Only dictators claim they are above the law

If there is one obvious prevailing trait of America’s government with a corrupt celebrity at its head, it is that nearly all leaders of the various federal agencies and departments are religiously opposed to fulfilling the duties of the agencies they lead. This is true of every department in Trump’s industry- and evangelical-heavy administration, including the criminal running the Executive Branch of government.

Like the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no interest in protecting the environment, or the head of the Education Department has no interest in supporting public education, the head of the Executive Branch, dirty Don Trump, has no interest in “executing the laws” of the United States; the primary duty of the Executive Branch. In fact, as with everything Trump, he has gone far beyond just not executing the laws of the land, he claims that he is exempt from the laws and is not afraid to make it public knowledge.

During the 2016 presidential election, Trump claimed he could “shoot somebody in the face” and still maintain the support of his racist and religious acolytes. Some people likely believed Trump was boasting about his popularity among his zealot supporters, but based on his actions since even before his poorly attended inauguration, and a recently revealed White House “memo”  to the Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller, Trump was informing the American people that the nation’s laws simply do not apply to him. It has been an ongoing theme of Trump’s criminal tenure in the Oval Office and now his White House legal team all but claimed Trump decides what justice entails.

Whether it is violating campaign finance laws, flouting the U.S. Code prohibiting hiring family members, taking bribes from foreign governmentsobstructing justiceprofitingoff his position as White House resident, or colluding with foreign spies against the interests of the United States; Trump has shown that he regards laws as applicable to his alleged enemies, but not himself or members of his criminal enterprise.

It is worth noting that Trump’s criminal syndicate now includes the preponderance of the Republican Party that refuses to provide oversight or control the organized crime syndicate occupying the White House. That includes no small number of Republican senators and House representatives who violated 18 U.S. Code § 4 by not immediately reporting what they knew from personal experience was Trump attempting to obstruct justice. They did confirm that Trump pressured them to end their investigation. Although obstructing justice is a crime, it is one that Trump claims does not apply to him because he is the head of the Executive Branch tasked by the U.S. Constitution with “executing the laws of the land.”

At this point it is probably true that a fair number of Americans have at least heard about a “confidential memo” sent by the White House legal team informing Robert S. Mueller III that because he is the head of the Executive Branch, Trump is exempt from obstruction of justice laws. This is, as no small number of legal experts and pundits alike have asserted, a damned “ludicrous” claim. Particularly because Richard M. Nixon and William Jefferson Clinton each faced removal from the White House for “obstruction of justice.”

It is worth noting that there is probably no government office with more opportunities to obstruct justice than the presidency and it is almost certainly why the United States Congress was given Constitutional authority to ensure that the Executive Branch abides by the laws of the land.

Sadly today, the Republicans running Congress not only refuse to do their due diligence and their jobs, such as providing the oversight to the White House, they are actively obstructing justice by covering for the criminals and worse – they have acted contrary to their “law and order” bona fides by viciously attacking the Justice Department and federal law enforcement agencies that are doing their jobs.

The gist of the White House “memo” to Mr. Mueller’s team is that because he is head of the Executive Branch, the one Branch solely responsible for executing the law of the land:  “Trump can’t obstruct justice because as president [head of the Executive Branch] he has authority to end an investigation of himself.”

Representative Ted Lieu summed up the consensus of legal experts aware of the insanity entailed in the memo saying:

The confidential memo from attorneys for @realDonaldTrump is, to use a legal term, ludicrous. Under their view, @POTUS could shoot a federal employee on 5th Ave and still not be able to be indicted, or even subpoenaed.”

The mindset revealed in the White House memo is more than a claim Trump is exempt from the law; it is a statement that he is the law because he can “end an investigation of himself.” It is tantamount to claiming he can unilaterally invalidate any law of the land if it is applied to him or his crime family. It is likely why the “memo” contained a stunning admission by a Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, that Trump did more than weigh in on his son’s mendacious letter about the so-called “Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals. According Trump’s lawyer, Trump “dictated” the letter his son provided in response to an article in the New York Times denying any collusion with the Russians. Despite several official White House denials that Trump had no involvement in crafting the letter, the White House legal team wrote to Mr. Mueller:

“You have received all of the notes, communications and testimony indicating that the President [Trump] dictated a response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.”

This admission is important for no other reason than, as documented by CNN, Trump’s administration lied profusely that Trump had nothing whatsoever to do with “the letter.”  As David Corn noted over at Mother Jones; Donald Jr.’s account in closed-door testimony before the United States Congress was a dirty lie. And Mr. Corn remarked that “it’s a crime to lie to Congress.”

But that is not the case in Trump’s administration as evidenced by at least five of his Cabinet nominees lying under “so help my god” oath during their Senate confirmation hearings with complete impunity. Trump’s liar’s club includes aspiring preacher-pope Mike Pence. Remember, Pence blatantly lied that he only learned of Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia and Turkey several months after Congressional Democrats had sent him a letter informing him that Flynn had close ties to Russia and Turkey.

The whole point of this little screed is to reiterate that America is being run by an honest-to-dog criminal enterprise with no regard for the law; the law that in Trump’s corrupt mind cannot apply to him. It is likely that Trump has labored under that concept his entire life. Whether it was him or his rich daddy obstructing justice with payments (donations) to politicians to ignore dumb Donnie’s real estate malfeasance, or being on the receiving end of a $500 billion Chinese investment (bribe), Trump has ignored the law of the land that every other American is beholden to follow under pain of prosecution.

As noted above, Republicans in Congress are complicit in Trump’s criminal syndicate because they are willingly colluding with the “Don” to obstruct justice, as well as question the legitimacy of America’s federal law enforcement and undermine federal investigative agencies.

America cannot survive a United States Congress that appears more than willing to aid and abet a known criminal occupying the White House. And yes, Trump is a criminal who has already violated no small number of laws, including lying by swearing on a stack of two Christian bibles to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States … and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me god.”

Trump’s flagrant disregard for the law, including openly asserting he is above the law, is a portent that America is perilously close to being run by an authoritarian dictator; a tragedy that would not be possible without the willing participation of the party of law and order – the GOP. In fact, Trump’s claim that he is immune from the law is the clearest sign yet that his goal is ruling as a dictatorial tyrant.

Republicans Enact a Rule to Punish and Fire Civil Servants

Republicans are renowned for condemning regulations and rules as federal government tyranny because they protect the population from the GOP’s corporate and religious supporters. However, they have little issue making rules that allow their supporters to tyrannize the rest of the citizenry.

House Republicans took a little constituent heat last week when, while making rules to benefit the GOP, they tried to abolish the independent congressional ethics office; an office dirty Donald Trump claimed was “unfair to Republicans.” It was a revealing statement and is reminiscent of every career criminal in history saying the police, the courts, and prisons are unfair to criminals; but that is another story.

While they were rolling back the effort to protect and defend unethical Republican lawmakers, they were making other rules that will have a significant impact across the government. And, it is noteworthy that none of the Republican rules was created to help even one American private citizen. In fact, one rule was enacted to tyrannize individual American workers.

One of the “new rules” in the Republican-dominated Congress expands Republicans’ power to terrorize individual federal employees who run afoul of the Koch and religious right agenda. In resurrecting a rule first introduced in 1876, Republicans granted themselves unchallenged authority to target and force private American citizens to Capitol Hill to be “interrogated” by Republicans in the House. That obscure rule also allows Congress to slash the pay of any government worker, or eliminate a program that doesn’t fit the Koch or religious right agenda.

The so-called “Holman rule” was first proposed in 1876 by a House representative that stayed in play until 1983. That was the year when a Democratic-controlled House put an end to the Holman rule for the obvious reason; it gives far too much power to an individual or party to either tyrannize federal employees or unilaterally do away with entire programs they happen to despise or disagree with.

The new iteration of the Holman rule was reinstated by a House Republican, Morgan Griffith (R-VA), who is also a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus (teabagger). Griffith championed the “arcane provision” as a tool to allow either an individual legislator or a group of lawmakers to make targeted cuts to the federal workforce depending on who may have disagreed openly with Republicans.

The 2017 version gives any lawmaker the power to insert an amendment to any appropriations bills that allows them, by virtue of Republican whim, to unilaterally fire any federal employee or cut their pay down to $1 dollar; depending on how vengeful the individual lawmaker or group happens to feel on a given day.

Democrats in the House, particularly those representing districts with large numbers of federal employees, said the rule was reinstated for malicious reasons. For example, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said that Republicans revived the rule solely to “undermine civil service employee protections by stripping away necessary [workplace and employment] safeguards.

Connolly rightly labeled the measure “the Armageddon Rule,” and revealed the real reason Republicans unilaterally revived a rule for their campaign donors’ benefit. Mr. Connolly stated the obvious that it’s “a backdoor way for Republicans to dismantle the federal workforce.” One would add that it is also a backdoor way to eviscerate federal workplace protections the Holman rule supersedes.

The national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, J. David Cox Sr., condemned the Republicans’ move saying:

The so-called Holman Rule undermines civil service protections for the millions of working people who process our Social Security checks, safeguard our borders, support our military, research cures for deadly diseases, and carry out programs and services that are vital to our nation. Reviving this rule means lawmakers will be able to cut the pay and jobs of individual workers or groups of workers without getting input from the agencies where these employees work.”

Democrats also said they feared the rule gives Republicans the tools to root out individual federal workers who hold views or perform work that is not favored by the Trump, the Kochs or the religious right. Remember that a couple of weeks ago Trump’s transition team demanded the names of any Department of Energy employee who worked on the Paris climate accord. Trump’s people also wanted the names of individual State Department employees who worked on gender equality or proposals to advance women’s right around the world.

Representative Connolly actually got around to citing precisely what the teabagger-incited Holman resurrection is meant to achieve for the Koch brothers and their partners in government ownership, the religious right. He said:

The Republican Rules package provides them with the surgical tools necessary to reach into the inner workings of the federal government and cut away each part and employee that runs afoul of their ideological agenda. This, coupled with the President-elect’s proposed federal hiring freeze and the nomination of individuals to head agencies they openly oppose, could be devastating to the critical mission of the federal government.”

It is important to note, for the ten-thousandth time, that “devastating the mission of the federal government” is now, and has always been, the overarching goal of the Koch brothers. That religious Republicans can reach in and “cut away” employees that dare “run afoul of their ‘religious’ agenda” is a value-added bonus and yet another religious threat to Americans’ freedoms. What the new rule means is that no civil servant’s job is secure unless they agree with the current majority in Congress, the religious right, the Koch brothers and the tyrant Trump’s nasty agenda.

This “new rule” for Republicans serves a purpose that is beyond what they need to slash government to death. Since they control all three branches and have Trump appointing department heads with a view toward destroying them, this particular rule is meant to terrorize and intimidate civil servants who may disagree with a Republican or religious agenda. That any individual lawmaker can drag a private citizen before Congress to be interrogated like a common criminal is beyond tyranny. That they can summarily fire a civil servant on a whim, or cut their pay to $1 is more than tyranny; it is forcing them to work under duress or what normal people call blackmail.