President Trump’s ‘Dereliction of Duty’

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  • Dale Eisman
Statement by Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

President Trump’s latest remarks to the New York Times concerning what he calls “the Russia thing” are an abuse of his power and his responsibility to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

In publicly rebuking Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the president is again threatening to obstruct or shut down investigations that continue to reveal embarrassing and potentially criminal conduct by members of his family, some of his closest associates and indeed by the president himself. He also has heightened suspicions about his knowledge of Russia’s meddling in last year’s election and probably hardened the resolve of members of Congress, the FBI, and Mueller to do whatever is necessary – consistent with the Constitution – to get at the truth.  

But there’s more than potential criminal conduct involved here. The president seems not to understand or care that Russia’s meddling in our election was an assault on our democracy and its ability to mount additional attacks is a threat to our national security. His failure to recognize and deal with that threat is a dereliction of his duty as president. His comments betray an alarming contempt for the rule of law and his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Common Cause has argued for months that in addition to Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which is confined to criminal misconduct, Congress must create an independent and nonpartisan commission of distinguished Americans to produce a public accounting that will inspire the confidence of Americans all along the political and ideological spectrum.

The president has now made our case for us. Mueller has a well-earned reputation as a careful, thorough criminal investigator, but in the wake of the president’s clear attempt at intimidation, Congress must guard against any effort to weaken his independence.