Saturday, July 22, 2017

Help Me, Obi Wan; You're Our Only Hope

"The Fake News New York Times" is about to get a tweetblast.
A newfound memo from Kenneth W. Starr’s independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton sheds fresh light on a constitutional puzzle that is taking on mounting significance amid the Trump-Russia inquiry: Can a sitting president be indicted?

Well, if not, that needs to change.
The 56-page memo, locked in the National Archives for nearly two decades and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, amounts to the most thorough government-commissioned analysis rejecting a generally held view that presidents are immune from prosecution while in office.
Okay. I'm salivating. Go ahead...
“It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president’s official duties,” the Starr office memo concludes. “In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.”

Mr. Starr assigned Ronald Rotunda, a prominent conservative professor of constitutional law and ethics whom Mr. Starr hired as a consultant on his legal team, to write the memo in spring 1998 after deputies advised him that they had gathered enough evidence to ask a grand jury to indict Mr. Clinton, the memo shows.
Ronald Rotunda? Is this a joke?

And what does a memo from a special prosecutor have to do with the law if it remains just a memo?
In 1974, the Watergate special counsel, Leon Jaworski, had also received a memo from his staff saying he could indict the president, in that instance Richard M. Nixon, while he was in office, and later made that case in a court brief.


In the end, both Mr. Jaworski and Mr. Starr let congressional impeachment proceedings play out and did not try to indict the presidents while they remained in office.


Nothing in the Constitution or federal statutes says that sitting presidents are immune from prosecution, and no court has ruled that they have any such shield. But proponents of the theory that Mr. Trump is nevertheless immune for now from indictment cited the Constitution’s “structural principles,” in the words of a memo written in September 1973 by Robert G. Dixon Jr., then the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

This argument boils down to practicalities of governance: The stigma of being indicted and the burden of a trial would unduly interfere with a president’s ability to carry out his duties, preventing the executive branch “from accomplishing its constitutional functions” in a way that cannot “be justified by an overriding need,” Mr. Dixon wrote.
He can't carry out his duties now. He's too busy feuding with people who offend him, obsessing on Hillary Clinton and tweeting ridiculous shit.
“If the framers of our Constitution wanted to create a special immunity for the president,” [Mr. Rotunda] argued, “they could have written the relevant clause.”
Damn straight.
He also wrote that the 25th Amendment, which allows for temporary replacement of a president who has become unable to carry out the duties of the office, created a mechanism that would keep the executive branch from becoming incapacitated if the president was on trial.
The Supreme Court has never addressed the question of whether a sitting president can be indicted and tried. But in a landmark 1997 ruling, Clinton v. Jones, it permitted a lawsuit against Mr. Clinton for unofficial actions — accusations of misconduct before he became president — to proceed while he was in office.
Is that not precedent, then?
“If public policy and the Constitution allow a private litigant to sue a sitting president for acts that are not part of the president’s official duties (and are outside the outer perimeter of those duties), and that is what Clinton v. Jones squarely held,” he wrote, “then one would think that an indictment is constitutional because the public interest in criminal cases is greater.”
One would, wouldn't one?

Continue reading.

I'm gonna need a simple "yes" or "no". Can the president be indicted?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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