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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 11/25/19

The End of the Rule of Law

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Bruce Fein, a former senior official in the Department of Justice and a constitutional scholar, has identified 12 impeachable offenses committed by Donald Trump. But, as he notes, many of these constitutional violations are not unique to the Trump administration. They have been normalized by Democratic and Republican administrations. These long-standing violations are, for this reason, ignored by Democratic Party leaders seeking to impeach the president. They have chosen to focus exclusively on Trump's attempt to get the Ukrainian president to open an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in exchange for $400 million in U.S. military aid and a visit by the Ukrainian leader to the White House. Ignoring these institutionalized violations during the impeachment inquiry, Fein fears, would legitimate them and lead to the death of democracy.

In a letter on Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also signed by Ralph Nader and Louis Fisher, Fein warns that Trump is "shattering our entire constitutional order." He lists as the president's most serious constitutional violations the "defiance of congressional subpoenas and oversight; spending billions of dollars on a southern border wall not appropriated for that purpose; continuing or expanding presidential wars not declared by Congress; exercising line-item veto power; flouting the Emoluments Clause; and, playing prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill any person on the planet based on secret, unsubstantiated information." But he also notes that many of these violations are not unique to Trump and were also carried out by Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

"Many of the Democrats in the past have been complicit in these violations," Fein said when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. "They have unclean hands. They have acquiesced in illegal surveillance, as revealed by Edward Snowden. The most serious constitutional violations are the ones that are institutional usurpations. These usurpations [by both parties] have permanently weakened, if not eviscerated, the power of the legislature versus the executive."

"We have a Congress whose members, by and large, do not want the responsibilities the Constitution entrusts them with," Fein continued. "They like to give away everything to the president and then clamor if something goes bad. The most worrisome constitutional violations are, unfortunately, ones many members of Congress rejoice in. It enables them to escape making hard choices that might compromise their ability to win reelection. But you can't rely on a past dereliction to justify its perpetuation indefinitely."

"If we take a narrow approach to impeachment, that will mean that all the more egregious violations will be viewed as having been endorsed and not rebuked and successive presidents will feel they have a green light to emulate Trump on everything except a Ukrainian shakedown," Fein said. "This is dangerous for the country. This could boomerang, even if we get rid of Trump, by endorsing these usurpations forever. This would be a return to a one-branch government like the monarchy we overthrew in 1776. The unwitting result is to further the [power of the] executive rather than diminish it, which is what should be happening."

Bush and Obama bequeathed to us nine illegal wars, if we include Yemen. None were declared by Congress, as is demanded by the Constitution. Bush placed the entire U.S. public under government surveillance in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which makes it a crime for the government to surveil any American citizen without authorization by statute. Under the Executive Order 10333 the president spies on Americans as if they were foreigners, although this surveillance has not been authorized by statute. Bush embarked on a global program of kidnapping and torture, including of foreign nationals, which Obama continued. Bush and Obama carried out targeted assassinations, usually by militarized drones, across the globe. And Obama, reinterpreting the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Act, gave the executive branch the authority to assassinate U.S. citizens. The killings began with drone strikes on the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and, two weeks later, his 16-year-old son. Such a violation denies U.S. citizens due process. By signing into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, Obama -- whose record on civil liberties is even more appalling than Bush's gutted the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force.

These two presidents, like Trump, violated treaty clauses that required Senate ratification. Obama did this when he signed the Iran nuclear deal and Trump did this when he walked away from the deal. Bush and Obama, like Trump, violated the appointments clause of the Constitution by appointing people who were never confirmed by the Senate as required. The three presidents, to override Congress, all routinely abused their right to use executive orders.

At the same time the courts, a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate power, have transformed the electoral system into legalized bribery through the Citizens United ruling, handed down by the Supreme Court in 2010. Corporations pouring unlimited money into elections was interpreted by the court as the right to petition the government and a form of free speech, essentially overturning the people's rights by judicial fiat. Also, the courts have steadfastly refused to restore basic constitutional rights including our right to privacy and due process. "The constitutional rot is in all three branches," Fein said.

The 12 impeachable offenses committed by Trump and singled out by Fein are:

1. Contempt of Congress

Trump made clear his contempt of Congress when he boasted, "... I have Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president."

"President Trump has repeatedly and unconstitutionally systematically undermined the congressional oversight power, including the ongoing congressional impeachment inquiry of the President himself, by instructing numerous current and former White House staff and members of the executive branch to defy congressional subpoenas on an unprecedented scale far beyond any previous President," Fein wrote to Pelosi. "Without congressional authority, he has secretly deployed special forces abroad and employed secret guidelines for targeted killings, including American citizens, based on secret unsubstantiated information. He has unconstitutionally endeavored to block private persons or entities from responding to congressional requests or subpoenas for information, e.g., Deutsche Bank. He has refused to provide Congress information about nepotistic or other security clearances he granted in opposition to his own FBI security experts. He has refused to disclose his tax returns to the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee contrary to a 1924 law, 26 U.S.C. 6103 (f)."

2. Abuse of the Powers of the President and Abuse of Public Trust

"Unlike prior presidents, he has made presidential lies as routine as the rising and setting of the sun, confounding civil discourse, truth and public trust," the memo to Pelosi reads. "He has disrespected, belittled, and serially preyed upon women, mocked the disabled, incited violence against the mainstream media and critics, and encouraged and displayed bigotry towards minorities and minority Members of Congress, including intercession with Israel in serious violation of the Speech or Debate Clause, Article I, section 6, clause 1, to deny two Members visitor visas."

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Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

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4 people are discussing this page, with 4 comments  Post Comment

Lance Ciepiela

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Yes, indeed, the end of 'the rule of law' in the 21st Century - W Bush is 'above the law'. No one has brought him to justice under our laws and treaties - #VERDICT 'they acted with deceit and with falsehood'. The AUMF2001 'never authorized' all or even one of W Bush's lies about Iraq and a 'too timid to impeach' Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had 'refused to impeach' two Republican Presidents 'on her watch' thereby 'ditching the rule of law' for the American People for the two Republican presidents. That was #911NeverForget - it is "beyond any doubt" that explosives - not plane impacts and fires alone - destroyed the three World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. W Bush - thirty five Articles of Impeachment/Trump - twenty two Articles of Impeachment.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 1:19:45 AM

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Here is an article that explains one of the major changes in American society that will have an impact on voting patterns and the power of the nation's two political parties:

click here

This factor also goes a long way to explaining the growing political divide in the United States.

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 1:14:58 PM

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Mrs. Fuxit

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DONALD TRUMP's grandfather was a draft dodger, from Germany, who ran away to operate a saloon and whorehouse in America.

DONALD TRUMP's father sent him to New York Military Academy, where he was known as a ladies man. With a good surgeon, he can become a lady boy, after Congress has it's way with him. See hog butchering chart at top of this article!

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 2:13:17 PM

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I overheard someone... talking about a friend of theirs overhearing a phone conversation in the next booth, last Thursday...or Tuesday...., anyway., he..or was it she ? heard Fiona Hill used to know Christopher Steele back in the day he was fabricating the dossier financed by HRC at DNC. But she doesn't know him any more. Anyway, BIG BIG money has been fleeced by the swamp out of Ukraine since the USAID/Nuland coup and that any number of deepsnake will lie like flat fish to distract every possible connection - including a pretend impeachment...dredging up fanatics who see Russia as 'the great adversary' and this Vindman, who is key man between Adam Schiff and Eric CIA merilla !Yeah. Lutsenko says Yovanovitch raised the names of Ukrainians she did not want to see prosecuted during their first meeting in 2016! Yeah. I know. Trump WANTs the trial in the senate to nail Biden/Obama/Clinton and especially BRENNAN to the mast head for what they did in Syria and Libya and how they screwed rule-of-law. But, about the 'End-of' rule of law,' something about a Judge down at Guantanamo - Puhll ??? Pohl ?? who conspired with the prosecution of KSM to destroy evidence in mitigation of KSM, and lie to defence that that evidence would be protected by him ? Can you imagine that !? For over a year pretended the evidence was protected, while knowing it was destroyed ??

Biggest joke of all was they reckoned Jeffrey EPSTEIN didn't even kill himself !

Submitted on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 at 10:21:10 PM

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