Lawless Trump Cannot be Trusted to Lead America to War
Robert Reich * – Newsweek
killing of Qassem Suleimani brings America to the brink of a war with Iran
without any congressional approval, in direct violation of Congress’ war making
authority under the Constitution.
presidents have started wars in reckless disregard of the Constitution, too,
but Trump’s lawlessness is ubiquitous. It characterizes his entire presidency.
Trump’s outing of the person who blew the whistle on his phone call to
Ukrainian President Zelensky—tweeting just after Christmas a link to a
Washington Examiner article headlined with the presumed whistleblower’s name,
and then retweeting a supporter who named the presumed whistle-blower.
outing the whistleblower, Trump had whipped his followers into a lather by
calling the whistleblower a “spy,” guilty of “treason.”
not only imperils the whistleblower’s safety. It violates the purpose of the
whistleblower act, which is to protect people who alert authorities that
government officials are violating the law.
this deeper level that Trump’s lawlessness is most corrosive. From now on,
anyone aware of illegality on the part of a government official, including a
president, will think twice before sounding the alarm.
intrusion into the Navy’s prosecution of Chief Petty OfficerEdward Gallagher on
war crimes has the same corrosive effect.
only stopped the Navy from possibly giving Gallagher a less-than-honorable
discharge. Trump upended the military code of justice, designed for the
military to handle legal violations in its ranks, including war crimes.
Navy SEAL accusers were themselves whistleblowers who broke the SEAL’s code of
silence in order to stop a rogue chief. Now they face recrimination from within
the ranks. From now on, any soldier who witnesses a superior officer committing
possible war crimes will be more reluctant to report them.
Trump’s ongoing intrusions into the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau
of Investigation aren’t just efforts to derail investigations of his
wrongdoing. They’re attacks on the system of justice itself.
Attorney General William Barr is supposed to be responsible to the American
people but has become Trump’s advocate. Barr even advised the White House not
to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress.
misleading the public on the contents of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s
report, Barr bowed to Trump’s demand that the Department look into the origin
of the FBI investigation that had led to the Mueller report.
after the Justice Department’s own inspector general has found that the FBI had
plenty of evidence to start its Russia probe—more than 100 contacts between
members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents during the 2016 campaign—Barr
refuses to be bound by the findings, and has appointed a prosecutor to launch
yet another inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation.
systemic corrosion: From now on, attorneys general won’t be presumed to be
administering impartial justice, and the findings of special counsels and
inspectors general will have less finality and legitimacy.
part of Trump’s private goon squad, along with Rudi Giuliani, chief enabler
Mick Mulvaney, and Trump’s resident white supremacist, Stephen Miller.
using the authority of the presidency to mount a rogue foreign policy designed
to keep Trump in power. It’s double lawlessness: Giuliani is bending the law
and he’s accountable to no one.
meanwhile, is waging Trump’s ongoing war against people legally seeking asylum
in the United States—featuring family separations, caged children, and inhumane
got Trump to pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whohad been ordered
by a federal judge to stop detaining people solely on suspicion of their
immigration status. Arpaio disregarded the order, which is why he was convicted
of criminal contempt of court for defying the order.
on, rogue sheriffs will be less constrained.
You see the
pattern: Whistleblowers intimidated, the Justice Department politicized,
findings of special counsels and inspectors-general distorted or ignored,
foreign policy made by a private citizen unaccountable to anybody, rogue
military officers and rogue sheriffs pardoned.
instance is disturbing on its own. Viewed as a whole, Trump’s lawlessness is
systematically corrupting the United States.
issue underlying Trump’s assassination of Qassem Suleimani is not whether the
Iranian general posed a danger to the United States. He almost certainly did.
America faces many dangers.
underlying issue is that Donald Trump cannot be trusted to lead America into
war. Trump is unaccountable to America. He is lawless.
*Robert B. Reich is an
American political commentator, professor and author. He served in the
administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. His
most recent book is The Common Good.The views expressed in this article are the