DimWit Politics

Has Sen. McCaskill Read the Constitution?

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Has Sen. McCaskill Read the Constitution?

Has Sen. McCaskill Read the Constitution?
March 16
18:45 2018

In a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill pushed forward one of the left’s favorite themes – that President Trump is obstructing justice and witness tampering by criticizing the Department of Justice.

McCaskill accused Trump of not understanding the historical separation of politics and law enforcement – and that the DOJ is to be considered an independent agency. That sounds like a very cogent statement by a lawyer/politician.

What McCaskill fails to understand is that everyone would like to keep politics out of law enforcement. In fact, we would like to keep politics out of anything to do with government. But that would be asking that politics be taken out of politics. Politics and governance, including law enforcement, are inseparable Siamese twins.

If we start with the Constitution, McCaskill would know that the Attorney General is hired by the president. For sure, the Senate must confirm that appointment, but that is merely to prevent an outrageous appointment. It does not take away the authority of the president – although it does politicize the process.

Once confirmed, the Attorney General works for and can be dismissed by the president, period. The AG does not report to the Congress. Whether it is good politics or not, the president has the authority to direct the DOJ to launch investigations or end them. In a very real sense, the president is the top federal law enforcement official in America. Because the president can end investigations, some constitutional scholars argue that he cannot be charged with obstructing them – a yet unresolved question.

President Nixon suffered politically from firing the Watergate Special Prosecutor, but no constitutional scholar challenged his right to do so. The anti-Trump media has repetitiously and erroneously reported, more by conjecture than fact, that Trump was about to fire Mueller, Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and even Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While that might be a politically fatal move – or not – no one challenges the president’s authority to do so.

Recently, when some in Congress were considering legislation that would prevent Trump from firing Mueller, they ran smack-dab into the pesky old Constitution. It would be an abuse of congressional power to limit the president from what the Constitution and law say he has the authority to do.

What is noteworthy in McCaskill’s purely partisan political statement – that Trump violates a long tradition of Justice Department independence – is that it’s historically inaccurate. Like every other member of the president’s Cabinet, the Attorney General is and has been both a sworn defender of the Constitution and the rule of law, but with a significant loyalty to the president — officially and personally. The DOJ often goes to court on behalf of the president and his policies.

If McCaskill were a better student of political history, she would recall the days of J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the FBI – an agency that reports to the Attorney General. She would know how Attorney General Henry Stanbery remained loyal to southern Democrat President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War. He even resigned as AG to defend Johnson from removal after the president’s impeachment.

All four of Franklin Roosevelt’s Attorney Generals supported FDR’s often dubious expansion or abuse of the president’s authority. President Kennedy put his brother, Robert, in as his AG and both pressured FBI Director Hoover to dig up dirt on Martin Luther King. Subsequently, Lyndon Johnson met frequently with J. Edgar Hoover to keep apprised of investigations without so much as a peep out of his appointed AGs.

Janet Reno played defense against Bill Clinton’s impeachment and Senate trial. There were no special prosecutors named to “independently” address a number of the president’s legal issues. President Obama’s AG, Eric Holder, carried the president’s water on some issues – pushing back (meaning refuse to investigate) a number of potential scandals, including voter intimidation by ACORN, Benghazi, Russian collusion over uranium and the Fast and Furious guns-for-gangbangers program. In the latter case, Holder’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigators nearly got him a criminal contempt charge. He was also accused of obstruction of justice which remains an open investigation to this day.

An Attorney General doing what a president desires, or what protects the president politically, is commonplace. Standing up against a president is almost unheard of – and maybe that is okay. If we take away the elected president’s control over the Department of Justice, where does the power reside? It resides in that amorphous bureaucracy often referred to as the Deep State. Despite an occasional problem or two, I prefer to have our government leaders respond to the will of the people – not protected from it.

So, Senator McCaskill, do a little reading before you misinform the people about American history and the importance of accountability through the election process.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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1 Comment

  1. thinkr2
    thinkr2 July 01, 21:13

    Good points. I note that there have been no attempts to refute any of them.

    So of course, they will be ignored by most people.

    Reply to this comment

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