James M. Banner Jr.; Op Ed: From Nixon to Trump, the historical arc of presidential misconduct is deeply troubling

Today, the Trump White House has allegedly engaged in what looks like a breathtaking combination of both Oval Office complicity and shadow government operations. These two kinds of illicit executive action seem to have been brought together to drive U.S. relations with other foreign powers. This sort of criminal behavior has never before so permeated a presidency or so deeply threatened American governance.

Such corruption was made easy by the absence of laws that effectively prevented and punished it. Well into the late 19th century, money could buy public office. Kickbacks for federal appointments were commonplace. As they remain today, public offices were made available as a reward for political support and campaign contributions even if appointees were incompetent or ignorant of the requirements of their offices.

Yet even these criminal misdeeds have been surpassed today in two respects. First, plotting to skirt public policy and engage in foreign policy outside official State Department and intelligence channels has now involved private individuals as well as plotters within the White House. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, acting as Trump’s amateur foreign policy representative without congressional confirmation, is their embodiment.

All Americans ought to be deeply fearful about what this portends for the future. If those responsible for illegal and corrupt acts don’t pay the price for their flagrant disregard of our laws and the U.S. Constitution — and if new laws and institutions are not created to prevent their happening again — the nation’s future is not bright.

Navy Vet

Article URL : https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/nixon-trump-historical-arc-presidential-misconduct-deeply-troubling-ncna1079081