This morning’s Ides of March (3/15/17) NY Times contained an Op-Ed piece entitled “Yes, Trump Is Being Held Accountable” by Jack Goldsmith, which confirms for me several of the reasons, all stemming from our Constitution, that I have been feeling optimistic about the future despite Trump’s election:
- The coverage by the free press (1st Amendment) of Trump’s administration, campaign associates, and appointees (esp. Jeff Sessions), as well as the Republican-controlled Congress.
- Investigations of Russian interference with the U.S. presidential elections now underway in bipartisan committees in both houses of the Legislative Branch (Separation of Powers), which could lead to impeachment (Article II, Section 4) if it were determined that Trump, himself, had committed “crimes and misdemeanors” and, at the very, least seems likely to lead to criminal charges against various Trump associates, which would prove to be humiliating to the severely thin-skinned, Trump.
- The concurrent (and apparently co-operating) FBI investigations of Russian interference; although the FBI is part of the Department of Justice of the Executive Branch, it operates with a high degree of independence and protection from interference by other parts of the Executive Branch, including the President and his staff. (Checks and Balances).
I would add to Goldsmith’s list:
- The rulings (to date) of Federal Judges (Judicial Branch) on matters such as the unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban (Separation of Powers) and possible rulings on other lawsuits in the works on constitutional issues such as “the emoluments clause” (Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution) and states’ rights (10th Amendment et al)
- The Voice of the People (Vox Populi) exercising its constitutionally-protected Free Speech (1st Amendment), which has already begun to be effective in influencing elected officials through countless marches, demonstrations, and Town Hall & other protests, including spoken and written protests by ordinary citizens across the political spectrum, as well as scientists, politicians, celebrities, former government officials, etc.
Goldsmith, who was a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration and is currently a senior fellow at the relatively conservative Hoover Institution (as well as a professor at Harvard Law School), concludes his article in this way:
It’s true that the process of accountability is halting and frustratingly slow. But this is as it should be. The stakes could not be higher for our democracy. Ascertaining the truth is vital, and respect for the innocent is as important as identification of wrongdoing. It is thus crucial that the complex and elusive facts be sorted out in a fair and procedurally rigorous manner, and that the law be applied with deliberation and good judgment.
Justice seems elusive here because it is so plodding. But plodding justice is our best chance for a legitimate resolution to this mess.
And, although I am to the far left of Goldsmith, I , too, would urge patience. These things take time, but from my observations throughout various crises like this (e.g. The Army-McCarthy hearings during the Eisenhower Administration, Watergate under Nixon, Irangate under Reagan, and the Bill Clinton Impeachment proceedings: The Truth Will Out.