President Trump holds the keys to ending with dispatch Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of links between the Russian government and his presidential campaign.
The president should insist on immediately testifying publicly under oath about the alleged link before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Special Counsel Mueller, including an explanation for firing FBI Director James Comey.
Mr. Trump earlier elaborated to NBC News: “And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’ ” Mr. Trump additionally explained that he had decided to fire Mr. Comey before he received any recommendation from the Department of Justice.
Mr. Trump should also waive executive privilege or state secrets for himself or for any other witness called by the Committees or Mueller. He should order his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and son Donald Trump Jr. to testify publicly under oath before congressional committees and the Special Counsel.
Sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants. And it will strengthen public confidence in the evenhanded administration of justice.
The president has repeated ad infinitum that neither he nor his campaign team were linked in any to the Russian government to defeat Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton or to otherwise influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. On that score, according to President Trump, he is “clean as a hound’s tooth.” He has nothing to hide.
But as President Reagan admonished, trust but verify.
Reagan adhered to his motto in the Iran-Contra affair, i.e., the covert sale of U.S. arms to Iran and diversion of the proceeds to the Nicaraguan Contras seeking the overthrow of the Sandinista government headed by President Daniel Ortega arguably in violation of the Boland Amendment. Reagan waived executive privilege. Among others, National Security Advisers John Poindexter and Robert McFarlane, Secretary of State George Schultz, and Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger all testified under oath before the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. Reagan provided a videotaped deposition in the trial of Mr. Poindexter and responded to interrogatories submitted by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh.
President Clinton testified before a federal grand jury during Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation of the Monica Lewinsky affair.
President Ford ended controversy over whether he had promised President Nixon a pardon in exchange for his resignation by testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.
President Ulysses S. Grant provided deposition testimony in the criminal trial of his chief of staff Orville Babcock.
In sum, there is ample precedent for President Trump to testify publicly about alleged Russian links to his campaign and to order persons under his command or influence to do likewise. It would comply with the letter and spirit of the instruction of the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S v. Lee (1882): “No man in this country is so high that he is above the law. No officer of the law may set that law at defiance with impunity. All the officers of the government, from the highest to the lowest, are creatures of the law and are bound to obey it.”
When Nixon proclaimed that when the president does it, it means it is not illegal, he was forced to resign as articles of impeachment hung like a Sword of Damocles over his head.
Mr. Trump should repudiate that example. Instead, he should provide Congress, the Special Counsel and the American people the public testimonies and disclosures necessary to verify whether alleged Russian links to his presidential campaign are fake news.
That would truly make the rule of law sparkle, and American greatness shine.
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