Ex-presidents are not above the rule of law

If American leaders and institutions were allowed to act outside the bounds of the law, it would undermine the very foundation of democracy and erode public trust. One of the fundamental pillars of American democracy — of all democracies — is the rule of law which ensures that no one, regardless of their position or stature, is above the law. The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, and subsequent indictment of the ex-president, signifies a commitment to this principle (”Pence, Trump attorney clash over what Trump told his VP ahead of Jan. 6, 2021,” Aug. 7).

And his fellow Republicans have supported it.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s remarks during the U.S. Senate’s impeachment hearing of Donald Trump in 2021 highlighted the importance of such legal accountability. McConnell, a Republican, stated that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, acknowledging Trump’s role in inciting the violence that rocked the consciousness of the country that day.

Importantly, McConnell also relied, in part, on the legal system’s ability to hold a president accountable to justify Republican votes against impeaching Trump in 2021. Senator McConnell said: “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.” He added that “the leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.”


Republicans cannot now reasonably criticize the Department of Justice and various state attorneys general for indicting Trump when Republicans held out that legal process as a reason not to impeach him for his actions to instigate the Jan. 6 violence.

As McConnell said, “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run, still liable for everything he did while in office; [he] didn’t get away with anything yet.”

And according to the evidence, he never should.

— Doug Canter, Bethesda

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