The aggressive letter from the White House counsel to Congress, announcing that the president will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, is further evidence of the deterioration of norms in the conduct of senior government positions.
Bob Bauer served as White House Counsel to President Obama. In 2013, the President named Bob to be Co-Chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. He is a Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law, as well as the co-director of the university's Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic.
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Rules and Norms in the Trump Presidency: The Risks and Rewards of ‘Playing It Straight’ on the Inside
James Comey, Don McGahn and Robert Mueller all decided they had to break or bend rules and norms because “playing it straight” was not an option in the Trump presidency.
Trump is aggressively challenging the legal and normative limits on a feature of the powerful modern presidency: presidents’ use of executive branch powers and resources for the waging of their reelection campaigns.
The most that can be hoped of someone in Mueller’s challenging position is that if he made mistakes, it will be apparent that he erred in good faith, not for condemnable lack of judgment, independence or courage—and in all likelihood, another pick for the job would have done worse.
Testimony by Robert Mueller risks becoming a political circus. But Mueller could use the opportunity to reflect on his experience operating under the current legal regime for special counsels.
If the president’s lawyers release their prewritten rebuttal in response to the Mueller report, attorney-client privilege will not shield them from having to testify before Congress.