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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/5/19

The Process of Holding Trump Accountable Has Finally Begun

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From The Nation

House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler has moved "to begin the investigations to present the case to the American people about obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power."

Justice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler
Justice Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler
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Presidents are held to account according to a process defined by a Constitution that establishes a system of checks and balances. If there is a Congress that disregards the Constitution, as the United States suffered with during the desultory tenure of House Speaker Paul Ryan, accountability is off the table. If the United States has a Congress that takes its duties to the Constitution and the American people seriously, as it now does with the Democratic majority that voters empowered in November, the checking and balancing will proceed at a pace appropriate to the threat posed by a commander in chief who can no longer be allowed to govern with impunity.

This is not the only way in which a president can be sanctioned, as the remarkable testimony of Michael Cohen to the House Oversight and Reform Committee reminded Americans just last week. A president and his associates can be the subject of an inquiry by a special counsel, such as Robert Mueller, or by the able federal investigators and prosecutors of the Southern District of New York. If half of the inquiries that Cohen discussed come to fruition, there is every reason to believe the Donald Trump will face many days of reckoning.

But the accountability process that is managed by Congress remains the essential one when we are discussing the actions of a sitting president. Once this process has been initiated, the prospect of accountability becomes dramatically more real. Indeed, if this remains a constitutional republic governed by rules and not men, then the congressional processes hold out the possibility that a necessary level of accountability will be achieved during the course of a presidency, not after it is finished.

That necessary level of accountability can take many forms, including the impeachment of a sitting president by the House and conviction by the Senate, resignation in disgrace by a president who fears the process, or defeat at the polls for a president and those members of Congress who thwart a legitimate process.

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