Thursday, May 2, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said that checks and balances don't apply to him anymore.

In an interview broadcast today on Fox News, Trump said that he would invoke executive privilege to try to prevent former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying before Congress. (Trump has already waived that privilege.) McGahn played a starring role in the Mueller report for his repeated efforts to keep Trump from doing what McGahn called "crazy shit" in his attempts to derail investigation into his Russia ties.

Trump's argument was that he'd done enough cooperating already: "I‘ve given total transparency."

In reality, in addition to trying to prevent McGahn from testifying, Trump has in recent weeks:
  • kept hidden from Congress the full, unredacted report of the special counsel's investigation into Russia's efforts to help him win the 2016 election (even though the whole purpose of the report is to inform Congress of Mueller's findings).
  • refused to allow the IRS to comply with a law requiring them to show his tax returns to Congress on request
  • declared that Congress has no authority to act as a check and balance on the executive branch because they're "not, like, impartial people"
  • promised to "fight all the subpoenas" issued by the House Judiciary Committee
  • sued to keep Deutsche Bank and Capitol One from complying with a subpoena for his financial records
  • sued the House of Representatives in an attempt to keep them from issuing a subpoena to another financial firm with information on financial crimes Trump is alleged to have committed
  • tried to block testimony from a former White House official who could have explained how his adult children were given security clearances even though they failed background checks\

In a related vein, Trump's attorney general testified this week that Trump was allowed to quash investigations into himself as long as he claimed he was being "falsely accused." 

Why is this a problem?

  • Presidents are not above the law.
  • Congress is a co-equal branch of goverment with the presidency.
  • Transparency usually involves a lot less secrecy than this.