Why the ACLU Supports the Appointment of a Special Prosecutor and the Creation of a Select Committee to Investigate Trump Campaign Ties to Russia

James Comey speaks at the Brookings Institution. (Photo: Brookings Institution)

Yesterday — May 9, 2017 — has the potential to be one of the most consequential days in the history of the United States and our experiment in constitutional democracy since the Watergate scandal brought down President Richard Nixon. As with Nixon, we have the specter of a president using his formal constitutional powers to obstruct an investigation into potential criminal activity connected to the president’s campaign. And like Nixon, Donald Trump’s actions threaten to place the president above the law.

They demand a strong response to preserve our constitutional values.

Demand a special prosecutor on Russia

A little after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, reports flooded in that President Trump had summarily fired FBI Director Jim Comey for his mishandling of the Clinton email investigation. This rationale, however, is hard to believe, considering he was leading the only serious investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign helped the Russian government interfere in November’s election to their boss’s advantage. We know the White House’s explanation is highly suspicious because of Trump’s own words as well as the sordid happenings behind the scenes in the run-up to yesterday’s dismissal of Comey, which are now spilling out of Washington and into the news.

After all, in late October, Trump praised Comey for reopening the Clinton email investigation after criticizing the FBI director for failing to press charges against her in July of last year. And according to press reports, the case against Comey 
was built by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had to recuse himself from the FBI’s Russia investigation due to his ties to the Trump campaign and his own meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before the election — which he may have lied about at his confirmation hearing. And today, The New York Times reports that just days before his firing, Comey asked the Justice Department for more resources to conduct his investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia.

To be clear, we’re not in impeachment territory yet, but the parallels to Nixon are striking and deserve further investigation.

As the evidence of executive corruption mounts, the ACLU is calling for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to independently investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian interference in November’s election and for Congress to create a select committee, akin to the Watergate select committee, to ensure an adequate and public resolution of this crisis. This, no doubt, will give rise to two straightforward and necessary questions: How does the investigation affect American civil liberties? And why does the ACLU have a dog in this fight?

These are good questions that deserve answers.

President Trump’s actions yesterday to get rid of the person who represented a clear and present danger to his presidency only further demonstrates that he has nothing but contempt for the rule of law and its most sacred motto: “No one is above the law.” This has been obvious. We saw it coming a mile away.

Once it became apparent that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee for the president, we took him at his word. After a thorough constitutional analysis of his campaign statements and promises, we concluded that he was a “one-man constitutional crisis.” And he’s only lived up to our description in his short time in office by imposing a Muslim ban and then criticizing the judges who ruled against him, revoking civil rights guidance for transgender students, and tapping for attorney general a man hostile to voting rights and constitutional policing. In four short months, Donald Trump has consistently violated the individual rights of people inside the United States, often the most vulnerable among us.

He is a leader who wants to operate without any constraints, and whose campaign is under investigation for potentially colluding with the Russians to undermine the integrity of our electoral process. That’s why a truly independent and credible investigation is necessary to assure the American public that the president or his campaign staff hasn’t violated the sanctity of our electoral system. I applaud members of Congress like John McCain who understand this isn't a moment for partisanship but rather a time for bipartisan commitment to checks and balances.

The ACLU has faced decisions like this before. During the Watergate scandal, the ACLU and its affiliates were split over whether the organization could or should call for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. Some feared it would look partisan, but others pushed forward for fear that Nixon could destroy the Bill of Rights.

Through internal debate, the proponents of impeachment won the day, and on September 29, 1973, the ACLU board of directors called for the impeachment of President Nixon. The resolution, 
passed by a 10-to-one margin, said: “There is now substantial public evidence of President Nixon’s participation in high crimes and misdemeanors, and these acts have violated the civil liberties of people of the United States and the rule by law.”

To be clear, we’re not in impeachment territory yet, but the parallels to Nixon are striking and deserve further investigation.

When the rule of law breaks down, as it did during the Nixon era, individual rights are endangered. This is a lesson we learned back in October 1973, when the ACLU made its case for impeachment publicly in a New York Times ad: “Richard Nixon has left us no doubt. He means to function above the law.” Donald Trump is heading towards similar ground. It’s time for a special prosecutor and select committee to get to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia before the president further undermines the democratic norms and principles that make America great.

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Anonymous

You need to call for TRUMP'S impeachment now & I'm not Democrat.
I had a near-death experience in 1991 and was resuscitated by life flight medics. Ever since then I've had inexplicable dreams, to say the least; and believe me, I'd like to say as LITTLE as possible about it bc it's embarrassing; which by coincidence or not have come true in reality. The first one I had was about my own mom lying in a coffin, wearing pearls around her neck & a purple dress w/ curly hair so that she didn't even look like my biological mother. Three years after I dreamed it I attended my mom's funeral and that's exactly what she looked like in every detail. That's why in the dream I had no idea who I was looking at, I just thought it was a woman with curly hair, extra makeup (besides what the funeral director applies) and a pearl necklace wearing a purple dress. But the whole time I was observing it I had the odd feeling that is characteristic of ONLY these inexplicable dreams. Like a sense of deja vu in reverse; instead of already having seen it I'm viewing it for the first time in the dream and I'm positive I'm going to see it again in reality. It's a really creepy sensation.
I can't explain why I dreamed it other than really strange coincidence, FREAK coincidence if you will. I've had 4 other dreams like that one.
The last occurred in December 2014. I dreamed Donald Trump was president, colluding with a country hostile to our nation and did something awful while waiting for the collusion info to be confirmed, which took 2 years bc of obstructions from Republican Congress, Senate members and the president himself.
I know how crazy this sounds but I think Trump as president at this point is even crazier than any strange dreams I've had since I had an NDE. Besides, what can it hurt to check. Several of the things that happened in the dream (like Republican Congress & Senate obstructing things) have already occurred in reality. It can't possibly hurt to check, can it?
There's a reason Putin wanted him in office and people need to find out what it is.

Your dreams are...

Your dreams are just dreams. Trump is "evil" for lots of reasons, from womanizing to raciscim to hypocrisy. Trump is mafia, Italian, Russian, and any other that will give him money.

Impeach Trump! There is ample evidence that already supports the initiative. The problem is the next one we get is Pence, and he is 100% "pure" religious mafia. No better than Trump. Think Trump is bad, let Pence and Sessions be in charge of your "freedom".

Anonymous

They're not just dreams to ME, I think they're creepy & there's no explanation for why I dreamed that about my mom. "Dreams just being dreams" is a piss-poor explanation for it.

Liberals are insane

of course the ACLU is showing how partisan it really is. They are a bunch of left-wing hacks just like most of the nutcases who write comments on here. let's see if we can bring Anthony Romero to be president since he is a FAG-FAG who makes gay love with MEN and not WOMEN!

To "your dreams"

Shit, shit, shit. You are right. Replubicans and democrats are closing ranks over Comey. This will lead to Trumps impeachment and Pence being president. Then the religious "right" will take over with Sessions and Pence in charge.

FIGHT THE AMERICAN "TALIBAN"!

JERRY WILKINS

President Trump please include "Reparations For Slavery" in your next executive order; this executive order may stop the planned "Impeachment" proceeding against you??

The Fifth And Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States concerning eminent domain, and due process has benefited President Trump and the Republican party tremendously. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution sets the stage for political redistricting and gerrymandering in certain parts of this country. Both Independents and Republicans benefited from this racial and inhumane practice of racial gerrymandering and racial redistricting of certain States in America.
These two amendments which were used for racial redistricting, and racial gerrrymandering, can also be used as a method to make the 15 % SOLUTION, (REPARATIONS FOR SLAVERY) a reality.
Now that we have had Barak Hussein Obama as our first BLACK President of the United State of America, the Republicans talking points for the past eight years has been, "let’s take America back from OBAMA and his WIFE".
The 15% Solution, (Reparations for Slavery) will solve the problem of who this country belongs to, and will change the color of the political map of the United States of America which consist of red states, blue states and purple states.
With my "15% Solution," the political map of the United States will have another color added to the map, which will be called Black states. African-Americans need to stand up and take control of their own destiny for their children’s sake.
African-Americans are 12 to 15% of the population in America and have never received reparations for slavery (THE 40 ACRES AND A MULE THEORY?).
The United States Congress, the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch of the United States should seek to rectify over 250 years of economic and racial injustice.
History teaches us that America has rectified certain injustices instituted upon other minorities in this country. In 1980, the Supreme Court ordered the Federal Government to pay eight Sioux Indian Tribes $106 million to compensate for the illegal seizure of their Tribal Lands in 1887. Also in 1988, Congress approved the payment of $20,000 each to 60,000 Japanese-American citizens who had been held in prison camps during World War Two.
The Supreme Court and the Congress of the United States should also compensate descendants of slaves in America by utilizing the Eminent Domain part of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution, which give the government authority to seize property for public use. Reparations for slavery should amount to 15% of the 50 states of America and 15% of the wealth of America.
The total square miles of the United States are 3,806,000 square miles. 15% of 3,806,000 equals 570,000 square miles.
These are the states that African Americans should demand as reparations for slavery.
California
Florida
Georgia
Maryland
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Virginia
These eleven states represent 15% of the land and 15% of the wealth in the United States.
The IRS will determine the 15% of the wealth of America.
Sincerely,
Jerry Wilkins

Shelley B

I believe you as I have had similar things happen to me in the past. We, unfortunately, do not currently live in a culture that values intuitive functioning: We live in a culture that values an odd combination of intellectual, emotional and instinctual functioning.

That having been said, have you called your Congressmen? Actual phone calls: No emails or snail mails. You were given this information for a reason that you alone can only know. Please do what is in your power to help us all side step the version of the future that you saw in your dream.

FBI agent

Don't worry America. We at the FBI are perplexed by our bosses firing and will complete a full investigation. The Russian investigation WILL continue. Look up Mr. Sater. He squealing like a stuck pig. Sessions is next. He recused himself from the investigation because he is as guilty as Flynn.

Trump has/had Mafia ties, Russian ties, and other organized crime ties. We have the files and they will come out.

Trump F'd himself by firing the last independent man in Washington!

Anonymous

HE said he wasn't going to interfere w/ it in any way and then told Trump to fire Comey.
What IS his definition of "not interfering?"

Anonymous

I hope you really are an FBI agent and that this really is the sentiment of the Bureau. Also hope that whatever files Comey had in his office were also in another location because I'm betting they've disappeared from his office. Trump's mafia and Russia ties have been covered in the NYT over the years, so no one who's been paying attention should be surprised by that. If you didn't already know about it, take a look at Adam Khan's twitter feed. He (assuming that's his real name) has been piecing together networks of ties among a whole lot of contacts of Trump, just from open sources (he has the screen shots there). Seriously. You might get some leads from it, or at least it might save you some time. Someone did one of those computer graphs mapping it out, and it's mind-boggling how many people it involves, and how many countries. A lot of money laundering, where he's just traced public announcements about sales of buildings, often for way more money than they were sold for just a year earlier. It's HUGE. And it makes me worried that there's no way they'll ever have an investigation that nails all of these people. You get the impression from looking at it that there are about 3 dozen people basically running the world. Anyway, if you really are an FBI agent (and to any others reading this, or staff in US intel agencies or allied countries' agencies), please know how much the American public is supporting you and relying on you. Please, please save our country. We are in a major constitutional crisis with a man, and his inner circle, hell bent on establishing an authoritarian regime here. This is not a dress rehearsal.

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