Thursday, December 19, 2019

For Me, Not For Thee

President Trump's letter sent Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was indeed "peppered with insults and falsehoods." Representative was the paragraph

I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses, like the so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made.
The whistleblower was not "so-called," there was no hoax, it was not a false report (as the pseudo-transcript and committee witnesses revealed), and it bore a close relationship to the actual phone call.

You may be tempted to quip "other than that, the paragraph was accurate," but will resist the temptation. "I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses....' was brazenly dishonest. It's significant in part as a claim made disingenuously, in one former or another, by many of the GOP Stepfords in their statements on the House floor preceding the vote to impeach the President. 

Assuming- as is unlikely- that Trump actually took time to write the six-page letter himself, the assertions were lies because he no doubt knows, as Elie Honig explained a couple of months ago, "House impeachment is an investigative and (potentially) accusatory process requiring no particular protections for the subject -- much like a subject of a criminal investigation has essentially no right to subpoena witnesses at the grand jury stage."

The target of a grand jury lacks those rights and has no more rights than a ham sandwich, nor a potted plant. He (usually a "he") will be indicted if there is any evidence in the universe against him, after which he is bound over for trial and, in the vast majority of cases, unable to afford private counsel. Then of course, the accused typically pleads guilty to an offense he may or may not have committed but which the state never had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

President Trump (or whatever lawyers wrote this thing in infantile Trumpian fashion) would appear to believe that individuals charged with a felony should have, at arguably the most crucial point at the criminal process, "fundamental" rights. If so, he should implore those states with grand jury systems to reform them or eliminate them in favor of giving defendants greater rights. He is not unfamiliar with effective- unprecedented, actually- use of the bully pulpit.

The chance he will do that is slim and none, and slim has left town long ago.  We knew that because he is Donald Trump, an opinion reinforced eighteen months ago as

Trump’s hasty decision last week to use an executive order to try to end family separation, which happened as a result of his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, sparked confusion and chaos ahead of upcoming congressional votes on immigration.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” he tweeted. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order.”

There is little or no chance that Trump wants to deny due process for immigrants and refugees, the majority escaping severe economic deprivation and many of the latter political oppression, simply because they aren't citizens or residents. We know that because, speaking of suspected gang members, eighteen  months ago the President at a rally in Brentwood, NY advised the police officers present

when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, "Please don’t be too nice.”

"Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over” their head, he said, putting his hand above his head for emphasis. “I said, ‘You can take the hand away, O.K.?’”

Wondrous are the manifestations of due process. New Orleans Police Department chief Michael Harrison issued a statement including "The President's comments stand in stark contrast to our department’s commitment to constitutional policing and community engagement.”  That's what makes policing hard, just, and effective.

We've seen Trump's contempt for the Constitution in many ways, including (but not limited to) his attacks on colleges and other enemies and threats to the press, and now in whining about the privileges he wants extended to him which no one else in the country is afforded. The old line is "free speech for me, not for thee," but with Donald Trump it is "license and immunity for me, nothing for thee."

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