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Twenty-first Century Presidential Rules
Michael O'Casey
Michael O'Casey's View from the Riverbank

Those who witnessed the fall of Richard Nixon should remember the shock of average Americans when the Whitehouse tapes revealed what was actually going on during the Nixon Presidency. In the face of all the political smoke and mirrors and sad faced lying, those tapes provided indisputable evidence that led to Nixon’s demise.

There are no tapes to entangle Donald Trump, but his communication  involved nonstop tweeting to his followers that was highly effective, and his texts and the emails of his subordinates have left a similar trail of evidence.  

 I’m recording the January 6 hearings, and on sleepless nights I watch them and listen.., carefully.  They are boring.  Ratings are miniscule when compared to “The Young and the Restless,” “Naked and Afraid,” or the College Baseball World Series. But, the January 6 committee, mostly Democrats with a few Republicans who are probably sacrificing their political careers to seek the truth, is making a strong case if one pays attention. 

For instance, the vast majority of Donald Trump’s presidential advisors, lawyers, and his daughter and son-in-law told him in November the 2020 election was legitimate, and he’d lost. Attorney General Bill Barr, a very strong Trump supporter, told Trump his election fraud accusations lacked evidence and were bull----.  At the January 6 hearings, Trump’s advisors and family members raised right hands, swore an oath to tell the truth and consistently admitted the above. Yet he knowingly invited hardcore supporters to the capitol to prevent the official electoral vote count on January 6.  He demanded that Vice President Mike Pence declare he’d won the election or at least send the electoral certificates back to the state legislatures in the critical states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin to push the counting process past the deadline and throw the electoral vote process back into the Republican controlled state legislatures.  

But Mike Pence honored his oath to defend the United States Constitution and asked retired Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Michael Luttig, a staunch conservative, for advice concerning the  Vice President’s authority in the electoral vote counting process. Judge Luttig told Pence he had no authority under the Vote Counting Act of 1877 or the 12th Amendment to do anything but count the votes, and the VP did his duty. 

Trump was enraged and told his followers that Pence had “caved” and  a gallows was erected outside the Capitol Building as the mob stormed inside screaming “hang Mike Pence!”

Interestingly, John Eastman, one of Trump’s chief legal advisors was quoted as saying that Vice President Kamala Harris should never be given the authority to make such a momentous decision, but Pence should. Apparently some believe Presidents and their lawyers have the right to make up their own rules as necessary. That view is best demonstrated with Richard Nixon’s statement that “When a president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Obviously, if Pence had declared Trump the winner, and it survived the nationwide political explosion that was sure to follow, there would be no future need for a Presidential election after the first term because the Vice President could override the results and re-elect his/her boss.  Such thinking is lightwood kindling for torching the United States Constitution.

Unfortunately, it is not over.  In the Savannah Morning News on Sunday June, a Vox Populi contributor bragged.  “I didn’t spend a single second watching the Jan. 6 hearings.”  Some supporters say the hearings are actually Hollywood actors making a movie or Ivanka Trump’s testimony that her father knew he’d lost the election is part of Trump’s grand strategy to confuse everyone. If so, he succeeded. One social media post said Bill Barr turned on Trump because SEC records show he was paid off by Dominion (manufacturer of the computerized voting machines).  But it was the wrong Dominion; Barr owns stock in Dominion Energy which supplies electricity for Mid-Atlantic States. In 21st Century politics, facts and truth are disposable inconveniences.

But the hearings may be having an effect. Recently I spoke with two stout individuals who voted for Trump twice.  Both are Republicans, but both said that the nation needs completely new Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in 2024.  Amen brothers…