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HORIST: Court-of-public-opinion v. court-of-law in the Mueller investigation

HORIST: Court-of-public-opinion v. court-of-law in the Mueller investigation

The court-of-public-opinion operates on speculation, gossip and preconceived beliefs.  There are no rules-of-evidence or legal precedents.  The jury – we the people – are not selected to be fair minded and non-judgmental.  

Unlike the court-of-public-opinion, the court-of-law – as imperfect as it may be – provides a number of safeguards against demagoguery, false witness, unsubstantiated claims, gossip (hearsay testimony) and one-sided representation.  These are, however, the mainstays in the court-of-public-opinion.

Our court-of-public-opinion is currently corrupted by a biased media.  The court-of-public-opinion works best when there is a court-like relationship between the conflicting sides.  The prosecution or defense is best handled by those of opposing views – Republicans v. Democrats, conservatives v. liberals or any issue where there is a bifurcation of opinion by stakeholders.  The media then serves as the judge, allowing both sides to be fairly represented, and with both sides having ample opportunity to press their best arguments.  When the “judge” takes sides, you have something more akin to a “kangaroo court,” where the verdicts are influenced or even predetermined by the court.  Unfortunately, that is the case in America today.

When the court is not impartial, you have judges who impose verdicts not based on truth or evidence, but on pure bias.  This corruption of the real court system was evident in all those Democrat-controlled southern courts that wreaked injustice on so many black Americans.  We can find it in many courts run by urban political machines, where political interest trumps justice.

And we see the same problem in the court-of-public-opinion, with the media taking up the gauntlet for one side of the public debate.  The bias is clearly seen in what news producers and editors choose to report, and not report.  In telling half truths out of context – literally reversing the meaning of actions and statements.  It can be seen in the lack of alternative viewpoints on panels and in interviews.  It creates narrative designed to mislead rather than inform.

Nowhere can this corruption of the public information process be more clearly seen than in the coverage of the many aspects of the Mueller investigation.  One can expect the Democrats and the political left to prosecute the case against Trump in an aggressive and partisan manner.  It is the elitist media, however, that has abrogated its journalistic responsible and necessary roles as the provider of a fair forum and balanced presentations.

As an example …

There are clearly two views on the constitutional powers of the President of the United States.  The Democrats, being out of power, proffer the argument that traditional powers are limited.  They contend that a President has very limited power over the Executive Branch.  They see the Justice Department and the FBI as quasi-independent agencies.  They even argue that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders works for the people, not the President. This is, of course, an extension of the Deep State theory – where unelected bureaucrats have more power than any of our elected official.

In reality, every one of these so-called quasi-independent individuals or agencies works for and at the pleasure of the President.  He can fire them at any time for any reason and it is not an abuse of power or a violation of the rule-of-law.  It is the President’s constitutional power and lawful authority … period.

Does the President have a LEGAL right to shut down any investigation by the FBI, the Justice Department or a special counsel?  That answer is “yes.”   The President is not only the chief-executive-officer and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he is the chief law officer.

Can a President be indicted for obstruction of justice if he should take such action?  If you listen only to the New York/D.C. media cabal you would be led to believe that he could.  Actually, the answer is, “no.”  In fact, according to current legal interpretation, a SITTING President cannot be indicted for damn near anything –including shooting the former director of the FBI — WHILE IN OFFICE.  That has been the opinion of most constitutional scholars and the policy of the Justice Department.  The only remedy for abuse of power, criminality or unacceptable conduct by a President is impeachment and removal from office.

When former New York mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani used an extreme example of the President shooting former FBI Director James Comey, and said that Trump could not be indicted, he was perfectly correct.  Of course, the media jumped on the statement – sensationalizing it – to suggesting that Trump would be immune from ANY prosecution.  That is a lie meant to mislead we the people of the jury. 

Shamelessly, the #NeverTrump media fails to point out that a President can be impeached and removed from office – and most certainly would be in such a theoretical case – and then could and would be indicted and face justice just like any other citizen.  That latter point was intentionally left out of the many lopsided analysis on MSNBC and CNN.  In a very real sense, they blocked exculpating facts from being presented to the public jury.

To further move the jury in the court-of-public-opinion, folks like Joe Scarborough took Giuliani’s hypothetical academic example and claimed that he said the President could legally assassinate the head of the FBI.  In a court of law, there would have been an objection to such a provocative and misleading statement – and it would have been sustained. In the court-of-public-opinion, the media controls the testimony and the flow of facts.

The Democrats and the press suggest that the January 29, 2018 letter to Robert Mueller claims that the President is exempt from the rule-of-law.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Trump’s attorneys were expressing their opinion and judgment on what the law says.  They were expressing the long-held constitutional and legal rights of a President.

Then there is the issue of pardons.  The left and the media argue that the President’s power to grant pardons is limited – especially if the pardon is given for “corrupt purposes.”  That argument may sound good in the court-of-public-opinion, but it has no validity in a court-of-law.  Presidents have an unlimited and unfettered power to pardon anyone for any reason … period.  The only possible question is a self-pardon, and that has never been determined by the Supreme Court, so whether Trump can or cannot pardon himself is a meaningless public debate at this point – even when expressed by partisan lawyers. That is an unsettled question.

So much of this media banter over the constitutional authorities of a president is what lawyers would call a “moot point” – it has no relevance.  Just like the oft-predicted firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the reporting on the powers of the President have no relevancy until there is an action.  The President has not been indicted.  He has not been subpoenaed.  He has fired none of the aforementioned law officials.  He has not pardoned anyone associated with the Mueller investigation.  And he has shown no interest in pardoning himself.  In fact, President Trump has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing.

All the controversy is hypothetical and designed to undermine President Trump for political reasons.  The central villain is the anti-Trump, anti-Republican, anti-conservative news media that has abused its privilege as the impartial arbiter of public issues to put its ink-stained thumb on the scales of justice in the court-of-public-opinion.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry HoristLarry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.