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Is the president above the law? May be


1) A whistleblower officially filed a complaint with the Inspector General of Intelligence (ICIG) to claim that Trump had abused the power of his office by forcing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and his son, Hunter Biden . (There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Biden).

2) ICIG sent the complaint to Maguire after finding the complaint against Trump credible and "urgent". Under the law, this would mean that Maguire refers the complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in one week.

3) Maguire pauses, fearing however that the complaint, because it concerns Trump (and thus the executive power), does not fall within his competence as head of the intelligence community.

4) Maguire turns to the White House and the Department of Justice to find out if the conversation between Trump and Zelensky is covered by the privilege of the executive.

This dilemma led to this eloquent exchange between Maguire and Adam Schiff (California), Chairman of the Intelligence Committee:

SCHIFF: Well, let me ask you this. Do you think it's appropriate to go to a service headed by a person who is the subject of the complaint? For advice? Who is the subject of the complaint or involved in the complaint? For advice on whether you should give these tips to Congress. Did this conflict of interest concern you?

MAGUIRE: Mr. Chairman, when I saw this report and this complaint, I immediately understood that it was a serious matter. That happened and I just thought it would be safe to make sure —

SCHIFF: I'm just asking if the conflict of interest concerned you?

MAGUIRE: Well, sir, I have to work with what I have. And that is the office of the legal adviser in the executive branch.

"I have to work with what I have."

This is the second time in recent months that the status of protected president has been playing for Trump. The first, in case you were on another planet earlier this year, was the Department of Justice directive that a sitting president can not be charged. This led Robert Mueller to avoid any decision as to whether Trump was obstructing justice by blocking the search for a special advocate – despite double-digit episodes documented in the report suggesting a clearly obstructive behavior.

As Mueller made no recommendation, Attorney General William Barr intervened – although Mueller never specifically asked for it – and decided not to prosecute the president.

So, too, about this case in Ukraine. It is very difficult to see how the White House – or the Department of Justice – should be allowed to advise Maguire on the opportunity to refer a whistleblower complaint to Congress focused on Trump and specifically naming Barr. And yet, as Repeated Maguire repeatedly, who else should be able to decide the privilege of the executive, with the exception of the executive?

Point: While everyone agrees, in theory, that no one should be above the law – including the president – the practical means by which the president receives special treatment within our system of government have been put highlighted lately.

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