Is it time for The Office of Public Prosecutions?

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In the age of Trumpism, it’s time to look how other countries ensure an independent Justice Department

During the Trump era, it’s rare that I agree with anything Alan Dershowitz says. The 81-year-old ‘TV’ lawyer has gone off the deep end it seems, especially when you consider his ridiculous performance during the recent impeachment trial.

But once in a while, he gets it right. A few nights ago on CNN, he was debating his former pupil, Jeffrey Toobin, concerning the recent intervention of Bill Barr into Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation from federal prosecutors. Dershowitz, of course, first sided with Trump on the issue, saying that he did have the ‘legal’ right to intervene in that particular case. There was nothing in the law that says he couldn’t do it.

But then he also explained that it wasn’t right for him to do so. Because of the long understood norms and traditions established for over two centuries, the Justice Department must maintain a red line of independence from the President, especially as it pertains to criminal matters. Without that red line, we risk the sorts of presidential abuses our Founders warned us about.

However, we all know that this President doesn’t understand, nor does he care about such norms. He will stretch the Constitution to the breaking point if it serves his interest. Never before have we had a president act in this manner, although Richard Nixon came pretty close. And now, fresh off an impeachment acquittal from his cowardly sycophants in the Senate, he’s emboldened. He’s ready to seek revenge on anyone who gets in his way.

Presidents before Trump knew better. But now, we’ve got a guy in the oval office who flouts his authority like no other. And he’s got an Attorney General willing to do his bidding. Go after a political enemy? Sure, no problem. Intervene on behalf of long-time friends and advisors to the President? Absolutely. There was a time when both political parties would shutter in disbelief at what’s going on. Sadly, we do not have that luxury anymore.

But maybe we’re not going about this the right way. Perhaps there’s something more drastic we could do as a country that would prevent this kind of behavior from any future wannabe King of the United States. It might be time to look at what some other countries do, or are doing, safeguarding the rule of law.

In his debate with Toobin, Dershowitz mentioned something called The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). My ears perked up because I’d never heard the term before. In the UK, Australia, Canada, and other countries, the red-line separating political and prosecutorial decisions is much more precise than here in the U.S. Dershowitz remarked that in a perfect world, we’d have the same kind of system here.

In Australia, the basic premise of the ODPP is that it is in everybody’s interest, including that of politicians, that a person independent of the political process should make what are often complicated and contentious decisions.

In 1990, The Director of Public Prosecutions Act passed with unanimous support in the Australian Parliament. In introducing the bill, the then-Attorney General noted the following:

The Director of Public Prosecutions is an independent statutory office responsible for prosecuting criminal offenses in the name of the Crown. The director’s statutory independence ensures that prosecution decisions are perceived to be and are made according to legal considerations and are free from political influence.”

Similarly, the UK also utilizes a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP is the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, which is independent of the government and the police and prosecutes most criminal cases in England and Wales. The DPP is appointed by and responsible to the Attorney General, but again, remains independent of government.

Independent of government. It has a nice ring to it. In Trump world, though, independent of the White House is what’s needed. It’s way passed the time to take a look at how we can plug the holes in our Constitution—holes that this President continues to exploit for all of his personal narcissistic goals. Nothing is more critical than establishing at least some kind of separation between the Justice Department and the President of the United States. I think it might be too late, however.

Again, at least one political party seems to get it. In June 2019, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Kamala Harris, and Richard Blumenthal co-sponsored a piece of legislation called The Security from Political Interference in Justice Act, which would increase transparency to protect DOJ law enforcement decisions from political interference.

The bill would impose essential reporting requirements for contacts between the Justice Department and the White House about specific cases or investigations. As Senator Whitehouse said, “Politics has no place in the Department of Justice’s enforcement of the law. Never before have we seen a president so heedless of the Department’s traditions and spirit, and so singularly focused on his own political and personal self-interest at the expense of justice.”

Remember, the bill was introduced in 2019, and the Senator’s forceful words above were spoken at the same time. What’s going on now, in other words, isn’t anything new. What is new, however, is the degree to which this President is now circumventing the rule of law.

The bill sits somewhere near the confines of Mitch McConnell’s desk. It will not see the light of day, unfortunately, just like the nearly 300 or so passed by the Democratic House of Representatives.

These are dire times. It’s time to think outside the box. Perhaps a restructuring of the kind our friends in the UK and Australia have done is the way to go. As Senator Whitehouse said, we’ve never seen this kind of blatant disregard of our norms and traditions.

If we had cooperation from those on the other side of the aisle, we could come up with a bi-partisan solution. It’s not going to happen, though. The 2020 election is the last best hope we have. Most of us never thought we’d have a president like this. The norms practiced by previous presidents are no longer an option not to do something.

Because if we can have a Donald Trump win the presidency today, who’s to say we won’t have another one at some point? Yes, even a Democrat. After this President, those gaping holes in our Constitution will need to be filled. If he wins another term? God help us.

32 comments

  1. Like you, I had never heard of a Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, so I was interested (though I don’t trust Dershowitz any farther than I can throw a feather). It sounds like a viable solution to the fact that there is no longer even an arm’s length between the Oval Office and the Department of (In)Justice, however as you said, in today’s political climate with the majority in the Senate being Trump’s toadies, there is little to no hope that the idea would fly. And … even if it did … I can see it being manned by less than independent people. We are definitely between a rock and a hard place here, as evidenced by the fact that some 1,142 former Justice Department employees signed a letter expressing their horror over the current situation. Thanks for this excellent post, Jeff. If we can oust the current regime in November, we must, as you say, supplement the Constitution, fill those gaping holes, so that another Trump can never happen in this country. I shall re-blog in a bit.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for the reblog Jill! Yes, it really makes sense when you think about it. The thing is, I’m surprised Congress never tried to go down this road, and I’m talking even before Trump. But, because of Trump it’s now imperative we do something. Sadly it’s going to be on Nov. 3, 2020 Jill. Nothing will happen until then, The spineless R’s would never even consider it under King Trump. I bet they would if it were Dem doing this stuff though!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think that until now, there was no reason for Congress to consider such an addition, for we’ve rarely had a president take control of the DOJ in such a manner, and the one that tried, quickly got his hands slapped. You’re so right that our last best hope is November 3rd, but since that is 8.5 months away, I very much worry about what he might do between now and then. We know without a doubt that he will attempt to rig and interfere in the election, probably successfully to an extent. But, what other abominations will he use his office for? Will he shut the EPA down altogether? He’s already greatly reduced their budget and cut the agency. He’s called for unwarranted investigations into the likes of Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, Jim Comey, the Bidens, and others I’m sure we don’t even know about. Who’s next? Sigh. Yeah, if Obama or Bill Clinton had done any single thing that Trump has done, they would have been impeached in short order. Trump is not called “Teflon Don” without reason.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, it’s fear of the unknown with this guy. I think we don’t even know have the stuff he’s already done. You know how he loves talking about the Ukrainian ‘server?’ What I would love is for someone to leak his conversations–the secret ones they put on White House server– with other world leaders. Can you imagine what’s on those? I bet we’d all be having nightmares if we heard them. And you’re right, as if on cue, he’s already tweeting about the Roger Stone issue and bitching about Mueller today. He’s completely out of control!!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I’d bet my last dollar that we don’t know half of what he’s done. I read today that more laws will be waived in order to move forward on his wall … apparently it is a big deal to get a certain amount completed by election time so he can tout his “great achievement” to his loyal followers. The laws being waived pertain to contractors, so … I wonder if perhaps either a) he has a financial interest, or b) they will be taking shortcuts in the area of safety? I’m going to see what I can find out later tonight. I hear the judge has refused to delay Stone’s sentencing … that’s a good sign! He’s also bitching about Obama today … when does he ever find time to actually do any work???

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Tweeting, insulting, golfing, and spraying on his ‘golden’ tan. Seems to be about it for the King. Not a bad gig, if you can get it!! LOL

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    The nation … at least those of us who aren’t drinking Trump’s toxic concoction, is aghast at the breech of protocol in the Department of Justice regarding the Roger Stone case. Our friend Jeff has done some research into the way some other nations have gone about ensuring that the Department of Justice is not influenced by the government, but rather remains independent in order to maintain the rule of law. I hope you’ll take a minute to read Jeff’s piece, for this is something that will affect us all for years, perhaps decades to come. Thanks Jeff!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Maybe the times call for something drastic, but in the meantime, ice cold milk is much nicer than Trump’s Toxic Concoction that doesn’t even have a good name.You need to send swat teams to kidnap Barr and Moscow Mitch. Trump won’t know how to operate without those two so he might have to replace Bill Barr with someone from the DOJ who may just be an honest lawyer. He will appoint one of his minions in the Senate to replace Moscow Mitch but who won’t have his strength and who may be persuaded to send through some of the bipartisan bills from the House and that may just be the start of the flood.
    I suggest you strand the two kidnapees in Antarctica where it’s a very long walk to the next bust stop and the diet may be boring. It may just be time to start making some people pay for their crimes when they get back.
    Hugs

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Kidnap Mitch? Won’t work. He would find a way to escape. Just give me a way to get the idiots here in Kentucky who stand outside the polling place bragging about how they have never voted to get their a***s inside to vote and maybe we will get at least one career politician out of D.C and back here to look for an honest job that he might be capable of. As long as he doesn’t try for governor here! Too many misguided idiots who think he’s right. Right up there in the same boat as the Turnip brained one. Sure wish that boat would sink!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Good solution there. A few Democrats along with them. It’s time for a real shake-up and NO MORE CAREER POLITICIANS! Mitch would never leave the ship though, so send a few rats to his stateroom.
        Have tried emailing but they must not be going thru. I’m seriously thinking about tossing all electronics out the window. Maybe one of the pols will be walking under it at the time.l…….

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Hello kentuckyangel24 . The greatest con the Republicans pulled was to convince the poor that they cared about them. If you listen to the poorest of tRump cult members they swear he cares about them, this is about a guy who equates wealthy with worthiness. He surrounds himself with the most outlandish trappings of wealth because he is terrified of not seeming wealthy.
        The wealthy millionaires in congress have managed to convince those below the poverty line needing federal assistance like the coal miner families that they are really concerned about them and have their interests a heart, just vote for them one more time. Now with State Propaganda TV they don’t know how badly they have been screwed or who is to blame. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I’m one of those poor people of Kentucky, living on Social Security and also living with Multiple Sclerosis, not exactly an inexpensive disease, Medicare only because I get $10 a year too much SS to qualify for Medicaid also. I don’t think I’m overly intelligent but if I can see what the idiot is up to why can’t the rest of them? I think it’s mostly apathy that keeps the idiots in office, add to that the dirty politics that smear each candidate according to popularity with the good ones getting the worst of it, tha fact that you need millions of $$$ to run a campaign, and face the reality that Abe Lincoln couldn’t be elected in today’s world. Honesty takes flight the minute someone tosses their hat into that filthy ring. Limit spending, limit terms of office, limit time on TV. I know, this is stepping on freedom of speech so it can’t be done honestly, but it sure would help the right people get elected and by that I mean the honest ones. Too many people think only the truth is spoken in public comments on TV, radio, internet and newspaper. I’m laughing at that one even if it is a bitter laugh. Personally, I hate politics, but this is the time to wake up and smell the skunk in the woodpile! The odor is growing by the minute and only those who truly don’t care if we remain a democracy or not are finding clothespins heavy enough to mask the odor.
        sorry, at times I climb up on a soapbox and pontificate!
        Angie

        Liked by 4 people

      4. Hello Angie. Well said, very well said. I agree with almost all of what you said! I disagree on a point, first I think you are intelligent as you write a really well comment with a proveable point. You do very well at getting your point across. I would feel very comfortable asking you to give your opinion on anything.

        On freedom of speech in the legal usage it is about the government not being able to stop speech it dislikes. There use to be the fairness doctrine which forced media to provide equal time to candidates. Republicans got rid of it. I wonder if other countries have a honesty rule about advertising? Now that I think of it we do have rules about advertising products, why not rules on advertising politicians?

        Take care of yourself. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hi Angie! Thanks for the follow and welcome aboard. I’ve followed you back as well. I threw a couple of bucks toward Amy McGrath a few weeks back. I think it’s essential that the guy who’s been Senator in your state for decades, is defeated this year. I know it won’t be easy but nothing of note will ever get done with him still Majority Leader in the Senate. Next to Trump, he’s the next worse threat to our democracy, in my view. Do you feel the same about Mitch McConnell?

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Twitchy Mitchy is an aberration who has twisted with the times, the truth, and the people of Kentucky. He was a Democrat when first elected by the democrats in Kentucky, did a halfway decent job for us, but when the republicans got organized he jumped aboard their bandwagon and tried to convince us that he was still working for each of us. HE IS DANGEROUS AND MUST BE DEFEATED if we are going to get back to the concepts this country was founded on! And the only way that will happen is if we can get more people to the polls! My state representative is Jim Glenn, elected last year by a majority of ONE vote! Get too many people think their vote doesn’t count!

        Aaarrrggh! It makes me crazy! I’m a poet and musician, not a political person. I only climb on my soapbox when apathy, idiotic rhetoric and the threat of another term for McConnell are involved!

        Liked by 3 people

      7. Good to hear Angie. Keep fighting and keep voicing your opinions! Ditching Mitch…and the orange King of the White House are our only hope. One winning and the other losing won’t cut it. It’s both.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. They both definitely need to go together. Like all parasites they feed on each other to stay alive and the more they feed the stronger they will become. Let’s put them on a fast boat to China and strand them there for a few years. Even if they manage to escape corona-virus something else will come along soon. It always does!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Jeff. your sentence “If we had cooperation from those on the other side of the aisle, we could come up with a bi-partisan solution.” says it all. If we had even the smallest amount of cooperation from the Republicans we wouldn’t have the current problem. If we have 35 to 40% cooperation we would have a decent country still. The problem is since Newt Gingrich the Republicans think compromise is getting everything they want and the other side apologizes for not conceding fast enough. Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree Scottie. Newtie was the founder of the political rancor we see in full force these days. It’s all about ‘owning the libs,’ tax cuts, unqualified right-wing judges, and letting the fossil fuel companies pollute our environment. That’s the Republican Party of today. And I haven’t even mentioned how they’re cheating their way to stay in power. Thanks Newt, for getting this nightmare started!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure either, anymore. It’s refreshing to see some pushback at least. The legal/judicial career people are sounding the alarm. It’s probably going to take massive resignations to wake up the Republicans. Hell, I can’t even say for sure that would work either. Trump’s grip on the Party is as solid as it’s ever been. I don’t think this will end well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff, great post. We need to change the paradigm or police the current one better. I was thinking this morning two things. The GOP brags on being the party of law. They can no longer do that with the most corrupt and deceitful president in our lifetimes. They can no longer do that with Senators aiding and abetting his illicit, unethical and deceitful behavior. They can no longer do that with an AG who bends over backwards for this corrupt president in spite of what he said to the contrary.

    The other is long ago, the GOP could not claim to be a party of truth, but that has gotten worse under this president. We have a Russian fueled sputnik radio station in Iowa that is broadcasting Trump favored conspiracy theories. We have Senators who parrot conspiracy theories to fuel a base of voters. I find this both insulting and Machiavellian. Ted Cruz fueled speculation that Obama was trying to take over Texas, when he knew it was the military doing training exercise. Yesterday, Tom Cotton espoused an unproven theory on China inventing the coronavirus on purpose.

    Long ago, I used to think Congress had better information to make decisions. Maybe they did then, but they ignore it now and listen to Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Jones, Trump who would not know the truth if they tripped over it. There is a reason Trump does not want to address Russian influence – he is counting on it again. Senator John McCain wrote after the Helsinki debacle that Trump was being traitorous. I agree.

    I left the GOP in 2007 for several reasons, one being climate change denial, but the other being a tendency to make things up. Both sides lie, but it is not a normal distribution being heavily weighted to the GOP untruthfulness. At least, this is what this Independent voter thinks. To be truthful, the model matters not, if our elected officials look the other way when someone cheats, lies or breaks the law. Keith

    Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I always love to hear your take Keith, because you ARE an independent. And, because you used to be a member of the GOP. There are many of you out there. Your voice is needed, and people like you, Rick Wilson, George Conway..etc…are being heard. But when a man like Trump has such a cult-like following, they don’t even have the capacity to listen. It’s amazing some of the conversations I’ve had with Trumpers on Twitter. I realize Twitter isn’t America, but you still get a sense from those people how deranged they really are.
      I’m glad you mentioned McCain. I think, if he were alive during the impeachment trial, he would have joined Romney in voting to remove Trump. I really believe that. I didn’t always agree with him, but I always respected him. His resolve and independence is missing from the GOP…big time. And yes, I saw Cotton’s comments on the coronavirus…..such an embarrassment.
      Like I said in my post, it’s way passed time to take a look at the red-line of independence that we’ve had for most of the last 230+ years, as it pertains to Justice and the Executive branch. I fear we’re at the tip of the iceberg.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Jeff. Maybe we should put the onus on his followers to defend why we should not hold the believe that he is corrupt and deceitful. Then, we could probe with questions. When someone says that we just don’t like Trump, the direct answer is I personally want to trust the president of the US, but I simply cannot trust this corrupt and deceitful person. Keith

        Liked by 3 people

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