America is establishing new precedents

Walter Shaub points out that whatever the outcome of Trump’s attempts to obstruction of justice, he’s already done harm by setting bad precedents.

But whatever the outcome of Mueller’s investigation, America is establishing new precedents. One precedent is that President Trump fired the FBI director—and Congress did nothing. Another is that Trump admitted the FBI’s investigation of his campaign motivated the firing—and Congress did nothing. A third precedent is that Trump fired the attorney general after having railed against him publicly for refusing to intervene in the investigation—and Congress has done nothing. A fourth precedent is that Trump circumvented the Justice Department’s order of succession so he could replace the attorney general with an individual who has directed partisan attacks at the special counsel, has described publicly how a new attorney general could undermine the investigation, has had a personal and political relationship with an individual involved in the investigation, and has been associated with a company that is the focus of a separate FBI investigation.

If the precedents stand…

If members of Congress or the American people fail to act, these precedents will become the guideposts for future presidents who follow the path President Trump is blazing. A new tenet of American democracy will become that a president is permitted to evade investigation by firing the heads of agencies that investigate the president’s close associates, even when the investigation is the reason for the firings. This cannot stand. Putting a president above the rule of law is a threat to democracy.

We need another precedent: presidents can’t get away with obstruction of justice.

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