Well, at least this was labeled an Opinion piece, rather than the ostensibly straight news story in which The Washington Post claimed that Fox News was a gateway drug to Ben Shapiro, and that Mr Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, was a gateway drug to antiSemitic violence.
But even the Post’s brief bio of William S Cohen is misleading. The bio stated that Mr Cohen “is a former Republican congressman, senator and defense secretary who served on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 during the Watergate impeachment inquiry.” That’s technically true, but fails to note that Mr Cohen served as Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, not under a Republican. Mr Cohen is yet another of those Republican #NeverTrumpers, and endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016.
By William S. Cohen | May 29, 2019 | 1:53 PM
Even the title — which may have been written by a Washington Post editor rather than Mr Cohen — is misleading: Republicans have not been silent on President Trump, with 88% of Republicans voting for him in 2016 and even now, following three years of unrelenting trashing of him in the credentialed media, the President enjoys the support of 88% of Republicans.
Now that Robert S. Mueller III has broken months of silence, declined informal invitations to appear before Congress and said that his 448-page report “is my testimony,” it now falls to lawmakers to take the next steps, if any, in the matter of President Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been hesitant to initiate impeachment proceedings against Trump. Her caution is well placed.
Impeachment is an extraordinary political remedy under the Constitution. The democratic process by which we elect a president is defined by passion and partisanship, but any effort to remove that leader is likely to be unsuccessful if it is similarly motivated. As an English lord chancellor once wrote, “The power of impeachment ought to be, like Goliath’s sword, kept in the temple, and not used but on great occasions.”
All who are elected or appointed to high office are fiduciaries of the public trust. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo once described the standard of a fiduciary’s conduct to be “something stricter than the morals of the marketplace. Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive.”
With the exception thus far of Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Republicans have taken the position that Mueller’s redacted report has resolved all issues of alleged presidential collusion with the Russians and obstruction of justice. Case closed.
And the Republicans are correct. Mr Mueller spent $35 million during a two-year-long investigation, in which he hired 19 partisan Democrats as assistant attorneys, interviewed 500 witnesses and issued 2,800 subpoenas, and was still unable to find evidence against Mr Trump that amounted to something which would justify an indictment.
Mr Mueller decided to speak yesterday, in which he said that the written report was his report, and he added almost nothing new. One thing that he did do was state, “If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
This is something that no responsible prosecutor would ever say, and is actually prohibited under American Bar Association rules: no prosecutor may make statements which prejudice public opinion about a subject under investigation whom he had not chosen to indict. “As a series of cases makes clear, there is ordinarily ‘no legitimate governmental interest served’ by the government’s public allegation of wrongdoing by an uncharged party, and this is true ‘regardless of what criminal charges may . . . b[e] contemplated by the Assistant United States Attorney against the [third-party] for the future,’” states DOJ’s formal policy manual on the duties of federal prosecutors and principles of federal prosecutions.
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall, except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6 or this Rule.
Mr Cohen then gives us several paragraphs comparing the situation today to President Nixon’s problems following the Watergate burglary, stating that several Republicans — then in a significant minority in both Houses of Congress — became persuaded that the President had committed crimes worthy of impeachment. But in making that comparison, the former Representative who was then a member of the House Judiciary Committee has ignored the very obvious fact that Mr Mueller was unable to develop any significant evidence that Mr Trump, either during the 2016 campaign or afterward as President, has done that.
In the end, six Republicans nonetheless felt compelled to place loyalty to the rule of law above our political affiliation and political futures. We concluded that Nixon clearly had engaged in obstruction of justice and abuse of power.
The silence of Republicans today in the face of presidential behavior that is unacceptable by any reasonable standard is both striking and deeply disappointing.
And here is where Mr Cohen’s position clearly fails. When it came to President Nixon, Republicans were persuaded by actual criminal actions; when it comes to today, a long, expensive investigation heavily staffer by people who were opponents of Mr Trump still failed to find sufficient evidence of crimes committed.
Instead, Mr Cohen labels the President guilty of “presidential behavior that is unacceptable by any reasonable standard.” Let me translate that for you: Mr Cohen’s complaint is that President Trump is an [insert slang term for the rectum here].
Well, yes, he is! Mr Trump is not one of the go-along-to-get-along Republicans of the High Scott-William-Cohen-Gerald Ford type. The GOP underwent a revolution in 1994, when Representative Newt Gingrich led the GOP away from the terminal niceness which had kept them in a seemingly permanent minority status to the combative GOP that the voters wanted to see. The Republicans who voted for Mr Trump in the primaries wanted a fighter, wanted an [insert slang term for the rectum here] as President, wanted a President who would actually try to do what he promised to do, and who would not meekly surrender to Democrats who were already in full combat mode.
Does anyone think that the Democrats weren’t in full fighting mode when the younger George Bush was President? Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee was hardly being all sweetness and light when he said, of President Bush, “I can’t believe I’m losing to this idiot.” Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) were hardly being deferential to President Bush when they opposed his Supreme Court nominations, even one as uncontroversial as John Roberts.
In 2009, Republicans supported President Barack Obama’s nomination of Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to become Secretary of State, with her being confirmed by a vote of 94-2. When it came to President Trump’s cabinet nominees, the Democrats attempted to filibuster every one of them, whether controversial or not. Is it any wonder that Republican voters wanted a real fighter?
Congress should not turn away from the central issue of whether Trump has, in word and deed, engaged in conduct that is fundamentally inconsistent with, and antithetical to, the highest office in the land.
Mr Cohen’s complain is that Mr Trump is a meanie, as though that’s somehow an impeachable offense. His problem is that yes, Republicans have not been silent on President Trump; today’s Republicans like what the President has done and is trying to do. And his problem is that Mr Cohen, three months away from his 79th birthday, has been left in the past, a relic who would rather see Democrats in power than a Republican who is trying to do what the rank-and-file of the Republican Party want done.
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