To: Representative Noem, Senators Thune and Rounds
This has been an eventful and tumultuous week for the country. Six days ago, the New York Times reported that the President attempted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller as early as June 2017. Five days ago, the President attacked the American press at the Davos Economic Forum, earning boos and condemnation from the international crowd. Two days ago, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe resigned citing pressure from the White House. And just yesterday, during his first State of the Union Address, the President proposed allowing his Cabinet officials to purge or promote civil servants for their perceived loyalty.
These are merely the most recent examples of the current Administration’s ongoing attacks on the institutions that make a democratic republic like ours function, such as our independent watchdog agencies, our robust and free press, and our separation of powers through checks-and-balances. The current President has demonized judges and generals, pundits and protestors. He has sought to “open the libel laws” to quell unfavorable press, which his own staff have referred to as “the opposition party.” He has repeatedly accused federal judges at all levels of “terrible overreach” for exercising their Constitutional role whenever said exercise runs counter to his policy (or is it colicky?) whims.
This unpatriotic disrespect to our time-worn and battle-tested democratic norms and institutions would be dangerous enough coming from any President, as they erode the foundations upon which this Union was built. But the current President wages his attacks on republican democracy under a fog of suspicion, accused of both collusion with a hostile foreign government and obstructing any independent investigation into it. There is ample evidence collected by the CIA, FBI, NSA, and DNI of a Russian campaign to influence and meddle with the 2016 election (summarized in their January 2017 Intelligence Assessment); that members of the President’s campaign staff and family interacted with Russian agents and later sought to cover up those meetings (some of whom have been indicted for it); that the President himself fired the then-director of the FBI to stymie the Russian investigation, which he admitted to both American journalists and Russian diplomats; and so on.
These are serious allegations, and they merit serious, objective, and independent inquiry. However, the President appears to be singularly incapable of allowing that to proceed. He fired James Comey and attempted to fire Robert Mueller to stop the investigation. He pressured Jeff Sessions after his recusal to nevertheless meddle in the investigation. He pressured the heads of various intelligence agencies to intervene in the investigation. He just last night (accidentally into a hot mic) agreed to release a controversial conspiracy memo designed to discredit the investigation despite such a move being condemned as “extraordinarily reckless” by his own Justice Department.
It is possible that the President is innocent in all this, just a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time again and again and again and again… and it is possible that the President is a Russian tool, a victim of kompromat and blackmail. It is possible that the President has actively acted to obstruct justice to hide evidence of his campaign’s culpability in Russian meddling… and it is possible that the President is simply peddling damage control to protect his “brand,” unaware of the optics or legality of his actions (although, admittedly, that latter interpretation assumes a level of mental incompetence unlikely to be possessed by a man who could correctly identify a drawing of a camel ON HIS VERY FIRST GUESS!).
These are all possibilities, but the fact of the matter is that, guilty or not, culpable or not, the President has neither respect for our democratic institutions, nor ability to allow them to function unimpeded. It is only a matter of time for he fires Mueller in some irate, sporadically capitalized, early morning tweet and instigates a full blown Constitutional crisis.
I implore you: DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN.
Demonstrate a faith in our republic and its institutions of which our highest elected official has been incapable.
To that end, I am writing to ask you to support the Special Counsel Integrity Act (H.R 3771, S. 1741). These twin bills in the House and Senate would allow a Special Counsel to be fired only if it can be shown that they had exhibited “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or other good cause for removal.” Should a President unilaterally fire Mueller (or indeed any subsequent Special Counsel), they would appear to a court of three judges within fourteen days of being fired. The judges would review the merits of the investigation and, if the reasons behind the firing were found to be inappropriate, would be empowered to restore the Special Counsel to his position.
These bills were both introduced by Republicans in their respective legislative bodies (Lindsey Graham in the Senate and Thom Tillis in the House) and have several Democrat cosponsors. As Senator Graham noted, “Checks and balances have served the country well for the past two hundred years… Special counsels must act within boundaries, but they must also be protected.” I urge you to add your support to Special Counsel Integrity Act, and protect our democratic institutions from whims of self-styled autocrats, both now and in the future.
Thank you for your service.