|BARRY BLITT / THE NEW YORKER
Back in 2008 at the ass end of the Dubya interregnum, which in retrospect was so much kinder and gentler than the living hell of Donald Trump, Attorney General Michael Mukasey came up with a rationale straight out of Alice in Wonderland to explain why neither the president nor his enablers in the Justice Department could be prosecuted for the myriad violations of constitutional and international law in using Nazi-like torture techniques when interrogating suspected terrorists.
Termed Mukasey's Paradox by law school prof Jonathan Turley, it went something like this:Lawyers cannot commit crimes when they act under the orders of a president and a president cannot commit a crime when he acts under the advice of lawyers.
Well, fasten your seatbelts, Russia scandal fans, because as President Trump's criminal defense team realizes that their client is in increasingly deeper doo-doo, they're coming up with their own version of Mukasey's Paradox, as well as other confabulations, to explain why Trump cannot be held liable for collusion between he, his campaign, his transition team and Russia, among other crimes.
Let's call it Seklow's Paradox for defense lawyer Jay Sekulow, and it goes something like this:
For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute to be violated, but because there is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion, there is no crime of collusion.
Besides betraying an intellectually laziness (how much is the Republican National Committee paying these guys?), Skekulow reveals how desperate he and fellow Trump lawyers Ty Cobb and John Dowd have become as Special Counsel Robert Mueller breathes down the president's crimson neck.
Speaking of obstruction, this brings us to Dowd's Paradox, and it goes something like this:
The president cannot be charged with obstructing justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer and has every right to express his view of any case.This takes Dowd further down the rabbit hole. He had previously -- and as improbably -- argued that when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in what turned out to be a spectacularly self-defeating move that unleashed Mueller, it was perfectly legit because the president has the constitutional authority to hire and fire as he sees fit.
Tell that to the ghost of Richard Nixon, Mr. Dowd.
The House Judiciary Committee had approved three articles of impeachment against Nixon in July 1974, including obstruction of justice, before he resigned rather than face impeachment by the full House and removal from office by trial before the Senate. A quarter century late, the House impeached Bill Clinton for obstruction.
All of this brings us to the paradox of paradoxes. We'll call it Trump's Paradox, and it goes something like this:
When the president has utter contempt for the Constitution and seeks to undermine it, he is not obligated to uphold it even if his oath of office states otherwise.And so we have gone from the Trump campaign having no contacts with Russians to having innumerable contacts with Russians, with four associates now indicted and many more indictments to come as Mueller's quest for the truth -- Trump's kryptonite -- marches on.
But all of that is no big deal, according to Trump's legal Einsteins, because . . . well, stay tuned.