Former Vice President Joe Biden’s maladroit statements along the campaign trail have generally hurt him without helping President Trump very much. In recent days, Biden has gone to the next step – materially helping Trump.
Initially, Biden said he would not … repeat NOT … obey a subpoena to testify at the impeachment trial – and presumably at any hearing of the United States Senate. His stated rationale was that Trump is violating the Constitution. That dog-ate-my-homework response is an excuse looking for a reason.
In that one statement, Biden established that some people are above the law; politics is a game of bald-faced hypocrisy; and President Trump is correct in blocking witnesses.
The only conceivable reason for Biden to fail to respond to a subpoena is that anything he was asked would require an exclamation of presidential Executive Privilege. Of course, that is not easy to credibly claim when one does not even know what questions will be asked – and any such Privilege could be claimed on a question by question basis during such testimony.
In addition, Biden is NOT the President of the United States – even though he has erroneously claimed that title in a couple of slips-of-the-tongue. Only a real President can exert that Privilege – over himself, others and official documents.
Weeeell … Biden must have been taken to the woodshed by his advisors because– quicker than Maxine Waters can say “impeachment” — the former Vice President said he WOULD obey a congressional subpoena, even though he does not expect to be getting one.
Still, the fact that Biden knee-jerked his promised refusal of a subpoena makes Trump’s case more credible. Biden inadvertently endorsed the concept of Executive Privilege even if he does not have it or thinks he would even be called as a witness. He demonstrated his own willingness to invoke Executive Privilege if he was the President.
Yes, it is true. In this case, a President is above the laws that govern the rest of us. The extent of presidential Executive Privilege has historically been determined by the Supreme Court – as the third co-equal branch of our federal government.
That is how Democrats should have settled the current disagreement between Trump and House Democrats as to the extent of Trump’s authority. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose to make it a pre-mature and inappropriate impeachment issue rather than face a possible loss in the high court.
In making his initial claim of Executive Privilege, Biden more than justified Trump’s position. If a former Vice President – now private citizen – believed he could ignore a congressional subpoena, then the President – with a built-in right – can most certainly, and legally, ignore it.
It is not Biden’s first, biggest or likely last gaffe on the hustings, but it does keep alive the question of his fitness to be President of the United States.
So, there ‘tis.