What is abuse of power?
That question has become increasingly important to Americans. A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 54 percent of the people in this country believe that President Donald Trump is abusing the power of the presidency.
Long History of Abuse of Power
That should not come as a surprise to anyone. The president has a long personal and professional history of abusing the power he accumulated from wealth and social status.
- He used vexatious litigation to financially crush people who offended him in some way;
- He used bankruptcy to stiff small business people and contractors out of money they invested in his numerous failed business ventures;
- He used IRS tax loopholes for at least 18 years to avoid paying his fair share of taxes;
- He used his star power to physically and sexually grope women’s genitalia;
- He used phony business ventures to cheat people out of their hard-earned money;
- He used his wealth to sexually harass women throughout his adult years; and
- He used his real estate ventures to discriminate against African-Americans.
The list of his abuses of power in his personal/professional lives are endless.
The voters in this country, although not a majority of them, got exactly what they paid for—a man who believes he smarter, better, sharper, and greater than any other human being currently living on this planet. He believes that abuse of power is a birth right.
Promises to Drain Swamp Were a Ruse
Trump promised his voters during one of his debates with Hillary Clinton that he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute the Democratic presidential nominee for her unauthorized use of a personal email during server her tenure as Secretary of State. In other words, he promised to abuse the power of the presidency to destroy a political opponent.
Unprecedented Abuse of Power During First 6 Months of Presidency
As president, Trump has fulfilled his promise to abuse the power of the presidency with the following actions:
- He has abused the power of the presidency by issuing a series of patently unconstitutional executive orders to ban Muslims from entering the country;
- He and his family have abused the power of the presidency to enhance their own personal wealth and business ventures;
- He has abused the power of the presidency by asking two congressional committee chairmen to contact the news media to discredit the numerous law enforcement and congressional probes into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with people associated with his presidential campaign;
- He has abused the power of the presidency by asking the heads of two intelligence-gathering agencies to push back against the FBI’s investigation into allegations involving collusion between Russia his campaign;
- He has abused the presidency by appointing a former military general as his national security advisor after being explicitly warned that the general had an unlawful and unethical relationship with Russian officials and other corrupt foreign leaders; and
- He has abused the power of the presidency by firing the former director of the FBI after the director refused to shut down the agency’s investigation into criminal wrongdoing between Trump’s campaign staff (and political appointees) with Russian officials, including representatives of its murderous intelligence bureau.
What happens when public officials, like the president and his appointees, abuse their power?
White House Insiders Need Experienced Criminal Counsel, Not Yes Men
Three recent examples have garnered nationwide media attention. President Trump, his family, political advisors and political appointees should think about these cases before they testify before congressional hearings, federal grand juries, or make statements to the FBI or other federal law enforcement officials.
Tales of Political Corruption, Convictions are Instructive
First, there is the case of Lee Baca, the former Sheriff of Los Angeles County. The former powerful sheriff was recently sentenced to three years in a federal prison after he was convicted of obstructing a federal investigation into civil rights violations and corruption in the sprawling county jail he once operated. It seems Baca lied to federal prosecutors and FBI agents about some of his former deputies trying to conceal inmates with knowledge about the federal probes.
Baca, now 74, would have received a longer sentence from U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson had it not been for the former sheriff’s failing health. Baca’s attorney pleaded for the lenient sentence because his client is apparently in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Then there is the case of Chris Epps, the longest serving corrections commissioner in Mississippi history. USAToday reported recently about the nearly 20-year sentence imposed on Epps following his 2015 guilty plea in a federal courtroom in Jackson, Mississippi to bribery and filing a false income tax return.
Known for his expensive business attire, it seems that the former commissioner accepted bribes and other payoffs from a laundry list of contractors, business people, politicians and other elected officials doing business with the state’s prison system. Because he cooperated with the FBI and wore a wire, federal prosecutors requested a more lenient sentence of 13 years as a reward for his cooperation.
U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, however, was having nothing to do with leniency.
“This is not a simple crime,” the judge said before imposing sentence on Epps. “This is the largest graft operation in the state of Mississippi, definitely the largest I have seen. Epps betrayed the State of Mississippi.”
Finally, down the abuse of power food chain, there is the case of Lt. Carlos Richard Martinez, Lt. Eugenio Perez, and Armando Moronta, three prison guards with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Federal authorities, according to Yahoo News, have charged the three guards with sexually abusing female inmates awaiting immigration proceedings at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. They chose the most vulnerable women, the ones who could barely speak English. Prosecutors said Martinez used physical force to subdue one victim he had repeatedly raped.
Great Men are Almost Always Bad Men
The great 19th century English politician, historian and moralist, Lord John Edward Acton, sent a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 that offered this instruction: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
These are dangerous times in America. The expansion of existing wars and the potential for starting new ones are being used to distract Americans from the political crisis engulfing the nation’s presidency. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are facing daunting challenges and political intimidation as they try to get to the bottom of the corrupt influence Russia seems to have in the Trump administration. Our judicial and prison systems will both be challenged, and even threatened, once these investigations are concluded.
And it will all be because of staggering abuses of power.