If President Trump said it was Tuesday, a significant percentage of the American public would check their calendars just to make sure. For some reason, everything our chief executive says gets challenged, “fact checked” or just plain disbelieved. So when he says — as he has done several times — that he’s the victim of presidential harassment, a lot of people are just going to laugh and say he’s deluding himself. The thing is, that might just be a little hasty.
- President Trump has complained several times — usually on Twitter — that he’s being subjected to what he calls “presidential harassment.” His opponents think this is just the moaning of a sore loser. When the Washington Examiner asked a law professor, though, he had a different opinion.
- Professor Andrew Coen, of the University of Arizona, says there’s never been a time when a president has faced the sort of legal pursuit that’s been inflicted on Trump. In fact, the way the current president is being investigated breaks all the unwritten rules on how legal oversight of the White House is supposed to work.
- Since the aftermath of Watergate, any allegations against a president have been investigated by special counsels appointed for the task. The reason for this is that, traditionally, US Attorneys haven’t been trusted to investigate the president who appointed them. The system was a protection against the president using their influence to shield themselves from the law.
- However, it also works in the other direction. The special counsel system creates a way the president can be investigated but it is a serious procedure that no one should undertake lightly. If a special counsel is appointed to investigate a sitting president, Congress believes that it’s justified.
- Now that the usual way of doing things seems to have been abandoned, what we see is a frenzy of investigations at the federal, state and even city level, all aimed at harming Donald Trump.
- Even worse, many of these investigations don’t even pretend to be probing real issues. Some are blatantly fishing expeditions, simple attempts to sift through as much as possible looking for dirt.
- For example, the New York State Department of Financial Services is investigating all the president’s dealings with insurance broker Aon. They have no reason to suspect any crime has been committed; they’re just spending taxpayers’ money collecting data that might hypothetically contain something they can use against Trump.
- At the same time, the president is being sued by at least two state attorneys general on vague charges of violating the constitution. The Southern District of New York’s US attorney has launched an investigation of the Trump organization — another fishing trip, with no specific issue in mind.
- We’ve had investigations of presidents before, but they’ve always been done with the due solemnity that should accompany action against our elected leader. Now it looks like a free for all. Hold a legal post at any level and want to investigate the president? Go for it. You don’t even need any reason to believe a crime has been committed — just an ax to grind. If this isn’t presidential harassment, it’s hard to say what is.