What To Do In A Massacre

What To Do In A Massacre


Leonard Zwelling

In September of 1973, President Richard Nixon wanted Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox fired. Cox had been looking into the matter of the Watergate break-in and the associated crimes. He had subpoenaed the tapes Nixon had secretly made in the Oval Office and Nixon wanted the activity of seeking the tapes to stop. Cox refused. Elliot Richardson, the Attorney General was ordered to fire Cox. He refused and quit. Then Nixon ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. He refused and resigned. Finally, Solicitor General Robert Bork, subsequently refused a seat on the Supreme Court by a Democratically-controlled Senate some years later, fired Cox on the president’s orders.

This became known as the Saturday Night Massacre and was instrumental in bringing down President Nixon less than a year later.

On Thursday, some 45 years later, it is possible that history will repeat itself. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recused from involvement with the current activities of the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller due to his proximity to the campaign that Mueller is investigating. The press is filled with tales that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who controls the Mueller investigation now, is about to be fired, probably for insubordinate remarks he supposedly made that were reported in the New York Times concerning President Trump’s fitness for office and the possible invocation of the 25th Amendment to get Trump out of office.

If this occurs, the current Solicitor General is Neal Francisco. He may take over the Mueller investigation. He may be asked by Mr. Trump to fire Mueller. Francisco may have a conflict of interest in overseeing Mueller in that he is reported to have worked for a private firm, Jones Day, prior to his government service, that supported the Trump campaign in the Mueller investigation. Hmm..,this is getting complicated.

Could we be headed for a repeat massacre in 2018 that resembles the one in 1973?

Of course, we could, and it would be further evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice, but what if there’s no special prosecutor who is going to bring this up? The House filing articles of impeachment? Surely you jest! House Republicans are tripping over themselves to stand up for Mr. Trump. With luck, this stance will cost the GOP control of the lower chamber, but there’s a long way to go until November.

Slowly but surely, America is marching toward a constitutional crisis the likes of which has not been seen for almost 50 years. What’s a good American to do under the circumstances?

First, stay informed using objective sources—as many as you can stomach reading or watching. The fine points here matter. Whether Congress will finally act against this president is hard to know, but that it needs to act will be reinforced if Mueller is fired after the Congress neglected to protect his work.

Second, the investigation can go on without Mueller and one would assume that interim reports have been written in anticipation of just such a play by Agent Orange. Mueller is too smart to allow all the work done so far to go down the drain with his firing.

Finally, vote for goodness sake. There is no excuse this time. Everything is on the line. You have to participate at every level. Be smart. Read and then go to the polls.

To quote the Jason Robard’s portrayal of Ben Bradlee in “All the President’s Men.” He is speaking to Woodward and Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman):

“Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys f–k up again, I’m going to get mad. Goodnight.”

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