By Alec Pruchnicki
Get it through your heads. They’re dusting off the hot seat for me! Lee J. Cobb as Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront.
The panic that President Trump is exhibiting as his minions flip on him (Flynn, Cohen, Manafort and others) reminds me of the fictional corrupt union official at the end of On the Waterfront. But, how can we help to dust off the political hot seat for the President?
The federal and state primary elections are finished. The next Election Day in November will give us an opportunity to take Democratic control of the House of Representatives (and maybe the Senate?) and elect a new slate of state officials, probably including Leticia James as Attorney General. How will this fit into the movement to resist the actions of the Trump administration?
The Attorney General, whether Underwood now or James in the future, has unique weapons available. Although a Democratic House might impeach Trump, the Republicans in the Senate could block an actual conviction. If special counsel Mueller (assuming he isn’t fired) brings out a report indicating that President Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors, either directly or as an unindicted co-conspirator, Republicans in Congress can again block any further action.
But, the New York State Attorney General does not have these limitations. She can, and will be, criticized by the President and his allies, but can’t be fired. She can investigate criminal activity on the part of President Trump, his family, minions, and companies, and not just impeachable offenses, civil violations, or unindicted co-conspirator improprieties. Violations of state laws are not subject to the same presidential pardon power that exists on the federal level. Federal justice department guidelines limiting the ability to subpoena the President don’t apply on the state level, although the issue might end up in the Supreme Court with a sitting Brett “the President is above the law“ Kavanaugh or someone like him involved.
These, and other strengths, which exist on the state level, might reinforce the decisions of the Attorney General, but what can citizens do to support these actions? When attacks on the Attorney General of New York, and possibly other states, occur, the public will have to back her up by whatever means necessary. This might include demonstrations in the streets, petitions, letter writing, supporting amicus legal briefs, and direct political action against any Republican, at any governmental level, who sides with the president.
There is a lot of possible corruption in Albany that should be investigated by the Attorney General. But, the corruption in Washington under the Trump administration is orders of magnitude more serious, out in the open, and undermines the very workings of our Democracy. Let the Attorney General resist Trump in the courts, while the rest of us resist in the streets and voting booths.