Sometimes Justice Department independence means standing up to the president. And sometimes it means taking unpopular positions in defense of the presidency.
Jack Goldsmith is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003.
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By every public indication, Acting Attorney General Whitaker has not, as many feared, interfered in any way with investigations into President Trump and his associates.
From a detached legal perspective, Trump’s actions are not terribly controversial or worrisome. In context, they are.
In his confirmation hearings, Barr committed himself to transparency that is consistent with strict adherence to relevant law, which contemplates little transparency.
President Trump currently has the authority to withdraw the United States from NATO in a manner not subject to judicial review. Congress could change that.
Questions about the legal basis for, and prudence of, treating the president as a national security threat.
The United States has thus effectively shifted to an administrative regime for making international agreements, but it has yet to craft an adequate system of oversight and accountability to go along with that regime.