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The crimes of previous US presidents are as unaccountable as Trump's

The White House is seen as the sun sets in Washington, DC on December 22, 2020. (AFP photo)

By Dennis Etler

Constitutional law aside, the likelihood of Trump being investigated by the incoming Biden administration is next to nothing. Biden himself said he has no interest in doing so and it is unlikely that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will do so independently.

Trump’s pardons definitely set a bad precedent, but much of the behavior of the US government is not set in stone. Many, if not most, ways the three branches of the US government function are based on pre-existing extrajudicial customs and procedures. In the past it was assumed that government officials, including the President would act accordingly. Trump and the Congressional Republicans have broken many of these established rules of decorum, but the assumption is that a return to normal operating procedures will occur once he is out of office.

At this point the Democrats don’t want to further exacerbate tensions. The establishment Democrats feel that In order to govern effectively they have to appease the opposition. There is a minority in the Party, however, that wants to use Trump’s precedents to attack their rivals to advance their agenda. It is unlikely that their calls to investigate Trump will prevail.

Appeals to the “rule of law” and rhetoric that no one is above it, including the President, are hollow. While the flagrant violations of the law practiced by Trump have been shot down by the courts, US Presidents have been acting illegally for decades with little or no opposition from Congress or the federal courts. In foreign affairs, extralegal wars and military actions, including assassinations are the norm not the exception, and domestically the law is defined by a Supreme Court whose decisions are based on partisanship and ideology, making rulings that reflect special interests rather than the will of the people or the spirit of the Constitution.

US democracy has been flawed from its inception and its underlying anti-democratic framework still lurks beneath the surface, disenfranchising the majority of US citizens, as recent elections show.

Whether or not Trump is held to account is immaterial, when it is the US itself which gets off scot-free from the crimes it has committed both at home and abroad.

Dennis Etler is an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs. He’s a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. He recorded this article for Press TV website.


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