Sunday, May 26, 2019

Declawed special prosecutor: A mockery of independence and justice

Here's today's predictable nightmare when legislation imprisoned the Special Prosecution role under the Dept. of Justice. Or more accurately, in Trumpian times the slavish Dept. of Injustice and Coverup.

Image Credit: NY Mag

Contradiction rules when this lawless administration investigates itself

What more dramatically dooms transparency, independence and accountability than when a White House hack judges the malfeasance of his own boss – confirmed now as history’s top unindicted co-conspirator? Justice is indeed blinded when a criminal president’s handpicked Attorney General (AG) commandeers the presentation of his serial wrongdoing.

We’re beyond determining guilt, now shifting into the penalty phase, if any. Talk about your “jury” of peers! Or when “special” turns into “rigged.” Next up, only fellow ex-cons should make up juries when their buddies are put on trial.

Benighted lawmakers must have concocted today’s “independent” Special Prosecutor (SP) status – subservient to the very administration it’s tasked to sanitize. Does “independent” not mean free of self-interest and direct control from the target wrongdoer? How can such blunted scrutiny reform alleged government abuses, what exactly initiated this “special” prosecution? That allows the Mueller report, depicting top ten obstruction of justice violations, to get obstructed itself by corrupt lawyering and byzantine indirections. Does not this mockery of justice undermine the ultimate check on abuse – impeachment and trial – by burying the most damning evidence?

Because all SP reports depend on the good faith of the AG to see the light of day, we thus have an unjust coverup of many obstructions of justice. Need we more proof this self-entitled president scoffs at rules and legal forms, insulting both Congress and the rule of law? The only thing worse than a lawless president is the criminal who gets away with it, time and again. And that’s one inevitable outcome until we transform the Special Prosecutor’s authority – answering either to Congress or an independent authority immune from immediate pressure (retired, balanced federal judges, for example).

Where’s the campaign outrage?

You’d think, with all the brouhaha over this double-whammy obstruction of justice – ten times by Trump, ongoing by AG Barr –  Democratic candidates would be screaming to reform the Special Prosecutor. I’ve heard no such demands yet, despite the rampant failure to 1) yet secure transparency so that Congress sees the full Mueller; and 2) the gross contradiction of an independent prosecutor “gated” by an illegitimate president and his cherry-picked operative in ruthless protection mode.

Worse still, though perfectly consistent, is Trump’s Constitution-wrecking opposition to having the exited White House counsel or the Special Prosecutor testify when Congress so orders. Trump will eventually lose his feather-weight “executive privilege” objections (at least with Mueller) but weeks have already passed, during which fabricated distortions rule the airways, with upcoming months of delay and deflection. This morass of presidential ploys speaks to how handcuffed is any Special Prosecutor by a devious White House. The more lawless the president, the more inevitable will be a continuum of nasty obstructionism.  We’re already in Act 3: formulaic and legalistic obstructions to shield Barr’s opening obstruction to a report on Trump’s multiple obstructions. 

This is today’s predictable nightmare when legislation imprisoned the Special Prosecution role under the Dept. of Justice. Or more accurately, in Trumpian timed the slavish Dept. of Injustice and Coverup.  Nixon would leer with envy, amazed  at the dodgy ways a dumber, amateur president can play the system.  Of course, that’s what Trump, the serial bankrupt even able to outhustle tricky Dick, has done all his life – blundering into disaster and saved by his father, or pliant district attorneys, or ripped off banks or partners dreading publicity after their humiliating sucker-dom.

Redefining ‘special’ & ‘prosecution’

No wonder this Special Prosecutor treated presidential abuses with such wariness on collusion.  To its credit, the Mueller team prosecuted and jailed a revelatory array of Trump’s fellow law-breakers.  Nothing better dispels Trump’s painful deception of picking only the “best people.” Full-spectrum Trump derangement – where willful ignorance battles for supremacy with untethered arrogance – emerges from a pathological ineptness that resulted in the greatest number of egregious picks by any president.

So not only does Trump go down as America’s most shielded elected figure  – until he leaves office! – but historians will struggle hard to explain how even this icon of inept governance managed to find so many woeful lackeys. Nothing “self-impeaches” this presidency more than abysmal appointments, the extraordinary number of would-be convicts he embraced (and like Manafort still embraces), and the equally telling, matchless resolving door with dozens dumped, racing for the exits, or staying long enough to destroy career reputations.

Robert Mueller, especially after his Congressional testimony and the disclosure of his full report (at least to Congress), will not be besmirched by Trumpery.  Despite curiously absolving Trump’s campaign from noxious Russia collusion, Mueller’s legacy is settled by finding ten obstruction of justice episodes.  TEN?!  Times are scary when Trump’s illegality dwarfs the next most criminal president, Dick Nixon. Any upward “arc of justice” is broken when we anticipate Trump may well outdo the lesser malefactor – and finish his term. The ultimate jury is still out on whether today’s discredited Republicans will ever force a Nixonian resignation – or who can possibly convince the Deluder-in-chief that stepping down is the better part of valor. Federal pardons won’t do. 

Let’s never underestimate Trump’s character flaws: insatiable boredom with what befuddles him (quite a lot), mixed with zero patience for high frustration, and considerable, periodic rage. Can he come to understand the prospect that the longer he stays, the worse his legacy? Or destructive impact on the GOP? Extreme narcissists find reality so disturbing they find endless ways of denial and self-delusion. And will Trump listen to “disloyal” Republicans when they scream imminent disaster? A besieged president who knows not when to resign – and with unchecked delusions of grandeur – becomes a monumental world danger.  Yes, I still say this looks to end badly, though one potential positive looms: a new Special Prosecutor law that grants future investigations independence and transparency – even freedom from totally predictable, illegal obstructionism.

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.
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