Saturday, June 17, 2017

GateHouse: The irony of an expanding obstruction probe

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
June 16, 2017
A grim pall hangs over the White House. As the Russian investigation evolves into a probe of obstruction of justice by the president of the United States the irony seems lost on Donald Trump.
A grim pall hangs over the White House. As the Russian investigation evolves into a probe of obstruction of justice by the president of the United States the irony seems lost on Donald Trump.
This week the Washington Post and New York Times, both reported that the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking interviews with current, and recently resigned intelligence officials.
Questions have been raised about whether Trump sought the help of National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, to derail the FBI investigation led by former FBI Director James Comey.
To date, the penultimate White House scandal is Watergate. Then President Richard Nixon had incriminating audio recordings that he refused to turn over to the independent counsel Archibald Cox. He fired Cox in an effort to curtail the investigation. The tapes led in part to Nixon’s resignation.
President Trump has talked of tapes that could refute the allegation that he tried to influence Comey before he fired him. In fact, Trump used the threat of tapes to try and muzzle Comey. However, instead of providing those tapes to congress or the public they remain unheard, unseen, unverified. The lack of tapes could lead to a host of unfortunate scenarios for the president.
Nixon was the poster child for the adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime. Now 43 years later, Trump -- and America -- may have to learn that lesson all over again.
Unfortunately, the irony and significance of history seems to hold little sway with President Trump. This is a president that thinks the Civil War could have been avoided if the country would have listened to President Andrew Jackson, who died 16 years before the war began. He also spoke of Frederick Douglass as though he were still alive, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.” Douglas has been dead for 123 years.
The evidence of a cover-up continues to mount. Trump has admitted the Russia investigation motivated him to fire Comey; Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn; Trump’s not-so-veiled threat to Comey about possible tapes of their conversations; Trump demanded that Comey pledge loyalty to him; and now the revelations that Trump may have enlisted other administration officials to influence Comey.
Consider Dana Milbank’s commentary in the Washington Post summing up Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey’s account of why he wrote extensive, real-time notes of his conversations with President Trump. “The nature of the person,” Comey explained, “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”
Here is the real irony as Milbank continued:
Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 68, “that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single state; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of president of the United States.”
Hamilton, a man who lived in turbulent political times -- he was killed in a duel with the sitting vice-president -- could not fathom America in its current predicament.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.
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