Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the investigation of former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill), who attracted notoriety for his use of a Downton Abbey motif for the decoration of his office. Obviously a preference for haughty interiors should not be enough to generate a massive criminal investigation. However, the prosecutor in this case has pursued Schock with utter abandon, including trampling over long-established protections accorded to Congress. Regardless of the merits of the fraud allegations against Schock, the investigation raises troubling questions of constitutional law and Congress should hold hearings into the violation of Article I.
Below is my column in USA Today on the concern over arguments being advanced in the dozens of personal cases pending against President Donald Trump across the country. As someone who acquired his wealth in the New York real estate market, Trump has been a frequent litigant and is someone who is not deterred by threats of litigation. Indeed, in that market, litigation is treated as an extension of the business and often used in leverage or delay tactics. As President, Trump cannot maintain the same approach to the courts if he has any concern over the position of his office. Much of the privileges surrounding the presidency are not expressly stated in the Constitution. They are, therefore, vulnerable to the curtailment of negative rulings. For that reason, most presidents have avoided court tests and invoke privileges and immunities cautiously. Yet, no president has ever had this massive number of private lawsuits pending upon taking office. With various private lawyers asserting defenses, it raises the danger of unintended and uncoordinated presidential claims being made by largely unknown lawyers. It is like creating constitutional law on contingency or hourly contacts. Private counsel seeks to win these civil cases and are likely less concerned (and certainly less equipped) in dealing with the long-term implications of privilege or immunity arguments. Trump needs to carefully define the scope of advocacy for his local counsel to avoid the first contingency presidency.
Here is the column.
The attack on the Syrian airfield has sent the polls for President Donald Trump into a sharp rise and he has been praised by various Democrats. Others have called for the commitment of thousands of troops. No one seems interested in speaking of the absence of congressional authorization. Indeed, when Sen. Rand Paul objected to the lack of congressional consent, Sen John McCain denounced him as a non-entity in the Senate who does not listens. Below is my column on the mounting attacks on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI) from Democrats after she called for the release of evidence on the culpability of the Syrian government in the recent gas attack on a village. Even though some (including a recent MIT professor) have questioned the evidence, Gabbard’s desire to see the evidence was viewed as inexcusable. It appears that war, like Saturn, devours its young.
Below is my column on the unfolding future of the Supreme Court after the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch and the elimination of filibusters in the selection of Supreme Court nominees. For years, commentators have been discussing the timing of the retirement of our older justices, including Justice Ginsburg. There was rising concern when Ginsburg decided to stay on the Court past the midterm mark of the second Obama term. Those concerns have now been magnified and realized with the Trump election and filibuster elimination. Of course, the same concerns are raised by the possible retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the current Court. New rumors have arisen this week about Kennedy. However, of all of the older justices, it is replacement of Ginsburg that could produce the most profound changes for the country.
Below is my recent column in The Hill Newspaper on the Rice controversy. Media spins for Rice continue including MSNBC “AM Joy” host Joy Reid describing the softball interview with Andrea Mitchell as a type of “Government for Dummies” lecture: “She was on with our own Andrea Mitchell yesterday trying to explain how government works, for those that don’t know.” Of course, unmasking political opponents (if the allegations are proven to be true), would not be how the government is supposed work. Nor is alleged lying about knowing nothing about the unmasking in prior interviews — a curious conflict with Reid’s take that Rice was trying to explain how government works. This was Rice’s second or third explanation.
The controversy occurs after the Washington Post gave Rice a retroactive “Four Pinnochios” for her claim that the Obama Administration got rid of all chemical weapons in Syria. (That is not the first time that Rice has been accused of false statements on national security issues, as discussed below). None of this seems to matter in the coverage of the most recent controversy involving Rice. It appears that Trump is the temptation that many journalists simply cannot resist. It is a Faustian bargain: media is so intent on pursuing Trump that they have lost any sense of their own navigational beacons of objectivity and neutrality.
Below is my recent column in The Hill Newspaper on the increased U.S. involvement in the fighting in Syria and Yemen. As usual, there is little concern (beyond Sen. Rand Paul) over the sending of troops into foreign conflicts without congressional approval or anything resembling a specific declaration of war. Indeed, when members insist that modern national security threats do not make specific declarations or authorizations practical, they sound much like “living constitution” advocates. Yet, we have now engaged in hundreds of military actions with only a small number of declarations and a small percentage of authorizations. As the Framers feared, war has become a continual and unilateral exercise of executive authority.
Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the disclosure of the possible surveillance of Trump campaign staff and a decision to “unmask” and distribute transcripts of those interceptions. Fox has reported that there is a “smoking gun” linking the Obama Administration. However, Nunes later went on CNN and seemed to backtrack a bit in saying that he did not actually see the evidence. Evidence will reportedly be brought to Capitol Hill this week.