Daily Archives: March 5, 2017

Perjury, presidential delusions, and theater of the surreal

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The past several days has been a whirlwind of political accusations and the theater of the surreal. First it was revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lied to the Senate during his confirmation hearings, claiming he had never had any communications with the Russians, when in fact he had two meetings. Sessions knowingly and willfully misled the Senate, while under oath. Those are the elements of the federal crime of perjury. This led to calls for his resignation by several Democrats, and Sessions took the step of recusing himself from any role in a DOJ investigation of Russian interference in the election. The president fully supports Sessions and claims he did nothing wrong, as everything about Russia is fake news and an effort to unfairly target his administration.
As if this wasn’t enough, the president went on a series of tweet-storms in which he accused President Obama of illegally wiretapping Trump tower during the election, and then calling for an investigation. The president offered no evidence, and the claims have been met by widespread disbelief. The tweets suggested that the president has no knowledge of how wiretaps work; nor does he understand the nature of presidential power. The DOJ and FBI have wide authority to seek warrants to conduct a wiretap. That authority has been broadened considerably since September 11, 2001. What the president does not, and has never had, is the power to unilaterally conduct wiretaps. To do so would be to blatantly violate the law, and claims that Obama did this are quite simply, absurd. 
If there was a wiretap it was done after a judge issued a warrant, in which the Court was presented with probable cause that a crime had been committed, or that there had been foreign interference in the election. That warrant would most likely go through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  By Sunday afternoon, after members of Congress on both sides of the aisle were suggesting it was highly unlikely, even the Director of the FBI, requested that the Department of Justice reject Trump’s claim.
But the story gets more surreal. The president’s mis-spelled tweets not only tried to implicate President Obama, but invoked imagery of Nixon, Watergate, and McCarthyism. Why on earth would he do any of this? What is the end game? Forgetting the fact that a president accused of complicity with foreign interference in the election should never utter the words Nixon or Watergate.  But the question remains, what benefit could he gain from this? Well, quite simply, the whole thing stinks of the manipulative maneuverings of Steve Bannon, the president’s alt-right chief strategist. With the evidence mounting of the Trump campaign’s improper ties to the Russian government and businesses, what better distraction could there be than to suggest that President Obama had violated the law.
In some ways it is brilliant. If there is one thing Trump supporters hate with a vengeance, it is Barrack Obama. Thus, what better distraction is there than to allege illegal wrongdoing by the Obama administration? It is the perfect game of smoke and mirrors. Don’t fall for it. Don’t be that gullible. The focus should remain on the one issue that is at the center of this —Russian interference in the election, the president’s refusal to release his tax returns which would either implicate or exonerate him, the numerous high ranking individuals associated with the Trump campaign and administration who are implicated in improper connections with Russia. This is the issue.
President Trump made reference to Watergate and President Nixon. The reality is we are sitting on a time-bomb, which is likely to make Watergate look like small potatoes. A constitutional crisis we have not seen in 45 years. There needs to be a independent investigation and a special prosecutor named, to uncover the truth. The Constitution is robust enough to withstand another Watergate. Indeed, we may have gone so far down the rabbit hole that such a crisis is essential to restoring American democracy.
Don’t be distracted. There is one issue, and we know what it is. It isn’t President Obama. That is for sure.

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