Senate shouldn’t grandstand on protecting Mueller investigation

Senate shouldn’t grandstand on protecting Mueller investigation
Jeff Flake (Image: YouTube screen grab via PBS NewsHour)

[Ed. – Tobin’s argument: the premise is unconstitutional. The assumption for the “bill to protect Mueller” approach is that Congress can interfere in the president’s retention of someone who works in the executive branch.  Tobin says no.  Although Tobin may be right for now, rulings like the one Friday reinstating Jim Acosta’s White House press pass will eventually erode the separation-of-powers principle to the extent that, for practical purposes, Tobin will be wrong.]

[T]he notion that Congress has the power to prevent the president from discharging anyone who works in the executive branch of government is on very shaky ground. The Senate has been here before, and the precedent isn’t one that should reassure Flake or any of his colleagues who think they are defending the Constitution against Trump.

The most prominent example of Congress trolling a president in this manner took place in 1867 when Congress passed and then overrode a presidential veto of the Tenure of Office Act. That legislation was a thinly veiled effort by a Republican Congress to hamstring President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat who had succeeded the assassinated Abraham Lincoln after being elected vice president on a Unionist ticket in 1864. … Johnson wanted to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln holdover who used federal troops to stop violence against African Americans.

The Tenure of Office Act denied the president the right to fire anyone confirmed to their positions in the federal government by the advice and consent of the Senate without senatorial approval. … But as subsequent court rulings agreed, Congress had overstepped its bounds in seeking to prevent Johnson from getting rid of officials that he didn’t like.

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