I discussed this on today’s show, the remarks from AG William Barr on whether or not the Russia/Trump investigation would lead to any criminal charges:
Barr says he does not "expect" that the ongoing review of the Trump-Russia probe will lead to a criminal investigation of Barack Obama or Joe Biden: "Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others" https://t.co/HcJ4ge7ZNj pic.twitter.com/N7F0WvaeFE— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 18, 2020
I get his point, abuse may not necessarily mean criminality as per the law, no matter how many civil and natural rights such abuses abridge, which seems more an issue of what we can change than whom we can charge. That’s one one half of me is thinking, anyway. The other half wants a public trial and hefty penalties because if a presidential candidate can be targeted, the rest of us have zero chance for vindication.
I briefly compared this on air to the principle of consistency as seen from the story of John Adams and the Boston Massacre. During the American Revolution, on the cusp of the War of Independence, was the Boston Massacre. Tensions were high and numerous incidents led to citizenry and British soldiers facing off, shouting taunts and insults and a British soldier fired and killed several of the crowd. Despite being a founding patriot, cousin to the much more charismatic Sam Adams of the Sons of Liberty, John Adams risked his livelihood and successfully defended most of the soldiers and kept his good standing with the patriots by rejecting sensationalism for fact. At first glance it might seem almost a betrayal: a founding son defending British soldiers who killed colonists? Adams had said of the case: “The part I took in the defense of Captain Preston and the soldiers procured me anxiety and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of services I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against the soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the execution of the Quakers or witches, anciently. As the evidence was, the verdict of the jury was exactly right.”
Adams was right. How would colonists ever make clear the need for separation from Britain and establishment of their own law if due process and fairness were so eagerly discarded for cause over fact? Furthermore, if bloodshed was required to form this more perfect union, how long would that motivation last, how long would such a new union last if a founding principle was betrayed from the beginning?
It’s not my favorite answer, but Barr was correct in his consistency here. He made clear that he wants to remove the DOJ out of the activist realm. To save the rule of law means to protect it from activist abuse, the likes of which we saw under the previous administration. But leaves this question: what of civil liberties and natural rights if a people can’t trust the system they established to govern them? (A system that has grown itself nearly beyond accountability, to be sure.) What deterrence is there to protect innocent Americans from being targeted and ruined over false accusations? If such falsehoods can be pieced together to frame a well-respected veteran like Michael Flynn and a presidential candidate, what hope for fairness can the average American possess? I’m not alone in this concern. I said on radio earlier that 50% of me, a little devil version, wants to see the system abused similarly to exact revenge on the DNC for their treachery. The other 50% of me, the little angel version, believes that you can’t sin your way to virtue. “But it’s not illegal,” the little devil says. “Barr said so himself. If it isn’t legal then surely it can be done, it’s just an abuse.” The little angel interjects and points out what a ridiculous and cyclically illogical argument that is: the status of legality doesn’t determine whether or not an act is moral or ethical, it simply grants legal or illegal status. There are plenty of bad things in our nation’s history that were once legal, but never moral or ethical. Conservatives would argue that abortion is a modern-day example.
So if the law doesn’t allow for criminal charges for the abuse and weaponization of government agencies, the trust of which is crucial in a free and fair society, what is the alternative? For the people to push for laws governing such abuse? Would Democrats even follow them?
Some of this came up in my discussion today with Andy McCarthy: