How to ruin a country with presidential abuse of power


Instead, run it for the public good

“But I digress from the point of our discussion, which is that there is no greater vice than greed, especially among those governing our country. For to use public office for personal gain is not only immoral, but also criminal and just plain wicked… For those who wish to gain the favor of the public, there is no better way than self-restraint and honesty…For years, we have watched in silence while all the wealth of the world is gathered into the hands of a few men. Our willingness to let this happen is all the more evident because none of these men even bothers to pretend he is not doing wrong or tries to conceal his greed.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, “How To Run a Country,” translated by Philip Freeman from Latin Texts.

“Marcus Cicero, Rome’s greatest statesman and orator, was elected to the Roman Republic’s highest office at a time when his beloved country was threatened by power-hungry politicians, dire economic troubles, foreign turmoil, and political parties that refused to work together,” Philip Freeman wrote on his book jacket. He served in 63 B.C., advocating for the return to traditional republican government, after many civil wars.

“How to Run A Country” can easily be How to Ruin A Country if one inserts “I” into the equation. By deleting the “I,” a president can instead, be a running a country.

America’s 45th and 43rd presidents and the free press

America’s executive branch of the government is not in an actual skirmish with its citizens in terms of a civil war, yet the news headlines in the last six months portray a president at odds with the free press, calling them daily with a brand he hopes would stick: “Fake News.”

It got me wondering where did that concept of fake news come from? Do you recall, readers?

In my research, I came across Mary Mapes’ book on “Truth: The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power 2005,” where she tells the tale of George W. Bush’s presidency and the lies which surrounded the wars and weaknesses, including the story of Abu Ghraib and the abuse of the Iraqi detainees at the hands of American soldiers.

That during that time, “the president’s allies had worked hard to keep the story [Pres. Bush’s powerful family connections had won him a coveted spot in the National Guard, protecting him from being one of the more than two and half million Americans sent to Vietnam War] suppressed for decades. The suppression of truth around Bush’s National Guard record has been sustained by GW Bush’s allies for decades,” according to Mapes.

It was a presidency she contends that was used to lying — a presidency made emboldened by FOX News. On page 222, she wrote about how they were being pursued by a local FOX television crew that showed up at Dallas – Fort Worth International.

Alleged fake news

Question: “Dan [Rather], you broadcast those fake memos. Do you feel duped?”

Reply: Well, you work for FOX News. Do you feel duped?” That was right after the airing of the Bush-Guard story on CBS on Sept. 8, 2004.

Thirteen years later, we have 45th President Donald Trump who tweets incessantly about FAKE NEWS, creating a swampy, suspicious environment for media reporters to be instantly discredited for their stories.

Yet, it is not the press that is on the skewers; it is really the revelations, day in and day out, of the involvement of Russian hackers in America’s 2016 presidential election and now, moneyed launderers in dubious businesses that were set up by a Russian operative in American banks to the tune of billion dollars.

It is a dragnet of many potential criminal violations being exposed in the free press and even by Donald Trump Jr.’s emails.

It is a methodical investigation led by Robert Mueller, appointed as special counsel, who has assembled his team of now at 13 lawyers, as of June 16, 2017, according to CNN.com.

Politico’s Garrett Graff has described “Robert Mueller might just be America’s straightest arrow—a respected, nonpartisan and fiercely apolitical public servant whose only lifetime motivation has been the search for justice. He was the most influential and longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover himself, and someone who has settled since his retirement from government in 2013 into being that rare voice-beyond-reproach that companies and organizations recruit to lead investigations when they need to tell shareholders or the public that they’ve hired the most seasoned and respected person they can find, someone who will pursue a case wherever it leads without fear or favor.”

On Friday, July 21, the Washington Post reported that “Pres. Trump is now exploring how he might give presidential pardon to those who will be implicated by Mueller’s investigation.

“Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

“Bloomberg News is reporting that the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on President Trump’s business transactions. The report quoted an anonymous source as saying that Trump’s financial ties to Russia are the focus: “FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.”

The Washington Post has not independently confirmed Bloomberg’s report, in today’s news reports. Bloomberg and the Washington Post have now reported that the investigations will zero in on the president’s tax returns, which he refused to reveal, since he ran for office in 2016 and a public expectation and trust that each president has kept since running for office, but for Trump.

Where would this political drama amongst the White House and the Special Counsel’s investigations, including the revelations made by the free press take us, the American public?

Will this force the president to fire Robert Mueller the same way he did for James Comey?

If the president were the president of a private company, he can dispose of any employee, provided he has just cause, a misconduct of an employee, that leads to his termination.

But, as president of the USA, he is bound by constraints on his power, as well as what would potentially be criminal violations reminiscent of Watergate. Here, Robert Mueller is simply doing his duty to pursue without fear or favor an investigation into the 2016 Presidential elections, that has now spilled over into global money laundering.

As the 82nd U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted today, “Trump cannot define or constrain Mueller investigation. If he tries to do so this creates issues of constitutional and criminal dimension.”

Having had no experience of being employed in government, but for the last six months in office, Trump will be pleasantly surprised that his conduct is governed not just by the ethics of his public position, but the criminal sanctions, should he abuse his executive powers.

Basis of public policy and public conduct of presidents

On April 30, 1789, George Washington delivered an inaugural address, as the unanimously elected chief executive in the Senate Chamber of Federal Hall in New York City, exhorting how he would approach making national policy, “In these honorable qualifications, I behold the surest pledges, that as on one side, no local prejudices, or attachments; no separate views, nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests: so, on another, the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of free government, be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.”

Then Pres. George Washington articulated the “pursuit of the public good, a reverence for the characteristics rights of freemen, and a regard for public harmony.”

He further shared his conviction, “From this resolution I have in no instance departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the Executive Department ; and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.”

As with any presidency, short lived or not, may Trump’s predecessors and advisors lead him into a footpath of nobility and public morality, and not by an ill-chosen conduct of immorality, wickedness and worst, criminal as Marcus Cicero has articulated in 63 B.C. in “How to Run a Country.”

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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 9 years now. She contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Mexico and 22 national parks in the US, in pursuit of her love for arts.

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