Forget Harry and Meghan.
People around the world probably thought the marriage of the probable king's second son -- or would it be the probable king's brother? -- would be the biggest development involving royalty in 2018.
But no. We've learned now, with the revelation of a letter from attorneys for the president to special counsel Robert Mueller, that this year's big news in royalty is the coronation of Donald J. Trump.
The New York Times on Saturday reported that Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and then-Trump lawyer John Dowd back in January delivered a 20-page letter to the special counsel arguing that the president could not possibly commit obstruction in the Russia investigation because the Constitution gives him authority to "terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired," the Times reported.
Trump's "actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself," Dowd and Sekulow wrote.
By their reasoning, President Trump and probably some of his closest associates are the modern version of "The Untouchables."
I don't want Trump brought down by an investigation, that is unless he really committed some criminal act that makes it impossible for him to ethically continue as the nation's leader. And by that, I mean ethical as defined by most regular Americans, not the anything goes kinds of ethics practiced by the president and most of the Washington, D.C., crowd.
Despite all the whining we've heard since Election Day in 2016, Trump won the presidency. And, as far as we know, he did it legitimately. If that's the case, it should take a tremendous discovery to undo what the American people did in electing him.
Trump is still president, but he's not King Trump. The country fought a revolution to escape tyranny of a monarch who did not have to answer to anyone, particularly the new Americans in the colonies. The people of the New World chafed under tyrannical rule.
Not long before George Washington took office, the debate over what to call him raged. According to the Smithsonian Institution, titles such as "His Exalted Highness" were actually considered. In true federal government fashion, another suggested was "His Highness the President of the United States of America, and Protector of Their Liberties." Today, the acronym-loving feds would have a "HHPOTUSPOTL." Looks a little too much like hippopotamus to me.
Our American Revolution wasn't about installing a monarch. It was about avoiding the creation of one.
And yet here comes President Trump's attorneys suggesting that the presidency is, in effect, above the law, that because he's the nation's chief law enforcer, no law can be enforced on him.
I get their theory's foundation, I suppose. The elected president, the embodiment of the will of the people through the electoral process, should not be easily thwarted by the simple establishment of allegations of criminal wrongdoing. If it were easy, every president would be deposed by trumped up -- sorry, conjured up -- allegations and special investigations.
But for the American system to represent fairness and justice, no one can be above the law, not even the man in the Oval Office.
What if they're right, that the president cannot actually be held accountable for anything because he's the president? Can it be that our democratic system has only succeeded because the 43 men who preceded Donald Trump chose to treat the office as a heavy responsibility more than an opportunity for self-benefit? Or is it possible for our constitutional government to have mechanisms in place that protect our nation against abuses by the men and women who would be king ... er ... president?
I'm not even necessarily arguing Trump has done anything wrong. But it seems to me entirely un-American to suggest that the nation's top leader can somehow be above all laws, that he can cover any wrongdoing by simply eradicating all investigations or, in the end, pardoning himself.
If Donald Trump tries any of that, I hope even his staunchest supporters can see the long-term impact that will have on our nation and its leadership. What those attorneys have outlined is not the kind of remarkable democratic example I came to respect and admire as a kid and young adult learning about U.S. government.
Commentary on 06/04/2018
Print Headline: Pardon me, Trump argues