DANIEL VAUGHAN: Biden, Trump, and the Corruption of the Presidency

 August 2, 2023

If you've ever watched one of those nature documentaries about chameleons, you inevitably get footage of their eyes. Chameleons are unique in that their eyes can move independently of one another. This talent makes it capable of looking toward prey with one eye while scanning the environment with the other. Reading the news dumps on the various indictments, charges, and lists of immoral acts by Hunter Biden and Donald Trump makes me feel like that chameleon.

Here's why. On Monday, we learned that "President Biden met with and spoke to his son Hunter's international business associates on a number of occasions over a decade as Hunter Biden sought to drum up consulting deals, including while his father was vice president, his former business partner told Congress on Monday."

The New York Times coverage included this aside to its readers, "It has long been known that the elder Mr. Biden at times interacted with his son's business partners." That would be new information for the average New York Times reader. And this reporting came shortly after Senator Grassley released whistleblower evidence that "the Bidens" received a $5 million bribe. It's straightforward quid-pro-quo that the DOJ and FBI are slow-walking to avoid a deep investigation, as they've done for five years.

Donald Trump's Criminal Indictments.

Then on Tuesday, the DOJ released more criminal indictments against former president Donald Trump. The four new criminal counts deal with conspiracy to defraud the United States government, conspiracy and attempt to block an official proceeding, and conspiracy against civil rights. The text of the 45-page indictment can be read here.

The indictment presents strong evidence that Donald Trump knowingly lied about losing the 2020 election. It's strong evidence because so much of it is public knowledge — Trump's words, his advisor's responses, and more are included in books of that time and more. Trump comes across as a non-stop avalanche of lies and deceit while denigrating anything and anyone who dares suggest otherwise.

Tellingly, former Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement, "Today's indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States." He added, "Our country is more important than one man. Our Constitution is more important than any one man's career. On January 6th, Former President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. I chose the Constitution and I always will."

Shoehorning Facts into the Law.

The question, in this case, won't be the facts. Donald Trump did all the things alleged, and his motivation is what the indictment says it was leading up to January 6th. The question will end up being a legal one: can prosecutor Jack Smith stretch 18 U.S. Code § 37118 U.S. Code § 1512, and 18 U.S. Code § 241 to fit the charges of this case? Can you call relying on attorney John Eastman's "harebrained" legal theory a conspiracy that violates the law?

I tend to side with former prosecutor Andy McCarthy, who wrote before the indictments came down, "The Supreme Court has made clear that those schemes are limited to deceptive plans to obtain money or property, including bribery or kickbacks — but nothing more — in the political realm."

A Dual Perspective on Corruption: Two Scandals, One Conclusion

But remember: chameleon eyes.

With one eye, we watch evidence come out of a corrupt White House taking bribes and using the DOJ to shield itself from charges. With the other eye, we see the former President using a harebrained scheme to try and overrule an election he lost. It doesn't matter which eye you're focusing on - the conclusion is the same: this is not the executive branch the founders envisioned for this country.

This isn't about whataboutism, bothsidesism, or "calling balls and strikes." The wholesale corruption of the executive branch at a time when Congress is weak, and the press spends its days trying to undermine and delegitimize the judiciary signals a low point in our republic's history. And all this ignores how the administrative state lied and obliterated trust in any institution during the pandemic.

The Federal government is corrupt, feckless, and currently not fulfilling its designed purpose. It is a government for the rulers and against those who have ruled, with lines drawn on partisan grounds. It is a total inversion of its purpose.

Thomas Jefferson's Legacy and the Need for Change in Modern America

Thomas Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence should start ringing in any American's ears: "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

That same document warns, however, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes." And I agree with that. Americans are a prudent people. But it's hard to avoid that we're witnessing a "long train of abuses and usurpations," regardless of party or creed.

Those who are vigilant towards the course of this country cannot help but see the corruption at the very top. It's unavoidable. It's also unsustainable. Those who would steer a ship for their own benefit inevitably crash in reefs, shoals, icebergs, and shores. There is no happy ending for the state, whose sole object is the protection and objectification of the ruler. America was not designed to remain beholden to such belligerent corruption.

We talk often of the price paid by national debts. There's also a price to be paid for a state with morally belligerent leadership out for itself. We point to the examples of California, Chicago, and other failed areas of this country. We see those states and cities flounder and understand, but a larger sign is in front of us, and it's in Washington DC.

If you train both chameleon eyes on both cases, there's only one conclusion, not multiple. America needs change, and it needs it quickly.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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