Suddenly conservative lawyers are condemning Trump for abuses of power
The Los Angeles Times has a column noting a recent trend: conservative lawyers are condemning Donald Trump for abuses of power. Now, I fully know that they will be painted as Democrats, secret Democrats, RINOS, etc. etc. but the fact is lawyers of both parties are becoming increasingly concerned about the way Trump perceives and executes laws. Increasingly, when Trump executes the laws he seems to be giving some laws capital punishment, and has gotten little or weak push-back — until now.
Washington seems to be barreling toward a constitutional crisis.
Democrats are barraging President Trump with demands for witnesses and documents. Trump has answered by stonewalling, vowing to fight “all the subpoenas.”
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned, Trump seems to be goading the Democratic-controlled House toward impeachment, perhaps because it’s a battle he thinks he can win.
Politicians on both sides are repairing to their tribal corners.
Even as Republicans in Congress have fallen in line to defend Trump at every turn, a surprising number of conservative lawyers have broken ranks and are condemning the president for abuses of power and denouncing his blanket claims of executive privilege.
Last week, John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who drafted a notorious memo justifying the torture of detainees under President George W. Bush, warned that Trump had gone too far in asserting unbridled presidential power.
“That’s what Nixon did,” Yoo told NPR. “That’s what other presidents who have failed have done.”
In an email exchange, Yoo told me he stands by the comparison, and added that Trump’s actions are sufficient grounds for the House to consider impeachment.
“Impeachment [is] the only solution to Trump’s challenge to the constitutional order,” he wrote.
Yoo isn’t alone. George Conway, a leading conservative lawyer (and dissenting husband of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway), declared that Trump is “a cancer on the presidency,” echoing White House Counsel John Dean’s famous warning to Nixon during Watergate. Conway urged Congress to remove Trump from office.
“Presidential attempts to abuse power by putting personal interests above the nation’s can surely be impeachable,” Conway wrote in the Washington Post. Last year, he changed his voter registration from Republican to “unaffiliated,” saying the GOP had become a “personality cult.”
Other attorneys have been more restrained, but only a little.
“The president’s conduct demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law— a disregard that is in direct conflict with his constitutional responsibilities,” 11 conservative lawyers wrote last month. They urged the House to continue its investigations, but stopped short of endorsing impeachment.
“This president is undermining the basic principle of checks and balances,” one of the 11, former Deputy Atty. Gen. Donald B. Ayer, told me. “It’s really kind of tyrannical. It’s un-American. It’s the sort of expansion of government power you would expect Republicans to worry about.”
In addition, more than 800 former federal prosecutors, many of them Republicans, signed a statement declaring that the report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, far from exonerating Trump, showed that he deserved to be indicted for obstruction of justice.
A must follow on Twitter is Conway’s Twitter account.
Read the entire column in full.