President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that his administration is the “most transparent in history,” and that it has “cooperated totally” with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, or words to that effect. But the truth is quite the opposite. No prior administration has pushed the envelope of the law to deflect outside scrutiny to the same degree as this one. In a recent letter from the White House to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the president, in effect, rejected the entire notion of congressional oversight as illegitimately political: “Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice.”
By contrast, prior presidents understood that respect for the rule of law means, in the end, complying with the law, no matter what the cost. That was true even of those under investigation, such as President Bill Clinton. And I should know—I was a member of the team led by Independent Counsel Ken Starr that investigated him.
Clinton was far from a willing participant in his own investigation. He resisted in multiple ways. But he was constrained by an appreciation for the rule of law, even as he was trying to evade its consequences. [Continue reading…]