On Principle

The fact that this article is being published on the 21st anniversary of 9/11 has not escaped me. Its subject matter is both the biggest American political story of the week just passed and, like 9/11, an attack on America. Worst of all it is far from resolved and is coming from within.

The basic subject is Federal Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling for a special master and effectively enjoining a federal criminal investigation into Donald Trump. There is a lot to unpack here and, while certain that I will be incomplete, I’ll take a stab at it.

Her initial ruling was announced at about noon on Labor Day. Am I the only one who found the timing interesting? She basically gave the Trump forces everything they wanted. That included considering the possibility of executive privilege over stolen goods. Part of her decision speaking of Trump’s reputation read, “”…any future indictment would result in irreparable harm.” That last part is a punchline worthy of a stand up comic. The only irreparable harm to Trump’s reputation would be if it were revealed that he told the truth or lived up to the terms of a contract.

Cannon is a Trump nominee who was confirmed in the post-election waning days of the Trump administration. Arguably, part of the McConnell-Trump “court packing project”. (Note: I listed McConnell first because Trump was little more than the useful idiot in this process. In fact, more credit is due to Leonard Leo.)

I’m in a kind mood today and will simply say that Cannon’s resume is thin for a federal judge. Among other things she is short of her 40th birthday.

Without getting too far into the weeds, it appears that the Trump forces did some significant judge shopping in this case and happened to get lucky.

The FBI seized what can fairly be described as stolen goods from Mar-a-Lago which included classified material. Keep in mind, this was on at least the third attempt, (the real number is higher). If recent news reports are to be believed that included at least one document outlining a foreign power’s nuclear capabilities. (At this point we have no idea whether than foreign power is friend or foe; but does that matter?) Cannon’s ruling effectively prevents American national security from doing a damage assessment. American and/or American cooperating intelligence agents could be compromised as well as their sources and methods. I don’t have an intelligence background but I don’t think that is something a judge should put on the back burner just to play into Trump’s delay game tactics.

If you want a play by play or an in depth legal analysis this is not the place. The particulars of this situation are dynamic. However, the underlying principle is clear as day! The Justice Department must appeal this ruling and get it “off the books” so it can never be used as precedent!

I know this is risky on two fronts. First, it will take time which plays right into Trump’s hands.

Second, and scarier, is that it may well eventually make its way to the Supreme Court and I simply don’t trust the current justices. Clarence Thomas is so compromised that he will not recuse himself or rule against Trump. Samuel Alito is close to a reliable Trump vote. The three liberals will vote in the interests of America. That leaves John Roberts and the three Trump appointees.

I predict that Roberts, concerned with his legacy, will join the three liberals in defending America. Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are the somewhat question marks and their votes will determine the outcome. Do you really want to bet democracy on that trio? I don’t think we have a choice unless we want to concede defeat. This is a choice between two less than optimal options. This is a case where principle dictates that you take a chance.

If this ruling is to stand the Miranda warning may be supplemented by the Trump warning. Under it the suspect will inform law enforcement of the following: Anything that you discovered that I am in illegal possession of cannot be used against me in a court of law. Sound absurd? You bet it does!

All we are asking is that the courts make Trump obey the law. Is that too much? Evidentially Judge Cannon thinks so.

This is a time for Justice to act on principle and not care about offending a particular federal judge. Hopefully the entire system is not totally corrupted and if it is then it may be too late already.

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