Authoritarian vs. Constitutional control

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Mark

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there is a fascinating article over on The Atlantic that discusses a relevant issue to 2020 America.

When the state is in dire peril, ... state leaders have the right to suspend constitutional norms, especially provisions for civil rights.

the context of the article is about China using a 1930's Nazi promoted theory to legitimise China's intrusive measures to overturn freedoms in Hong Kong.

but the implications for this holds true for 2020 America as well.

Attorney General Barr has used this concept most often, in his saying that a sitting President is in fact the law. L'État, c'est moi. Nothing s/he does can be investigated even or found to be illegal.

it was the Judicial Branch of government however (very different from the Justice Department) that figured in during this past half-year to combat corruption from the Executive branch and stagnation from the Legislative branch.

i think that America's division of government was the mechanism that allowed the rule of law (the Constitution) to overcome the Statist / Authoritarian elements that have been running amok for 4 years, and attempt to carry out a de facto coup d'etat.

 
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Gutwrench

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Attorney General Barr has used this concept most often, in his saying that a sitting President is in fact the law. L'État, c'est moi. Nothing s/he does can be investigated even or found to be illegal.

What? What?
 

Gutwrench

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The ideal of an unassailable executive branch is something that Barr has long since been known to believe in.

Bill Barr's Dangerous Pursuit of Executive Power - The Atlantic

Let’s read what Barr wrote and drop the rhetoric. But setting the Atlanitic and your opinion aside @mark’s claim is factually untrue.

 

Renzatic

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Let’s read what Barr wrote and drop the rhetoric. But setting the Atlanitic and your opinion aside @mark’s claim is factually untrue.

Mark is guilty of some hyperbole, yeah. Barr's ultimate goal with the executive branch isn't to create an American le Roi Soleil, but he does aim to create an environment where it isn't so easily burdened by the other branches. Through his own actions, he has done a great deal to protect the presidency from the fallout of its own decisions.

There's also this, which is mentioned at the start of the article I linked to above. Barr did greatly downplay the scope and findings of the Mueller report, and your link above was the eventual response to criticisms of such.

Read Attorney General William Barr’s Summary of the Mueller Report - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
 

Gutwrench

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Mark is guilty of some hyperbole, yeah. Barr's ultimate goal with the executive branch isn't to create an American le Roi Soleil, but he does aim to create an environment where it isn't so easily burdened by the other branches. Through his own actions, he has done a great deal to protect the presidency from the fallout of its own decisions.

There's also this, which is mentioned at the start of the article I linked to above. Barr did greatly downplay the scope and findings of the Mueller report, and your link above was the eventual response to criticisms of such.

Read Attorney General William Barr’s Summary of the Mueller Report - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

What in Barr’s summary of March 24 that you linked was marginally different than what is in the statement of May 1 that I provided?

Sure, hyperbole presented as fact is an enormous problem. It feeds directly into the hysteria I’ve written about.
 

SuperMatt

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What in Barr’s summary of March 24 that you linked was marginally different than what is in the statement of May 1 that I provided?

Sure, hyperbole presented as fact is an enormous problem. It feeds directly into the hysteria I’ve written about.
Reading that summary is disturbing to me. A Trump political appointee determined these things:

”After the Special Counsel submitted the confidential report on March 22, I determined that it was in the public interest for the Department to announce the investigation’s bottom-line conclusions—that is, the determination whether a provable crime has been committed or not.” - The infamous summary that intentionally gave people a false impression that the President had been exonerated.

Regarding obstruction of justice: “After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that, under the principles of federal prosecution, the evidence developed by the Special Counsel would not be sufficient to charge the President with an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

We need a better independent counsel law. An investigation like this should be untouchable by the President. When his personally-appointed Attorney General can unilaterally make decisions like the quote above, the idea of investigating the president is, quite literally, a joke. The Kenneth Starr fiasco was heinous too in its own way; he had unlimited freedom to pursue anything, even stuff that had nothing to do with the initial case... so we got an impeachment based on conduct that was never under investigation in the first place. The pendulum swung way too far towards benefit of the executive branch this time though. Time to find something in the middle: a way to investigate an allegedly corrupt or criminal president, without letting a loyalist crush it, but also not letting them go so far astray of the initial investigation that we are looking at 20-year old parking tickets.
 

Renzatic

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What in Barr’s summary of March 24 that you linked was marginally different than what is in the statement of May 1 that I provided?

Sure, hyperbole presented as fact is an enormous problem. It feeds directly into the hysteria I’ve written about.

The initial reading was an attempt to soften the blow of the findings of the Mueller report, and the May 1st statement was the justification for such.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying that what Barr did was illegal, tantamount to treason or what have you. Barr did his job, continues to do his job, but everything he does is buffered behind rather obvious attempts at PR for the presidency.
 

Gutwrench

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The initial reading was an attempt to soften the blow of the findings of the Mueller report, and the May 1st statement was the justification for such.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying that what Barr did was illegal, tantamount to treason or what have you. Barr did his job, continues to do his job, but everything he does is buffered behind rather obvious attempts at PR for the presidency.

Yes, to a large extent he’s been the president’s wing man. I entered the thread over Mark’s factually incorrect claim. Otherwise I’m most tolerate and understanding of differing opinions.
 

Renzatic

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Yes, to a large extent he’s been the president’s wing man. I entered the thread over Mark’s factually incorrect claim. Otherwise I’m most tolerate and understanding of differing opinions.

Though Barr telling DOJ officials to ignore congressional subpoenas should be something that appalls everyone, regardless of their political leanings. That sets a precedence that will ultimately do no one any favors.
 

Gutwrench

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Reading that summary is disturbing to me. A Trump political appointee determined these things:

”After the Special Counsel submitted the confidential report on March 22, I determined that it was in the public interest for the Department to announce the investigation’s bottom-line conclusions—that is, the determination whether a provable crime has been committed or not.” - The infamous summary that intentionally gave people a false impression that the President had been exonerated.

Regarding obstruction of justice: “After carefully reviewing the facts and legal theories outlined in the report, and in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers, the Deputy Attorney General and I concluded that, under the principles of federal prosecution, the evidence developed by the Special Counsel would not be sufficient to charge the President with an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

We need a better independent counsel law. An investigation like this should be untouchable by the President. When his personally-appointed Attorney General can unilaterally make decisions like the quote above, the idea of investigating the president is, quite literally, a joke. The Kenneth Starr fiasco was heinous too in its own way; he had unlimited freedom to pursue anything, even stuff that had nothing to do with the initial case... so we got an impeachment based on conduct that was never under investigation in the first place. The pendulum swung way too far towards benefit of the executive branch this time though. Time to find something in the middle: a way to investigate an allegedly corrupt or criminal president, without letting a loyalist crush it, but also not letting them go so far astray of the initial investigation that we are looking at 20-year old parking tickets.

It was his job to assess the report and reach a conclusion. Absolutely no different than a local district attorney’s determination whether to file charges in any criminal investigation.
 

SuperMatt

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It was his job to assess the report and reach a conclusion. Absolutely no different than a local district attorney’s determination whether to file charges in any criminal investigation.
There is one massive difference perhaps you aren’t aware of. 47 states have elected district attorneys. That means they answer to the people, and if a governor was investigated, they have no loyalty to that person and would have no reason to be biased.

Barr was appointed by Trump AFTER Trump felt prior the prior AG wasn’t loyal enough.

A completely independent body could be trusted; a Trump loyalist shouldn’t be the one deciding whether to prosecute his boss!
 

Gutwrench

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Though Barr telling DOJ officials to ignore congressional subpoenas should be something that appalls everyone, regardless of their political leanings. That sets a precedence that will ultimately do no one any favors.

Like Holder, Barr was shielded by Trump’s order and ability to claim executive privilege.
 

Renzatic

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It was his job to assess the report and reach a conclusion. Absolutely no different than a local district attorney’s determination whether to file charges in any criminal investigation.

Exactly. Barr is the Attorney General of the United States. The cases he chooses to pursue or ignore are left entirely to his discretion. That is his right. His position grants him that authority.

That said, we can still argue endlessly over the reasoning for his conclusions, or even whether you could consider his actions as examples of corruption of office or not. Though that latter bit would be hard to prove, since you could easily argue that Barr has merely been running the DOJ according to his opinions of its role and position in the government hierarchy, even if we don't necessarily agree with those opinions.
 

Gutwrench

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There is one massive difference perhaps you aren’t aware of. 47 states have elected district attorneys. That means they answer to the people, and if a governor was investigated, they have no loyalty to that person and would have no reason to be biased.

Barr was appointed by Trump AFTER Trump felt prior the prior AG wasn’t loyal enough.

A completely independent body could be trusted; a Trump loyalist shouldn’t be the one deciding whether to prosecute his boss!

The executive branch prosecutes criminal offenses.
 

Gutwrench

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Exactly. Barr is the Attorney General of the United States. The cases he chooses to pursue or ignore are left entirely to his discretion. That is his right. His position grants him that authority.

That said, we can still argue endlessly over the reasoning for his conclusions, or even whether you could consider his actions as examples of corruption of office or not. Though that latter bit would be hard to prove, since you could easily argue that Barr has merely been running the DOJ according to his opinions of its role and position in the government hierarchy, even if we don't necessarily agree with those opinions.

Yep, I respect differing opinions. I weighed in over Mark‘s inaccurate claim.
 

Gutwrench

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This is true. And since no one has yet to officially determine whether this is a kosher use of executive privilege or not...

I think whenever there’s a conflict between branches it becomes a bit of gamesmanship. Congress forwent judicial review.
 

SuperMatt

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The executive branch prosecutes criminal offenses.
This is a non-answer, and completely ignores everything I just pointed out. If I want one-line answers that ignore the points I just made, I can go to PRSI. Why not throw in a thought about whether we should have an independent counsel again like during the Clinton impeachment? Or if the pendulum has swung too far? I am not disputing that Barr was allowed to do what he did. I am saying that our current system makes it almost completely impossible to do anything about a criminal president because we’ve given political appointees of the President the job of investigating the president and deciding if he should be prosecuted.
 
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