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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ex US senators warn of `constitutional crisis` under Trump

AP, Washington :Forty-four former US Senators from both major US parties warned Monday of threats to US democracy under President Donald Trump, and a "constitutional crisis" for America.They said the convergence of events - as special counsel Robert Mueller probes whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 election in his favor, and a soon-to-be Democrat-led House starts launching related investigations - made for highly precarious political waters.The 44 include Democrats such as Bill Bradley and John Kerry and Republicans such as Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Richard Lugar, and they paint the situation ominously as a constitutional crisis."It is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security," the ex-lawmakers wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece Monday."We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld," they wrote. And "at other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy. Today is once again such a time," the group stressed.They urged current and future members of the US Senate to make sure that "partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest." Bipartisan cooperation has plunged with Trump in power.How lawmakers in both houses of Congress handle the crisis will be key to how the nation handles Trump's being its first sitting president implicated in a felony.Referred to as "Individual-1," Trump was directly implicated in ordering payments to alleged ex-lovers - which prosecutors believe sought to influence the outcome of the election.A bipartisan group of nearly four dozen former senators warned current and future members of the Senate on Monday that the United States is "entering a dangerous period," and urged them to defend America's democracy by serving national interests rather than political ideologies."We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation and the House's commencement of investigations of the president and his administration," the 44 ex-lawmakers wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post. "The likely convergence of these two events will occur at a time when simmering regional conflicts and global power confrontations continue to threaten our security, economy and geopolitical stability." The senators continued: "It is a time, like other critical junctures in our history, when our nation must engage at every level with strategic precision and the hand of both the president and the Senate. We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld."The senators - 32 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two independents - also stressed the importance of casting aside party differences in confronting impending challenges, noting that during their time in Congress, "we were allies and at other times opponents, but never enemies.""At other critical moments in our history, when constitutional crises have threatened our foundations, it has been the Senate that has stood in defense of our democracy," the senators wrote. "Today is once again such a time."Though the op-ed did not refer to President Donald Trump by name, its ominous tone and solemn appeals were reminiscent of another opinion piece that recently riled up Washington - the anonymous letter published by The New York Times in September alleging that a "quiet resistance" within Trump's executive branch had banded together to "frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."