Jack Goldsmith writes: In the second month of a new presidency, several bodies in a Congress controlled by the president’s party are conducting high-profile, politically fraught and hard-to-control investigations that potentially implicate current and former administration officials and former campaign officials.
All of these actors and institutions are holding the Trump presidency to account. They are endeavoring to uncover the truth about the manifold Russian mysteries. And they can, if they see fit, take action with effects ranging from publicity and embarrassment to political damage with electoral consequences to criminal prosecution to impeachment if appropriate.
It’s true that the process of accountability is halting and frustratingly slow. But this is as it should be. The stakes could not be higher for our democracy. Ascertaining the truth is vital, and respect for the innocent is as important as identification of wrongdoing. It is thus crucial that the complex and elusive facts be sorted out in a fair and procedurally rigorous manner, and that the law be applied with deliberation and good judgment.
Justice seems elusive here because it is so plodding. But plodding justice is our best chance for a legitimate resolution to this mess. [Continue reading…]
Goldsmith makes a good fiddle tune out of the conflagration, but he misses the most remarkable development: the “system” is formally intact, with its free media, its elections, branches, agencies, and appointees, yet it is visibly functioning in a manner directly contrary to its intended usages, in ways that will inflict horrific damage on a reasonably well-functioning country that is not seriously threatened by external enemies. Does this course of events have any close historical analogs?
When a federal judge in Honolulu who Trump never heard of before can, at the stroke of his pen, block the latest version of the Muslim ban, I’d say the system is more than formally intact — I’d say it’s working quite well.
Trump’s grandiose ambitions keep on colliding with obstacles he can’t remove. Because he’s a blockhead, he doesn’t know how to learn from his mistakes. He backs up a short distance and then drives into the same barriers even harder. His conviction seems to be that brute force always works and that it’s his destiny to always end up the winner.
To some extent, Trump’s conviction is infectious and reinforces the perception that he can get away with anything, but I remain very cautiously optimistic that we will ultimately witness him crash and burn — that his failure will become synonymous with the name Trump.
(Irrepressible optimism? Maybe.)
Of course I have to agree that the judiciary has held up admirably so far — and that Trump in his flailing is likely to crash and burn, though I wouldn’t expect him to be ejected without a major fight.
But the central issue of de facto, catastrophic restructuring through budgeting is under legislative & executive branch control. I’m not seeing seeing how Republican/Trumpite initiatives are constrained in that domain, except by infighting. The question about historical analogs, btw, is meant seriously.
If anyone can answer the question about historical analogs, it won’t be me.
As for the GOP’s potential for infighting, I’d say it’s considerable.