Whether or not Republicans, including our Representative, are willing to speak up against Mr. Trump’s pushing on the limits of democracy, we need to speak up. As many political pundits have noted, Mr. Trump’s statements and behaviors this past week seem to indicate that he is toying with ideas on how to squash or discredit Mr. Mueller’s Russia investigation. If there is no or not enough of a push-back, the odds greatly increase that Mr. Trump will pursue one of his tactics, which unequivocally will weaken our democracy. Having an outcry after he has done the action, while important, cannot rewind time and retroactively protect the separation of powers, which are integral to our democracy.
Representative Hunter has made no public statements on this matter. In fact, his last official statement on Mr. Trump and Russia was on May 17th of this year entitled, “Hunter: Let President Trump try to work with Russia” (https://hunter.house.gov/hunter-let-president-trump-try-work-russia). Thus it is important that we are a voice of wisdom for Rep. Hunter and urge him to take a stand against the unethical acts Mr. Trump is toying with. Let us urge Rep. Hunter to warn Mr. Trump that there is such a thing as going too far. (If you need a dose of encouragement about contacting our oh so not receptive Representative: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/07/21/the_resistance_is_already_planning_for_when_trump_fires_robert_mueller.html).The acts we want Rep. Hunter to speak up against are Mr. Trump trying to have Attorney General (AG) Sessions resign or firing him, striving to discredit the Mueller investigation and potentially pardoning all those involved in the Russia debacle.
The reason for getting AG Sessions out of the way is that contrary to Mr. Trump’s opinion, the Special Counsel position i.e. Mr. Mueller reports to the AG and only the AG (or in this case the Deputy AG, since Mr. Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation) can terminate the Special Counsel; hence if Mr. Trump wants Mr. Mueller fired Trump needs to replace Mr. Sessions (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/07/23/sessions-may-be-trumps-achilles-heel/?utm_term=.25512873b8b3). The President’s initial attempt at pushing Mr. Sessions to resign came in Mr. Trump’s now famous New York Times articles from July 19th, where Mr. Trump gave a vote of no confidence on Mr. Sessions by stating that Mr. Trump would not have hired Mr. Sessions had Trump known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-sessions-russia.html). Another, potential, effort to push Mr. Sessions out of office is the recently leaked information that Mr. Sessions spoke with the Russian Ambassador about policy issues during the campaign – and hence lied under oath to the Senate (http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/07/21/sessions-discussed-trump-campaign-related-matters-with-russian-ambassador-intelligence-intercepts-show/TXVDiLIOQFbJ09pSf4MGwI/story.html?p1=BGMenu_Article).
The second avenue of inappropriate behaviors is the Administration’s attempts at discrediting Mr. Mueller and the investigation. There are two arms of this approach, the first is stating that Mr. Mueller’s appointment is illegitimate and the second is claiming that there are egregious conflicts of interest within the Special Counsel’s team. The supposed illegitimacy of Mr. Mueller being the Special Counsel has to do with Mr. Mueller having been interviewed for the position of FBI Director and the fact that Mr. Mueller worked with and knows Mr. Comey. When this, faulty, logic is expressed by Trump allies it is never explained why these facts make Mr. Mueller’s position illegitimate. The argument that campaign contributions are conflicts of interest is erroneous in that making a campaign contribution is specifically not on the Justice Department’s list of identified conflicts of interests. In addition to pushing these spurious claims, the Administration is actively digging through the backgrounds and lives of the Special Counsel’s team in order to find damaging information. Sources: http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343164-trump-launches-all-out-assault-on-mueller-probe; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/us/politics/donald-trump-robert-mueller-russia-investigation.html; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html?utm_term=.040ab9ae3a0f; http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-pardon-power-amid-white-houses-escalating-war-on-russia-probe-2017-7.
The final concerning action of Mr. Trump’s with regard to the Russia investigation is Mr. Trump’s alleged research into his pardon power alongside his statements that he has total pardon power. It came to light earlier in the week that Mr. Trump was having his legal team look into aspects of his pardoning power, including whether a President can pardon himself. Since this breaking news the Administration has been putting out statements and commentaries intended to change course – the current party line is that of course the President is not looking into this and why would he need to pardon anyone since the whole Russia issue is all made-up anyways, to quote Mr. Trump, “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/23/politics/donald-trump-pardon/index.html). Additional articles on this issue: http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-trump-tweets-that-president-has-1500725784-htmlstory.html, http://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/343369-talk-of-trump-pardons-reverberates-on-sunday-shows, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/us/politics/donald-trump-jeff-sessions.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/the-latest-trump-asserts-pardon-power-in-morning-tweets/2017/07/22/c6a5f28a-6f40-11e7-abbc-a53480672286_story.html?utm_term=.f9a7b09d2961, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-lawyer-open-question-president-pardon/story?id=48791366. Regardless of any legal issues regarding the President’s pardon powers, the statements he made about having and using them are a clear message to the Special Counsel’s investigative team that even if they find wrongdoing by Trump and associates, no one will pay any consequences.