President Bill Clinton took an oath to obey all the laws of the land. He then became entangled in an investigation that turned up an inappropriate relationship with a White House intern. He was summoned to testify to a federal grand jury about that relationship, he swore to tell the truth and then, um, fibbed about it.
House Republicans were so outraged they impeached him for it, put him on trial in the Senate, where he eventually was acquitted.
All of that over a sex scandal. Sheesh!
Now a sitting U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has allegedly been caught in a much more serious lie of his own.
He took an oath to tell the truth to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings. He told senators he never had any conversations with Russian government officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Now comes reporting from “enemy of the people” media outlets that, yep, the AG did talk to the Russians.
Should he stay or should he go? Congressional Democrats want Sessions to quit. I won’t go that far just yet.
I do, though, believe the questions surrounding Sessions’s relationship with Donald J. Trump — they’re close friends and even closer political allies — disqualifies him from the get-go from pursuing any kind of unbiased, impartial and thorough investigation into the president’s relationship with Russia.
Some top Democrats want him out. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. What’s interesting to me and others is that a number of key Republicans have joined their Democratic “friends” in seeking Sessions’s recusal from any potential investigation.
The president, quite naturally, is going to label the reporting of Sessions’s contacts with the Russians as “fake news.” He’ll debunk reporters for the Washington Post and New York Times — who have been leading the media probe — as “dishonest” purveyors of fiction.
As one who once toiled the craft of journalism, although surely not at this level, I take great personal offense to Trump’s penchant for counterattack. Rather than reacting seriously and with measured calm, the nation’s head of state goes off on these rants about the media’s so-called status at the people’s “enemy.”
The attorney general has no business investigating whether the president had any kind of improper relationship with Russian government officials prior to his taking office. Whether he should remain on the job, well, that will have to be determined quickly.
I know that the law is designed to presume someone’s innocence. The world of politics, though, is a different animal altogether. In that world, the presumption often infers guilt and the accused must prove his or her innocence.
It might not always be fair. It’s just the way it is.