September 27, 2022

Opinion: The unlikely team that is trying to make Trump follow the law

4 min read


After a lengthy special counsel investigation, two impeachment trials and ongoing hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, these are the records holders who have exhausted the Justice Department’s investigative powers. Earlier this week, the F.B.I Searched of former President Donald Trump’s club, Mar-a-Lago, in pursuit of apparently stolen documents.
That Trump allegedly tried to seize the documents. Someone comes as a surprise. His tenure in political office—indeed, his entire career—has been marked by a careful avoidance of written records, possibly partly because of that. Does not use email. While in the White House, he regularly destroyed records, some Politico is described as His “strange and persistent habit of tearing up papers when he is done with them.”
Records management analysts spent countless hours taping the papers together so they could be preserved and cataloged by the National Archives and Records Administration, though as of 2018, much of that team, as Politico reported . Fired suddenly and inexplicably..

However, the seemingly aggressive enforcement of this record law following the Trump presidency is surprising. In recent years, much of the legislation was aimed at giving greater transparency and restraint to the access of the president and the executive branch. While it’s hard to be sure at this point what prompted the search, looking now at the laws that were potentially used to such powerful effect suggests that transparency, ethics and corruption are at stake. In addition to strengthening or adding new laws, the US government will do well. Forcing laws already on the books.

OPINION: Threat warnings mean nothing after Trump home search
gave Presidential Records ActOne of the pieces of legislation that played into the investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of the papers became law in 1978. This was part of a broader effort by Congress to curb the powers of the executive branch, in response to President Richard’s earlier revelations. Nixon’s wrongdoings during the Watergate hearings in 1973 and 1974, and then the intelligence community’s wrongdoings during the Church Committee hearings in 1975.
Oh Many laws All this corruption was created or reinforced in response. Congress Gave teeth Until the Freedom of Information Act, passed open government laws, established offices of inspector general, strengthened whistleblower laws, implemented a new ethics system and created new safeguards to prevent government spying and privacy violations.

It was a difficult time for reformers. Not only did he expose corruption at the highest levels of government, but he also had an ally in Congress, ready to wrest power from an executive that had seized much of it during the Cold War. had taken

Yet within a decade, the White House was again operating with impunity. By the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration was in deep trouble. Iran is a controversial issueA complex arms-for-hostage plan has been scrapped from the National Security Council to circumvent congressional sanctions on arming rebel forces in Nicaragua and trade with Iran, which was heavily restricted.
Administration officials treated the law with contempt, and when it became clear that their scheme was about to become public, they quickly began destroying evidence in events that became known as “the .Shredding parties
In another Watergate innovation, a three-judge panel appointed an independent counsel, Lawrence Walsh, to look into allegations that members of the administration had acted illegally. Walsh took it. Six years to finish their investigation But several high-ranking officials were indicted and sentenced to multiple convictions — convictions that were either overturned on appeal or overturned with presidential pardons.
gave Independent Advocate Law And then the Justice Department’s special counsel appointment process would be weaponized against President Bill Clinton and later watered down against Trump. Other Watergate-era laws were also weakened.
Freedom of information laws became less effective as delays increased and reactions became more frequent. The courts established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act began to function as one. Rubber stamp for GovtInstead of checking on it. The Presidential Records Act had few enforcement mechanisms (although one court did). Impose a significant fine against Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger, for destroying documents she smuggled out of the National Archives after Clinton left office).
was given Many comparisons between Nixon and TrumpIt’s worth paying close attention to which Watergate reforms worked — and which ones need to be reworked. As it stands, there has been surprisingly little accountability for the administration’s corruption and corruption and, so far, little action by Congress to correct it.
It’s telling that the most significant effort to strengthen penalties for misdemeanors came from the Republican Congress and was signed into law by Trump himself: FISA Reauthorization Act of 2017which made misappropriation of classified information a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

The law appears to have been aimed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose use of a private email server was a central part of the Republican attacks that helped elect Trump in 2016. The government has the most effective tools to hold a former president accountable.



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