Warning: How Putin and Trump could defeat Mueller and Democrats

Warning: How Putin and Trump could defeat Mueller and Democrats
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When Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinHouse Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe McCabe's counsel presses US attorney on whether grand jury decided not to indict US attorney recommends moving forward with charges against McCabe after DOJ rejects his appeal MORE recently said there can be too much transparency surrounding the Russia investigation, and implied there would be a minimum of disclosure when the work of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE is concluded, patriotic Americans should see red lights blaring and hear alarm bells ringing at 5,000 decibels.

Regarding Mueller, it would be folly for those of us who do not know what he knows to predict what he will do. But Rosenstein’s comments that too much transparency would be damaging were alarming and so wrong that they raise the possibility that America could soon endure one of the great coverups of one of the great alleged crimes in American history.

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My hope is that Mueller will stand for the proposition that no person in America — including the president — is above the law. This means that if the evidence proves a president committed a crime, that president should be indicted for that crime like any other American.

I am not suggesting President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE committed a crime because I do not know the evidence in the possession of the special counsel. I am suggesting that if the evidence does prove a crime, that crime should be prosecuted. Legal authorities differ about this point. There is nothing in the Constitution or the history of Supreme Court jurisprudence that answers this question.  

One alternative I would suggest is that the special counsel could jointly name the president and Russian dictator Putin as unindicted co-conspirators for the same crime, if and only if the evidence warrants.

It is appalling how casually so many commentators assume a president cannot be indicted. This would institutionalize the proposition that one American — the president — is above the law. There has never been a view I disagree with more strongly than this.

Let's dissect the implication of what Rosenstein said, which included his comment that if a person is not indicted, no negative information should be released about that person.

This means that if the special counsel finds evidence that the president committed a crime, but either decides or is ordered to not indict him based on the theory that a president cannot be indicted, then the information about his role must be kept secret!

If, hypothetically, a president is guilty of a crime but is not indicted based on the theory that a president cannot be indicted and then the evidence of the crime is kept secret because the president was not indicted, the guilty party would be above the law and get away with the crime.   

Again while I am NOT asserting that this is true in the Russia investigation because I do not know what evidence the special counsel possesses, I am asserting that this is possibly true, and Rosenstein’s comments make this a plausible and alarming possibility.

If this occurs, the result would be that the Russians successfully attacked America’s 2016 election for the purpose of defeating Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP struggles with retirement wave Overnight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE and electing Donald Trump, the investigation could ultimately be thwarted by rigged legal maneuvering, crucial information would be kept secret, and Trump would be more likely to be reelected in 2020.

Additionally, it would be inexcusable if Mueller never sought to obtain President Trump’s testimony, which I believe all courts would ultimately approve. How could such a critical witness involving such a heinous alleged crime against America not be questioned under oath?

Some would suggest that the president is not above the law because he could be impeached. Those who argue this must support all evidence involving the president being given, without exception, to Congress, to make a fair and reasoned decision about impeachment. 

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But Rosenstein’s comments can be interpreted to mean that the Justice Department could refuse to turn the evidence over to Congress as well as the public. Though I believe Congress would ultimately succeed in obtaining this information, this danger should never arise.

I opposed the nomination of Attorney General William Barr because he refused to make clear commitments to even minimal disclosure about Mueller’s work after virtually campaigning for the post by circulating an unsolicited memo attacking Mueller’s work.

To suggest impeachment is the only route is to suggest that the president is not above the law, unless his party in Congress, approaching a presidential election, has enough votes to put the president above the law, in which case the president would be above the law!

This would constitute a victory for Trump and Putin, a possibility as unlikely as Trump defeating Clinton in 2016, after aggressive support from Putin, which should never be allowed to happen again in America.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.