Liberty Expose: Republicans and the Rule of Law
US President Donald Trump and his allies are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Special Counsel’s investigation of POTUS’s campaign and administration is over. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is rejecting every call from within her own party to push for impeachment charges to be brought forth against the defiant President. Then there are the Republicans. Many of them are too afraid to stand up to Donald Trump’s actions, before and after he became President. So far only Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) has dared to join the chorus of Democrats calling on Congress to carry the torch Mueller passed on, opening him up to a chorus of scorn from his own party members. Ultimately, Congress should not let the President get off easy for any possible misconduct; but if it does not continue the investigation, then it must at least assert more authority over the Executive Branch.
In his last press conference, now former SC Mueller stated that there were “multiple systematic attempts by the Russians to interfere in our elections.” He also noted that neither the Justice Department nor the Special Counsel office (which is part of the DOJ), has the purview to prosecute a sitting President on criminal charges. It is also important to note that the Special Counsel did not exonerate President Trump, as if they did, the report the SC office published would have explicitly stated. This means that the ball is solely in the hands of the United States Congress which has the authority granted by the Constitution to investigate, impeach and indict a sitting President.
The impact of the Special Counsel’s statement was predictable. Many Republicans continue to exalt President Trump, stating that he did nothing wrong and that the investigation was merely a ploy to stop the conservative agenda. On the opposite side of the aisle, the Democrats are divided on what to do. As stated, Nancy Pelosi does not want to engage in what would likely be a messy impeachment process that could jeopardize her party’s chances of winning the 2020 election unless enough information is present that would bolster the case against Trump. Others like Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) do not want to wait. The Speaker of the House is right on this subject. If Congress goes down the road towards impeachment and then indictment, then it will make governing all the more difficult. The President has already stated he will not work with Democrats on any policy matter such as infrastructure or healthcare until the party’s investigation of him is over.
So what about Justin Amash’s statement? The member of the House Freedom Caucus -- the libertarian-leaning group in the House of Representatives -- has made clear on Twitter and in a recent town hall that he disagrees with his party, stating that Congress must go where the DOJ cannot and investigate the President. On May 28th, Amash called out Attorney General Bill Barr’s for his misrepresentation of the Special Counsel’s report by stating there has been conclusive evidence then-candidate Trump committed any crime or lied. The Representative from Michigan has not won much support from his colleagues in the Freedom Caucus.
Overall, I do agree with Representative Amash in that the Mueller Report is damning evidence of the President’s misdeeds and must be further investigated by Congress. It has been frustrating to watch Republicans dismiss the POTUS’s actions as trivial simply because he is one of them. When former President Bill Clinton lied to Congress about his affairs on December 19, 1998, the Republican-majority House successfully impeached him for perjury and obstruction of justice. Then throughout the then President Barack Obama’s administration, many Republicans called for him to be impeached for numerous reasons such as the Benghazi debacle, failure to enforce immigration laws, etc. What is different about Trump? He has repeatedly praised dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un who has sentenced many of his own die in labor camps, usurp Congress’s authority over both the budget by allocating Department of Defense funds for a border wall and by placing tariffs on foreign goods. If this was a Democratic President committing these acts, Republicans would be cursing their names and demanding impeachment.
Regardless of whether or not the President should be impeached, Congress must exercise its Constitutional power to restore balance between the branches of government that make up the triumvirate: the Legislature is the pen that writes the law and has sole authority over the country’s purse; the Executive branch is the sword that enforces the will of Congress, it does not and should never create policy on its own accord; and finally, the Judiciary is the lens for which we interpret laws to ensure they comply with the Constitution. All too often these days (well, really for the past century or so), the branches of government stray too far from their given purview to accomplish a specific policy outcome, whether that be the White House sending troops overseas without Congressional authorization (which in turn means Congress is abandoning its duty)
At some point, my fellow Republicans will have to decide what is more important: achieving short term policy gains, or maintaining some iota of principle that can never be twisted. I hope we as a party choose the latter. Republicans in the House must support the rule of law and help take back Congress’ long-lost authority over policy. Furthermore, the GOP cannot survive if we continue to act as sycophants to an increasingly unstable President. Supporting a President and their vision for America is good, but blind faith is never acceptable, especially in a democratic society in which all civil authority serves the people. Sadly however, I do not see this happening any time soon, at least not with Trump at the helm who is guiding us into the looming iceberg ahead.