What is all the fuss? Court orders, subpoenas, injunctions, obstructions? In a land far away, once called the New World, a new form of government, a republic, where a head of state is not a monarch, which is conducted with a rule or law and abides by a constitution. Three equal branches of government were devised: the Executive (the president, his advisors and cabinet); Judicial, (Supreme Court and Federal Judicial Center); and Legislative (Congress: House of Representatives and Senate). Separation of powers was devised to assure that no single branch of government would suppress or control the others, thereby having a system of checks and balances. When the executive branch endeavors to suppress the investigations of the other two branches, it is called obstruction of justice or abuse of power. We see such forms of governments in other countries. In these countries leaders rule with absolute authority. We are now witnessing attempts to obstruct justice in our own country. Our president is taking unlawful steps to stop investigations and to ignore congressional subpoenas.
The question now is, What is at stake? What does it matter? Why not “move on?” Central to the Mueller investigation is the security and integrity of our own elections. There is undisputed evidence, even before the Mueller Report, that Russia interfered both in the presidential election in 2016 to support Trump and in the mid-term elections in 2018. This obvious intrusion and interference have been publicly denied by the president even in the face of the findings of our own investigations by the FBI and the CIA. Robert Mueller reports that, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”
The Mueller investigation is complete, but Attorney General William Barr has taken it upon himself to fabricate his own version of the findings rather than release the report and the underlying documentation. Robert Mueller, himself, objected to the Barr statement by personal letter and phone call that the report has been misrepresented to the American people by Barr’s statement. AG Barr lied to congress about this opposition.
There are at least 10 situations demonstrating obstruction of justice mentioned in the Mueller Report already released to the public. If these were committed by anyone other than a sitting president, they would result in charges.
It is because of Barr’s misrepresentation and withholding the full report and underlying evidence that a furor is rising. If there is no evidence of impropriety, there should be no objection.
Senator Mitch McConnell says, “Case closed!” This is like trying to close Pandora’s box. President Trump is trying to do that by demanding an unlawful, expansive executive privilege and asking that all subpoenas to be refused. This is illegal, and telling … what is he trying to hide?
Now that congress is asking for the complete report, AG Barr refuses to comply, even after receiving a subpoena. By refusing to answer the subpoena, he will be charged with contempt. He appears to be acting solely to protect the president rather than the people of the United States. Trump’s declarations of “total exoneration” should welcome full exposure, not resist it. The American people deserve to know the whole truth to assure our democracy and the security of our future elections. Our free elections are the foundations of our government.
Could it be that the one-on-one hour-long conversation, May 3 between our president and our most prominent adversary, Vladimir Putin, was actually discussing plans for Russia’s future support and intrusion? We may never know, as there are no notes from these conversations. We do know that President Trump told the public when asked that he did not warn Putin not to interfere in our elections. He said, “We didn’t discuss it.”
Why would Donald Trump raise an objection to Vladimir Putin for his working on Trump’s behalf? In a tweet he referred to the “Russian Hoax” thereby refuting the concept of Russian interference once more. (The first was at Helsinki last summer).
What is really at stake here is our democracy itself. When we allow the executive branch to thwart investigations made by the other branches, stifle testimony, demand that subpoenas be ignored, prohibit release of documents, we have tyranny, no of justice.
This then is the time for congress, both sides of the aisle, to step up for action. Republicans have sat silently while their own power, their voice in their role to which they were elected, is discounted. The opportunity to stand for democracy and speak truth to power still exists.
This is not about who won the election in 2016. Let’s be sure of one thing – this is not a partisan issue; this is a democracy issue. This is a threat to the essence of our governmental structure. The election of 2016 is over. The results are the results.
Our future elections are at stake. Future elections need be secure, free and fair. The American people need to know the full report so that we can protect our elections and our form of government. Congress must pursue all avenues to get to the full report. Only then can President Trump be exonerated – or impeached.
Ann vonHoorn is a Tideland News contributor.