The release of Robert Mueller’s investigative report on Thursday April 18 has shocked the American political world over the past week. Trump supporters have attempted to deflect and discredit, while detractors have emphasized the counsel’s findings regarding obstruction of justice.
The report states multiple times that obstruction of justice has been found but implies that the decision to prosecute in the form of impeachment will be left to Congress. Despite this, both sides of the aisle have announced that they will not seek impeachment.
This may set a terrible precedent that the president is above legal reproach. Regardless of political damage, impeachment must be sought.
Since the Nixon era, the Justice Department has maintained a policy that prevents a sitting president from being indicted, according to Reuters. This policy runs contrary to every intention of the United States’ founders. No person should be above the law, especially not the president, who should serve as a role model to the American people.
This policy has come back to light given the Mueller report’s revelations. The Counsel has decided, given the Department of Justice’s policy, to not pursue charges against President Trump. The simple fact of the matter is that Donald Trump committed several obstructive acts against investigations into the as-yet-unfounded Russian collusion case.
He demonstrated fear that the investigation would uncover past transgressions that he saw as illegal. The question of whether one can obstruct justice when there was no underlying crime is hardly a question; most legal scholars agree that the crime is in the act of impeding investigators, not in covering up another crime.
Based on these facts, President Trump would be charged with several counts of obstruction of justice were he just an ordinary citizen. The ramifications of indicting a sitting president, while severe, are not severe enough to justify a violation of everything this nation stands upon.
If all men are created equal, why are all men not held to the same standard in criminal law? An overbearing, un-prosecutable executive reminds one more of a monarch than a democratically elected president in a republic such as ours.
The time has come for Congress to take a stand against the executive branch. This is not a simple political squabble; this is a fight for the future of our country and the values we were founded upon.
Congressional Democrats have largely avoided the issue of impeachment as politically unviable. They view impeachment would act almost as a gift to the President’s re-election campaign, as it would mobilize his supporters considerably. This, however, is a risk that must be taken.
The alternative is a permanent change to how we view the American presidency. We cannot afford to let a criminal president go unpunished. His status in office should have nothing to do with his likeliness to be prosecuted in our system.
If anything, we must not allow the Republican Party’s hypocrisy to continue on this issue. Republicans impeached Bill Clinton for a similar crime yet argue that Trump should not be. They facilitated the release of the entire uncensored Starr Report, yet block the release of the uncensored Mueller Report.
The only proper end to the saga of the Special Counsel is impeachment. If it means a harder year for the Democratic Party in 2020, so be it. The concept of equality under the law is on trial, and the verdict must not result in the death penalty for our republic’s values.