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Trump Must be Prosecuted, or We Should Just Admit Presidents are Above the Law

GUEST COMMENTARY-Trump cannot go unpunished this time.

He’s always been able to skate by despite criminal behavior, never facing the consequences for a long history of corruption, and a term in the White House awash in abuses of presidential power.

But this isn’t just about Trump. This is about the next president. And the one after that, and the one after that.

If a president can brazenly threaten a state election official unless he invents votes to tip an election — an election which has already been recounted twice, and to which every legal challenge has been found to be without merit — the president can do anything.

If Trump is not impeached, censured or held criminally liable by a state or federal jurisdiction for his actions in Saturday’s phone meeting with Georgia election officials, we might as well just do away with the generally-held principle that the president is not above the law.

Rule of law was the ostensible reason for making the country endure nearly two years of drama leading up to Bill Clinton’s impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (Lewinsky, with her talent for incisive self-deprecation, tweeted about the leaked audio recording of Trump’s call: “i’m generally opposed to someone being surreptitiously taped on a phone call…but not this one, folks!”)

Any number of reasonable ethical critiques can be made of former independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation, including his aggressive exploration into tangential matters like Clinton’s affair. But ensuring an adherence to the law — that not even the president could dodge — was the primary argument for convicting Clinton and removing him from office.

Clinton allegedly lied under oath and used the power of the presidency to make an inconvenient witness shut up. I personally think he was guilty, based on the evidence. But the “high crimes” he was accused of were lying in court about sexual encounters and then having one of his friends try to get Lewinsky a job in the private sector to keep her quiet. Unseemly, illegal stuff, but not a threat to our very democracy

What Trump did — as documented in a 60-minute recording — is so much worse than anything of which Bill Clinton was accused, and with so much more clear-cut evidence, that it’s mind-throttling to think he will face no discernible consequences for it.

 

(This Anthony L. Fisher commentary was posted earlier in Business Insider) Photo credit: President Donald Trump poses for a White House photograph to show him working during his stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Photo: Tia Dufour/The White House via Getty Images

 

-cw