Sessions’ DOJ Defends Trump’s Constitutional Violations

After learning there is another lawsuit against Trump for using the office of the presidency for profit (self-dealing), it is curious whether or not the Trump-Sessions Department of Justice will rush to defend the corrupt swindler again. That is precisely what happened the last time, and if the Sessions-led DOJ repeats what it said just three days ago, it will prove there is a serious malignancy in Trump’s administration, and likely the majority of the Republican movement.

Yesterday the Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit asserting that Trump’s well-documented failure to separate himself from his businesses has undermined public trust and violated constitutional bans against self-dealing. The Maryland and D.C lawsuits fairly reiterate the charges in a lawsuit filed a few months ago in New York by a legal watchdog. In fact, the Trump Department of Justice recently filed a motion to dismiss that earlier lawsuit after spending months concocting a defense.

The real outrage in this insidious affair is that Trump’s Department Of Justice is rushing to defend what it knows is a constitutional violation, and likely “illegal.”  DOJ lawyers attempted to prove that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had no “standing” to bring a lawsuit against Donald Trump because its claim of injury is unjustified.

CREW’s lawsuit was only filed to compel Trump to adhere to the U.S. Constitution and “divest” from his business empire and stop profiting from being in the White House. The legal watchdog is not seeking criminal charges or pecuniary damages; it just wants Trump to stop violating the Constitution by profiting from living in the White House.

The Department of Justice motion to dismiss also claimed that even if Trump “illegally” owns and profits from his business empire while in the White House, it is none of the courts’ business. Instead of the Judiciary Branch doing its job in deciding the merits of a lawsuit, the Justice Department lawyers say it is up to the GOP-controlled Congress to work it out.

The Trump DOJ also said that dealing with another lawsuit would be too much of an impediment on Trump’s ability to perform his presidential duties and would distract him from his busy schedule. The DOJ claims that one branch of government cannot force “such an impairment” on another branch.

CREW said it was still going forward despite the DOJ’s sleazy defense of Trump and its refusal to defend the Constitution. The group said:

It’s clear from the government’s response that they don’t believe anyone can go to court to stop the president from systematically violating the constitution. We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court.

As CREW’s lawsuit noted, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and other countries have held state-sponsored events at Trump’s D.C. hotel, and other entities associated with foreign governments lend money to his businesses or lease space in his properties.

CREW asserted in its lawsuit,”because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments which may seek to curry favor with him, the president has breached the emoluments clause.”

It is noteworthy that Trump has indeed been very “favorable” to Kuwait, Turkey and particularly Saudi Arabia as of late;  including keeping them off his “Muslim majority nation” travel bans because there are mutual investments involved.

It is abominable that instead of upholding, supporting or defending the U.S. Constitution, the one Trump violated the day he swore to uphold the Constitution, the Sessions-Trump Justice Department is defending the violator. And it is attempting to interpret the Constitution by claiming the Emolument Clause just doesn’t apply to Donald Trump because he is a businessman.

The cancer in Trump’s administration is endemic in the Republican Congress; they willfully refuse to support, uphold, and defend the U.S. Constitution. One is hard-pressed to identify even one Republican who is defending the Constitution from Trump’s violations and it is particularly disheartening that the Justice Department, the one agency expected to defend the Constitution, is attacking its legitimacy by defending Trump.

Journalists and Protestors Mourn the Death of the Constitution

It is getting to the point that any American who believes they have rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution had better come to grips with the tragic fact that Donald Trump’s election victory put their constitutionally protected personal freedoms at risk. It is beyond refute that as part of the conservative movement, Republicans have demonstrated time and again that they despise any part of the Constitution that ensures American citizens certain “unalienable rights,” and chief among those most hated by the party’s standard bearer Trump are a free press and the people’s right to peaceably protest.

No-one conscious should be surprised that Trump spent the entirety of the presidential campaign demeaning the press and peaceable protests; he idolizes and heaps praise on the worst and most authoritarian tyrants on the planet. It is hard to determine if Trump hates protestors more than journalists, but he has had little reservation calling for both protestors’ and journalists’ arrests and imprisonment for doing what American citizens believe is their Constitutional right; gather peaceably and do the job they’re paid to do. A bevy of Republican states have legislation pending to criminalize the former and journalists can expect a similar fate if Trump gets his way. This is the new America – Trump’s America – and the way Trump intends to make it great.

The reason these two rights are becoming extinct is because on two occasions within a week a journalist was attacked by a Republican politician and then rewarded with a seat in the House of Representatives, and a gang of foreign thugs attacked and injured peaceable protestors and were rewarded with no arrests. This is the new America – this is Trump’s America –  and it’s the kind of America Trump and his acolytes consider great.

The big story late in the week was a Republican House candidate physically assaulting a reporter for the Guardian without being arrested on the spot; because the county sheriff was a contributor to the bully’s candidacy. One can surmise that the sheriff also contributed to Trump’s campaign. And, like Trump, the Montana Republican lied through his teeth that a reporter attacked him first prompting a “self-defense” claim by the man who said he was “sick of this [journalist’s questions]” as he punched the reporter.

The incident was witnessed and reported on as a completely valid story by a team from Fox News who were “stunned” at the assault on a reporter. It may be one of the only times the GOP’s official party network was not reporting “fake news.” And in what is becoming a troubling trend,  like five of Trump’s lying cabinet appointees who committed perjury under oath before the Senate, Montana’s Republican voters rewarded the candidate with an election victory; likely to send a message to Trump to keep up the good work demonizing the media.

There was another bunch of “brutal attacks” last week, but this time it was peaceful protestors who were assaulted, punched, kicked, choked, and slammed to the ground by a foreign authoritarian’s henchmen; all while American police officers stood by observing American citizens being criminally assaulted by a gang of foreigners – some of them carrying firearms. This too is the new America, Trump’s America, and it’s what Trump meant when he promised to “make America great again;” even though for 238 years journalists and peaceful protestors were protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The New York Times displayed and analyzed a multitude of videos and photographs of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail and Turkish police viciously attacking American citizens for exercising their constitutional right to protest. What the videos and images show are 24 agents of a foreign government who outnumbered protestors two to one leaving their official vehicles to charge into a group of American citizens and attack them; likely what they do as a matter of course in Turkey.

It is plain to see, as the NYT notes, the video and still images leave little doubt that the foreign head of state’s “security guards” attacked peaceful protestors in clear view of the police; not one of the foreigners was charged with a crime. And, there is no doubt the foreign thugs attacking Americans were “members of the [Turkish] president’s security detail and Turkish policeaccording to Turkey’s state-owned news wire, Anadolu Agency; the videos the NYT analyzed were provided by the Turkish news agency people who filmed the assaults.

The incident start when three men left their official vehicles and charged at the protesters. One man knocked two women protestors to the ground, and another man repeatedly punched Lucy Usoyan, a protester, as she lay on the ground. One of the attackers actually acknowledged that he participating in kicking one woman thrown to the ground because,  “I wasn’t paying attention. I thought it was a man. I would never kick a woman.” One of the attacker’s accomplices said that by joining three other men in kicking the woman on the ground, the attacker was just defending himself from female protester he said was a “terrorist.” Interestingly, one Republican has proposed legislation equating peaceable protestors to terrorists; a “slightly” watered-down bill is still in committee.

But regardless the Turkish men’s mendacious remarks and pathetically false excuses of combating terrorists, the man did kick an American woman exercising her constitutional right; his excuse that he “thought it was a man” doesn’t justify his actions no matter that the police and Turkey’s president watched as the thugs attacked American citizens.

One of the Turkish guards grabbed and choked 26 year old Ceren Borazan prior to throwing her on the ground. The foreign agent slammed the American citizen, a young woman, to the ground for exercising her Constitutional right to protest as he was saying “You are dead.” Ms. Borazan told New York Times that, “I felt so awful. As a woman, as an American. Right now I don’t even feel safe here.”

Another woman who was thrown to the ground and kicked repeatedly by several men sustained a concussion leading a doctor to authorize six weeks off from work to recover. The woman said  “I’m glad I’m alive.”

Although the State Department allegedly condemned the episode, and some American lawmakers have called for the foreign agents to be prosecuted, it is likely they will never experience even a minute in the American criminal justice system; this is the new America – this is Trump’s America – and it is what Trump meant when he pledged to make America great again. Great like Nazi Germany, Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt and Russia; all 21st Century nations where journalists and protestors have no Constitution go protect their “unalienable rights” as human beings.

America Is In a Constitutional Crisis And Its Democracy Is In Jeopardy

 

If Americans are paying attention, and they certainly should be, to the state of their government it is jarringly apparent that in Trump’s administration the criminals are running the justice system. It only makes sense because a pack of criminals are running the White House and there is every reason to believe a fair number of criminals are running both houses of Congress. No matter how one appraises the current and rapidly developing decline of American democracy, Trump is responsible for throwing the nation into a constructional crisis.

Were that not the case, that America’s government is compromised on various accounts, Trump would not have terminated Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey to stop the investigation into the Trump-Russian attack on America’s democracy. As noted in a New York Times opinion piece:

It’s now clear that Trump’s Justice Department has no independence. Both Sessions, and Sessions’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, are acting like Trump enforcers. And now the F.B.I. is compromised [or is going to be compromised] as well.”

A conservative columnist at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin, explained why Trump firing Mr. Comey is not only a reason for a very robust and thorough independent investigation, but why Trump can be impeached. Ms. Rubin wrote:

Using one law enforcement body (or set of individuals) to stop another from investigating presidential wrongdoing was the nub of Watergate and the ensuing impeachment proceedings. We do not know whether that is what is at issue here, but Congress has no alternative but to determine why the president acted and why he acted now. That should entail questioning under oath of any persons aware of or involved in the firing process and ultimately an accounting by the president of his own actions.”

It is important to recall that Trump praised Comey just prior to the election and has kept him at his post without issue for nearly four months since his inauguration. According to several reports, what appeared to set Trump off first was Comey’s Senate testimony that he was “mildly nauseous” at the thought of swaying the election to Trump. There are also plenty of credible reports that Mr. Comey was fired for requesting more funding from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to more effectively conduct the investigation into collusion between the Trump cabal and Russia.

It is noteworthy that Rosenstein is in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation at the DOJ because Jeff Sessions was “pressured” to recuse himself over his own undisclosed contact with the Russians during Trump’s campaign; a fact he lied about under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing. That act of perjury is the reason he should be prosecuted and sent to federal prison for five years instead of colluding with Trump to stop the FBI’s investigation.

The question, then, is why did Sessions as Attorney General appeal to Trump to fire Comey for investigating Russian collusion when he is out of the loop on Russian grounds? The White House public statement announcing Comey’s termination plainly puts Sessions in the center of the criminal endeavor. It said, in part:

President Trump acted on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Any sane person can’t possibly believe that Comey’s termination had anything whatsoever to do with the FBI’s handling of the bogus Clinton email affair. One cannot possibly believe it was anything other than Trump’s despotic attempt to put a criminal conspirator in charge of the FBI’s investigation who will join the thugs in the Justice Department, obey Trump’s dictates, and halt the investigation.

As no small number of pundits and commenters have opined, Trump’s action is “a premeditated and terrifying attack on the American system of government” and “ushers in a constitutional crisis.”

Here’s the thing, Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein can claim whatever lie they think the public will believe, but their claims are still lies. Yes, it’s true Americans can be incredibly dense and painfully so, but no-one is as stupid as Trump believes they are. Remember, as late as Monday, Trump took to his press outlet, Twitter, to call for the end of the FBI’s investigation into his administrations collusion with Russia. Trump tweeted:

The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

Within a day, Trump did what a criminal tyrant would do and attempted to put an end to the Trump-Russia collusion story unilaterally, with a little aid from the criminals leading the DOJ. Mr. Comey’s firing was not about emails, or that he wasn’t doing his job. He was terminated because he was doing his job without Trump’s direction and wanted to go deeper; that likely sealed his fate and prompted Trump to do what a tyrannical dictator would do – fire the man investigating him.

Trump was already livid that Comey publicly humiliated him when he summarily dismissed Trump’s paranoid claim that President Obama wire tapped him as “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.” Then Trump seethed that Comey told the Senate he “mildly” felt like throwing up at the idea his actions swayed the general election results. But what likely frightened the life out of Trump was Comey’s request for more funding for the Trump-Russia collusion investigation; a request that certainly means the investigation is not only widening but producing an abundance of evidence.

Now that it looks like Trump will find a sympathetic sycophant to do his bidding at the FBI and deliver the predetermined outcome Trump wants and close the investigation, Congress’ duty to democracy is to reassure the people that Trump is not above the law. That necessitates a robust independent investigation “completely free of Trump’s oversight” and without interference from Trump’s criminal conspirators at the Department of Justice. America’s democracy is in jeopardy and it is in a constitutional crisis, and save a few brave members of Congress it is increasingly apparent that Republicans have little interest in saving the Union from their hero in the White House or themselves.

Bernie Sanders Will Ask President Obama to Withdraw His SCOTUS Nominee

 

 

Anyone who has ever been in a position of authority and responsibility, particularly over a large number of people, comprehends that there are very few decisions that will please everyone; it is just human nature. The idea of “pleasing everyone” becomes even more impossible in politics; especially when it is an Executive Branch decision, and particularly when one political party objects to every decision made by the sitting President.

President Obama likely knew that it wouldn’t have mattered who he nominated to replace Antonin Scalia as an associate justice to the nation’s highest court. In fact, he may not have been very surprised at the instantaneous assertion by Republicans in the Senate that they would not give a fair hearing to any nominee to the Supreme Court. By now, anyone with a pulse is aware that Republicans claim it is not within the current President’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice and that it is the responsibility of the next president.

Now, it has been reported in the mainstream media everywhere that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I, D, VT) said that if he wins the Democratic nomination for president and the general election in November, he will ask President Obama to withdraw his Supreme Court justice nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Apparently, Senator Sanders believes, like every Republican, that the decision to nominate the “right” kind of Supreme Court justice is better left to the next president; but only if it is Bernie Sanders.

Senator Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that, “I think I’m 100 percent prepared to support Judge Garland. I think he’s clearly very knowledgeable and can serve ably on the Supreme Court. But, there are more progressive judges out there.” Sanders insists that any Supreme Court nominee would have to meet his litmus test that entails “being loud and clear that he or she will overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.” So there it is again; expecting a prospective SCOTUS justice to publicly make a political pledge to overturn a prior Court decision that is not before the court as if there is not a regular established process for the nation’s High Court to hear a case.

Likely surprised at the presidential candidate’s naïveté, and audacity, Sanders was asked specifically if he would directly ask President Obama to withdraw Judge Garland’s name, forsake his Constitutional authority and duty as President, to allow Bernie Sanders to nominate a judge because they pledged in advance to overturn a previous SCOTUS ruling; the Vermont senator said, “Yes I would.” Without conflating Senator Sanders’ remarks about him being better qualified to choose the “right” kind of nominee to Republican obstruction for obstruction’s sake, there are a couple of issues worth addressing.

First and foremost; the decision to nominate a prospective Justice is the purview of the current President; whoever wins the November election should not factor in to any Presidential consideration. Second, whoever the current or next president nominates will have to go through the intense and often combative Senate confirmation process. There may well be “more progressive” judges available for the nomination, but it is general knowledge that judges on the federal benches do not wear their politics on the sleeves. It is true all judges have political leanings, but part and parcel of being any kind of judge, much less a Supreme Court justice, is not being blatantly partisan; the deceased Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas notwithstanding.

Putting aside the appearance of audacity and hubris of even expecting a sitting President to withdraw his Supreme Court nominee because he is not progressive enough for the as-yet-unelected or inaugurated next president, there is still a problem with expecting the High Court to overturn a previous decision on partisan political principle. It is an issue that came up a couple of months ago when Senator Sanders said in a Tweet that, “Any Supreme Court nominee of mine will make overturning Citizens United one of their first decisions.”

At first blush that statement reeks of ignorance of the federal judiciary, but it cannot be put down to some campaign underling tweeting out nonsense without Senator Sanders’ knowledge and approval. Last November Senator Sanders said the same thing; “No nominee of mine to the United States Supreme Court will get that job unless he or she is loud and clear that one of their first orders of business will be to overturn Citizens United.”

Senator Sanders is an establishment politician with a quarter century worth of experience in Congress and is very well aware of how the High Court works. Unlike the federal legislature that has the freedom to take up, or blow off, any issue at will, court cases must go through “numerous and lengthy procedural hoops before they can be heard or decided by any court.” This is particularly true of the nation’s highest Court by design of the U.S. Constitution. As noted several times by judicial experts and savvy eighth grade civics students alike; “it would be impossible for any Sanders’ nominee to the High Court to guarantee that any case would be one of their first orders of business and decisions;” especially as an “Associate Justice” on the nine-justice Supreme Court.

The U.S. Constitution contains two significant limits on the justices’ ability to set their own schedule in Article III. Article III limits the federal judiciary’s authority to “cases” or “controversies” that have long been understood to require that two parties that have a genuine conflict with each other before a federal court can intervene and settle the issue.

Even a super-duper newly-appointed progressive justice needs to follow Constitutional procedures and wait for the case they were “loud and clear about overturning” to go through the federal appellate court system. Any semi-knowledgeable civics student knows that “the Constitution provides that the Supreme Court only has appellate jurisdiction over the overwhelming majority of cases.” What that means is that the High Court justices, or one super progressive High Court Justice, cannot decide to consider a matter until after it has been decided and appealed by several lower courts.

What continues to be an unanswered question is exactly how Senator Sanders would convince hardline Republican senators to support and confirm a “more progressive judge” any more than they would support the “socialistic policies” Senator Sanders espouses. It is yet unclear how a different “Democratic” president will fare any better with Republicans in Congress than President Obama, but parroting “political revolution” is not going to be any more convincing or productive.

There are millions of Americans who want the disastrous Citizens United ruling overturned, just like there are a substantial number of evangelical fanatics who want Roe v. Wade overturned; but neither is going to happen because a prospective Supreme Court Justice pledges “loud and clear” that “one of their first orders of business is overturning” _________ (fill-in-the blank). What is also not going to happen is President Barack Obama withdrawing his nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the High Court based on who wins the general election in November, or because Republicans want to make the choice.

No doubt there are more progressive and liberal judges ‘out there’ that the President could have nominated, but he chose a highly-qualified jurist that has a reasonable chance of being confirmed. What bothers many Democrats is that although Senator Sanders said he is certain he will support Merrick Garland’s nomination, “it is still surprising that a politician running for the Democratic presidential nomination has openly criticized the current Democratic president’s nominee.” What is really surprising is why any pundit is surprised that a politician running for the Democratic presidential nomination is still openly criticizing the current Democratic President at all.