Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Ian Bassin and Justin Florence: Trump’s Acts Show the Urgent Need to Curb the Imperial Presidency

In the post-Watergate era, most Americans have taken for granted that a president would not fire an F.B.I. director investigating him, or replace an attorney general for insufficient loyalty to the president’s personal interests. Dangling a pardon before potential witnesses to influence their testimony? Unheard of.

Whatever one’s feelings about the end of the Mueller investigation, the Barr letter makes one thing clear: The guardrails that were established after Watergate against these types of abuses have been smashed. We still need to see the full Mueller report, but unless corrective steps are taken, Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr will have changed, perhaps profoundly, the shape of presidential power, and in troubling ways.

It’s therefore up to Congress and the 2020 presidential candidates to step in and harden the policies that for 40 years prevented improper political interference in law enforcement.

They can do this by enacting comprehensive legislation to codify rules and practices that were previously voluntary. Those who subscribe to the Barr memo view of expansive executive power might claim that such legislation would violate the Constitution. On the contrary, such legislation would help enforce it.

Michelle Cottle: Trump the Punisher

Once more, President Trump stands ready to dazzle with his willingness to sacrifice the national interest on the altar of his political whims.

For days, the president has been indulging in one of his made-for-TV teasers by threatening to shut down the United States-Mexico border. Not beef up the Border Patrol. Not tighten security at ports of entry. Just hang up a “Closed” sign and call it a day.

As the White House tells it, the failures of Mexico and congressional Democrats to stop illegal crossings have left the president no choice: The influx of drugs, criminals and other undesirables has reached the point where drastic action is required.

Mr. Trump is nothing if not a man of drastic action, or at least ominous vows of drastic action.

Dismayed critics have rushed to object that shutting the border will do nothing to solve the humanitarian strains caused by the flood of migrant families from Central America — that such a move will, in fact, make things only worse by disrupting the legal flow of people and commerce, wreaking social and economic havoc.

Jerrold L. Nadler: America Is Done Waiting for the Mueller Report

Last Sunday, Attorney General William Barr sent us a letter summarizing what he says are the “principal conclusions” of the special counsel, Robert Mueller. The next day, together with five other committee chairmen, I wrote back to the attorney general, demanding that he provide us with the full Mueller report — not a summary, but the full report and all of the relevant evidence — by April 2.

For nearly two years, the country has waited to read the report. Over those many months, President Trump has raged against the institutions that make our democracy possible — among them, the free press, the courts and his own Department of Justice. When the special counsel indicted members of the president’s inner circle, his attacks got louder.

Before the formal investigation began, Mr. Trump fired his F.B.I. director. He later fired his attorney general. He reportedly attempted to fire the special counsel himself. Despite this profoundly unacceptable behavior, the special counsel persevered and wrote his report.

We — the members of the Judiciary Committee, the House of Representatives and the entire American public — are still waiting to see that report. We will not wait much longer. We have an obligation to read the full report, and the Department of Justice has an obligation to provide it, in its entirely, without delay. If the department is unwilling to produce the full report voluntarily, then we will do everything in our power to secure it for ourselves.

Elizabeth Warren: Corporate executives must face jail time for overseeing massive scams

Opening unauthorized bank accounts. Cheating customers on mortgages and car loans. Mistreating service members. If you can dream up a financial scam, there’s a good chance that Wells Fargo ran it on its customers in recent years. Last week, after years of pressure, the company finally parted ways with its second chief executive in three years. But that’s not nearly enough accountability. It’s time to reform our laws to make sure that corporate executives face jail time for overseeing massive scams.

In 2016, after the Wells Fargo fake-accounts scam came to light, I called out then-chief executive John Stumpf for gutlessly throwing workers at the bank under the bus — and told him he should resign. Weeks later, he did. When Wells Fargo elevated longtime senior executive Tim Sloan to replace Stumpf, I told Sloan he should be fired for his role in enabling and covering up the fake-accounts scam. For years, I pressured federal regulators, urging Sloan’s dismissal, and last week Sloan “retired.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Sloan and Stumpf aren’t in charge anymore. But this isn’t real accountability. When a criminal on the street steals money from your wallet, they go to jail. When small-business owners cheat their customers, they go to jail. But when corporate executives at big companies oversee huge frauds that hurt tens of thousands of people, they often get to walk away with multimillion-dollar payouts.

Paul Waldman: Democrats constantly ‘reach out’ to the other side. Republicans don’t.

Let’s begin with a story. In 2016, Hillary Clinton was at an event in Ohio when she said, “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” You remember that, because the quote, truncated and taken out of context, was played over and over again in the media and held up by Republicans as proof that Clinton was targeting hard-working coal miners for extinction in the service of an elitist environmental agenda.

What you probably never heard is what she said before and after:

I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right? And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people.

I bring up that old story because in so many ways it’s being repeated right now. It was emblematic of both how Democrats deal with issues that touch on the environment and the economy, and how they deal with voters, communities and states that are unlikely to support them. In this time of deep polarization and identity-driven politics, there is a profound difference in how the two parties approach the “other” America.