Check your (executive) privilege

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Check your privilege is a phrase invented by social justice warriors and made famous by South Park. In some circles, it is an acceptable way to tell a white person, a male, or a non LGBT person to examine the situation and realize he is benefiting from the supposed privilege his status affords him. Executive privilege is a phrase invented by the Supreme Court of the United States, and made famous by Richard Nixon. I don’t know how real white male privilege is in America in 2017, but executive privilege  is very real and very relevant.  Executive privilege, in a broad sense, is the ability of the President of the United States to overrule orders of the Judiciary branch.

In the wake of former FBI Director Jim Comey’s public revelation that Donald J. Trump is not under investigation for colluding with the Russians to steal our Presidential election, the anti Trump media have shifted the narrative. They have moved on from collusion, and set their guns on obstruction. It is their assertion that President Trump obstructed justice when he asked Director Comey to “let go” of his investigation into General Michael Flynn. The Nixon comparisons abound, with media claiming that Trump ordered Comey to end the investigation to hide his collusion with Russia. There is just one problem with that theory. Comey, under oath, stated that Flynn was never under investigation for Russian collusion either. Flynn is being prosecuted because he did not disclose business dealings with Russia and Turkey before he took office. Comey made it clear the two were separate investigations. When Trump asked Flynn to “let it go” he was referring to an investigation and pending legal proceeding against one man, for his own personal crimes, not the Russia investigation. Comey went so far as to say that at no time in his tenure did Trump or anyone in the administration ask him to stop the investigation into collusion in the election.

It is debated by constitutional scholars whether or not it is legally possible for a President to obstruct justice. What is not up for debate is that a president cannot be tried in a court of law. That is why we have impeachment. Congress checks the president with impeachment in the case of “Bribery, Treason, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Congress has tried to impeach one president for what would be classified as obstruction of justice in  a regular criminal court, Richard Nixon. There are a few major differences in what Nixon did, and what Trump allegedly did. Nixon was accused of destroying evidence, committing perjury, and attempting to bribe a judge with a political office.  For these things, Richard Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached. Secondly, Nixon was acting in order to cover up a crime in which he was complicit. Nixon lied under oath, destroyed evidence, and bribed a judge to cover his tail. Trump allegedly asked an official under his authority to end an investigation to protect someone else.

The president of the United States has the ultimate power to stop investigations, the power to pardon. A president can pardon anyone at any time for any reason, even political reasons. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon before an investigation could even begin. How then, could Trump have obstructed justice when the entire time he had the constitutional authority to stop the investigation dead in its tracks? The pardoning of a political ally is not obstruction, just ask Barack Obama. In his last week in office, Obama commuted several sentences, and issued pardons as is customary for a departing president. One such individual was Chelsea Manning. In 2013 private first-class Manning leaked thousands of classified documents to the now infamous Wikileaks. Yes, the same Wikileaks Trump is accused of colluding with. Manning’s leaks put many American lives at risk, and significantly aided our enemies. She was sentenced to thirty five years in prison. So, why did Obama pardon her? Obama pardoned her because before she was Chelsea Manning, she was Bradley Manning. Chelsea made the decision to change her gender identity shortly before she committed her crime. Obama pardoned someone who put thousands of American lives at risk, a traitor, because she was transgendered. This was indisputably a political pardon.  There were no shouts of obstruction, no political outcry really at all. Michael Flynn committed a crime. He should have his day in court, and it is not honorable of President Trump to end the investigation. But, there is a massive difference between unethical and illegal, and the refusal to acknowledge such is dangerous.

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