There is no justice in undermining the special counsel investigation

There is no justice in undermining the special counsel investigation
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE charged that the FBI planted for political purposes a spy in his 2016 campaign. He tweeted last week, “Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true — all time biggest political scandal!”

The charge of a political spy in the campaign is so flimsy that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted, “First of all, I don't know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one.” As reports show, there appears to be no such political spy in the campaign. Rather, an FBI informant spoke with campaign advisers George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosUS attorney recommends moving forward with charges against McCabe after DOJ rejects his appeal 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Flynn, Papadopoulos to speak at event preparing 'social media warriors' for 'digital civil war' MORE and Carter Page after the FBI learned of their contacts with Russian operatives.

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The informant also briefly contacted campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis, who had authorized Papadopoulos to visit Moscow and meet with Russian officials. There is nothing illegal or improper about using informants in a national security investigation. To the contrary, the FBI would have been derelict if it did not attempt to investigate evidence of illicit contacts with representatives of a hostile foreign power.

This latest charge continues President Trump’s attempt to discredit federal law enforcement, undermine the special counsel investigation, and possibly fire Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Nadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime House Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe MORE who supervises the investigation. Among other charges, Trump falsely claimed that former President Obama had committed a serious felony by ordering the wiretapping of his phones in Trump Tower.

Trump previously claimed that no one on his campaign team had any contact with Russians, although there are now dozens of publicly known contacts, many of which involved persons at the highest levels of the campaign, including Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortLewandowski refuses to say whether Trump has offered him a pardon Democrats return to a battered Trump Manafort's legal team argues NY prosecution constitutes double jeopardy MORE, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDemocrats introduce bill to block taxpayer-funded spending at Trump properties Trump dismisses NYT explanation on Kavanaugh correction The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump officials mull plan to divert billions more to border wall: report California trip shows Trump doesn't always hate the media Trump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy MORE. Trump charged that the special counsel investigation was a corrupt “witch hunt” headed up by “all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama.” Yet, three Republicans — special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein — are leading the investigation.

Rather than acting politically during the campaign to undermine Trump, the FBI did precisely the opposite. It severely damaged the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMissing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani On The Money: Trump downplays urgency of China trade talks | Chinese negotiators cut US trip short in new setback | Trump sanctions Iran's national bank | Survey finds Pennsylvania, Wisconsin lost the most factory jobs in past year Meghan McCain, Ana Navarro get heated over whistleblower debate MORE campaign while leaving the Trump campaign unscathed. During the campaign, the FBI was investigating both Clinton’s use of a private email and a possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians to rig the election. James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime We've lost sight of the real scandal Former Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report MORE, the target of so much Trump wrath, played out the Clinton investigation in full view of the American people with devastating effects on her campaign.

In a nearly unprecedented public discussion of the decision not to level any criminal charges against Clinton, Comey excoriated her for the “extremely careless” handling of classified emails. Then, just 10 days before the presidential election, he announced the reopening of the Clinton investigation based on emails discovered in the computer of former congressman Anthony Weiner, that were later proved to be inconsequential. Yet, Comey revealed nothing gleaned from the informant and kept even the existence of the Trump-Russia investigation secret, so it had no effect on the campaign.

Trump has escalated his latest charge against the FBI to a dangerous new level. He is breaching the normal separation between law enforcement and the presidency to discredit the FBI and the Justice Department. The president demanded that the Justice Department look into whether the FBI surveilled his campaign for “political purposes” and whether and such “demands or requests” were made by Obama administration officials.

This intervention into an probe involving himself and his associates has precedent only in the Watergate scandal. In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee, with bipartisan support from a third of Republicans, endorsed three articles of impeachment against President Nixon, for abuse of power, defying lawful subpoenas, and obstructing justice.

The obstruction article closely mirrors the of actions of our current president, charging Nixon “with interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees.” Rather than face certain impeachment by the full House and conviction in the Senate, Nixon resigned the presidency shortly after the committee voted.

Trump’s perceived obstruction appears even more consequential than Nixon’s because the investigation is probing the corruption of our democracy by a hostile foreign power. Alexander Hamilton, the great expositor of American constitutional government, warned that foreign powers, “these most deadly adversaries of republican government,” would seek “to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, then by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”

If the special counsel investigation uncovers a coordinated effort with the Russians to raise Donald Trump to the presidency, then the American people must disregard his deflection and demand what Hamilton called the appropriate constitutional remedy of impeachment for such an “abuse or violation of some public trust.”

Allan Lichtman, Ph.D., is a distinguished professor of history at American University. He is the author of “The Case for Impeachment.”