaration is breathtaking.   “Accordingly, this is to advise you that the president has asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.” In one egregiously egomaniacal act, the president put himself above the law and the American people. Quite literally, this act says that regardless of whether or not the 10 times Mueller pointed out instances where the president committed obstruction were true or not, Trump has said in no uncertain terms that he is immune to the truth, the rule of law, and the will of the majority of the  American people. Disregard the fact that 720 and counting federal prosecutors, both Republican and Democratic, have signed a letter affirming that according the scant findings presented by Barr of Mueller’s report they believe Trump committed obstruction of justice.

Americans hear a lot about the nation being in a Constitutional Crisis. It sounds bad, and it is. Here is a definition and some examples of what measures up to be a Constitutional Crisis.

In political science, a constitutional crisis is a problem or conflict in the function of a government that the political constitution or other fundamental governing law is perceived to be unable to resolve . . .

Specific examples include the South African Coloured vote constitutional crisis in the 1950s, the secession of the southern U.S. states in 1860 and 1861, the controversial dismissal of the Australian Federal government in 1975 and the 2007 Ukrainian crisis. Wikipedia

So, how is Trump’s move to claim of Executive Privilege “over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials” a Constitutional Crisis? This is where Article 1 of the Constitution steps into play. The Founding Fathers foresaw a president who through hook or crook was able to gain immense power, far beyond what the Framers intended. Article I gives the Congress power to check the president’s actions to conform with the intent of the document as set forth by the Founders. The Senate holds slightly more power than the House in that they confirm judges, cabinet members, and other important officials through advise and consent of the president’s nominations. The House, more or less, holds the purse strings of Congress and can deny the president certain rights and combat overreach that may occur with a corrupt, undemocratic president.

Oversight is wielded through Congressional committees like the House Judiciary Committee which just subpoenaed Attorney General Bob Barr for refusing to sit before the Committee for questions on topics related to the Bob Mueller report. By denying the Congress its ability to preform its oversight duties, and with little regard for the House’s subpoenas process, the administration created a situation where the Constitution cannot work as it was properly envisioned. This is only one example of how Trump and company are flaunting the rule of law in their attempt to cover up the Mueller report, the questionable granting of security clearances, and  refusing to turn over Trump’s financial records. The fact that the Republicans are complicit is not surprising. The Party as a whole has pushed for a stronger presidency ever since the Nixon debacle back in 1960s and 1970s.

So, where are now is the nation and federal government are literally at the mercy of the president and his minions. The situation is beyond normal and getting worse by the day. Of course, the Democrats  would like to ignore the entire mess on grounds of political expediency, but they do so by risking the sovereignty of the political process as envisioned by the Founders. The fly in the ointment is one that has rarely been experienced before this administration. The Attorney General, and the Department of Justice as a whole, while part of the Executive Branch, are supposed to be working for the American people . . . not the president’s whims and demands. Bob Barr became the most corrupt AG in the history of the nation when he took Trump’s side when reviewing the Mueller Report. His betrayal of his office makes him both a criminal and obstructionist when it opted to become Trump’s lapdog.

Yesterday, in a rare move that shows someone on the Committee has a pair of balls, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, did the unthinkable and subpoenaed Trump’s son, Donnie, Jr., for follow up questioning about remarks he made to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow. He claimed he was only marginally involved with the project during the 2016 campaign. Michael Cohen, however, in his own Congressional testimony called out Donnie, Jr. (as well as Ivanka) testifying that both siblings were briefed regularly (at least 10 times) on the pace and development of the Moscow deal. Donnie, Jr. lied. Trump, understandably, was over-wrought with the news and no one knows how he will react if the committee goes through with calling the younger Trump in for further testimony.

But what the hey? It’s obvious that the president doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about the rule of law and is advising everyone who has been subpoenaed to ignored them and carry on as usual. This is where the Constitutional Crisis takes on greater meaning for the future of the country. In one fell swoop, Trump erased a good part of Article I of the Constitution and entered the land of monarchy. The only ones left in a position to counteract the president are the heads of the House committees that issued the subpoenas in the first place.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is head of the House Intelligence Committee and has come up with an old but still viable oversight power. If Trump continues to actively encourage members of his administration to ignore subpoenas, Schiff proposes a concrete method to do an end around of the president’s demands. Fine the hell out of them.

“I think it’s much more practical to consider levying individual fines on the person, not the office, until they comply,” he added. “You could fine someone $25,000 a day until they comply and that would probably get their attention.” EpochTimes 

While Schiff proposal makes sense, in the big picture, it will probably hold little power given Trump will simply tell people to ignore the fines. Eventually, someone will have to go to jail to make things “real” and the consequences too onerous to contemplate. A couple of nights in the slammer and an accumulated fine possibly in the hundreds of thousands of dollars should change some people’s minds. Yet, we’ve seen time and again over the past two years that Trump has no regard for the rule of law and will likely step even farther down the path of corruption. The only answer then, politically expedient or not, will be to impeach him. Let’s hope the Democrats have the backbone and wherewithal to pull it off.

 

 

 

 

 

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