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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 11/12/18

If Trump and Whitaker Undermine the Mueller Investigation, That's an Impeachable Offense

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From The Nation

Do not mourn the end of Jeff Sessions. But recognize that the motivation for Trump's removal of Sessions points to a constitutional crisis.

Jeff Sessions is gone. Good. He was a lousy attorney general, who should have been impeached by the House, tried by the Senate, and removed from his position for lying to the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. Sessions avoided accountability by recusing himself from further involvement with the inquiry into alleged ties between Trump's business and Trump's campaign to Russian interests.

The fact that Sessions is no longer attorney general is not a constitutional crisis. But stark indications regarding the motivation for President Trump's removal of Sessions as the nation's chief law-enforcement officer -- and, make no mistake, Sessions stood down at Trump's behest -- points to a constitutional crisis.

In a move that legal scholars suggest was unconstitutional, the president replaced Sessions with political operative Matthew Whitaker, as part of what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein recognizes as "a coup by the President of the United States against administration of justice and rule of law in the United States."

Bernstein, who has considerable experience with the abuses of presidential power, is making the right distinction when he focuses on Trump's efforts to manipulate the response of the Department of Justice to Robert Mueller's inquiry into wrongdoing by the Trump campaign. "Sure," the veteran Washington observer says, "[Trump] has the authority to appoint anybody in the executive branch. But the purpose of this appointment is to undermine the special counsel's investigation, to bury it, to manipulate it, to make sure that he controls it. And that he does not have the authority to do under our constitutional system."

It is this understanding of the president's machinations that brought tens of thousands of Americans into the streets Thursday night -- from big cities to small towns in states across the country -- in what amounted to a truly national outcry against the threat to the Mueller inquiry. This list of communities that responded to the "Nobody Is Above the Law -- Mueller Protection Rapid Response" call from a coalition of groups -- including Public Citizen, Common Cause, MoveOn, Indivisible, and dozens of other groups -- extended from Fairbanks, Alaska to Key West, Florida.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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