BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS JR.

President Trump is trying to break apart a very important and necessary purpose of government, which is to provide objective oversight to other parts of the government, otherwise known as the system of checks and balances. Trump is doing this in order to bend the rules in his favor or worse to absolve himself of potentially criminal actions. It is wrong and if it continues unabated, it sets a terrible precedent for local and state governments.

In November 2016, as President Trump was putting together his administration, he nominated Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for the position of Attorney General. The role made Sessions the chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer of the United States Government.

I said from the very beginning that Sessions was a poor choice for many reasons but mainly because of his racist and misguided views. In the past, Sessions has said civil rights groups like the NAACP are inspired by communism and un-American. He also said the Ku Klux Klan was fine by him until he found out they smoked pot. This is not the type of man most Americans would want wielding such power in our country.

However, despite all of the controversy, Sessions got the job. He was confirmed on February 8, 2017, with a 52–47 vote in the Senate, and was sworn in on February 9, 2017.

Earlier this month, Sessions was fired by Trump, or was asked to resign, however you prefer to view it, but it all amounts to the fact that Sessions is out and Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, is in, at least temporarily.

Whitaker is to become acting Attorney General until Trump picks a permanent replacement, which he has said he will do at a later date. Fortunately, the senate must still confirm that person, so Americans do have a voice through their lawmakers regarding that selection.

In the meantime, one of the big factors of putting a true Trump loyalist like Whitaker into the AG seat is that it could derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the President or any of his staffers colluded with the Russians to swing the 2016 presidential election in his favor.  

According to the Justice Department, Whitaker’s new position will give him oversight over Mueller and his office, of whom he is a harsh critic. Whittaker has previously said that Mueller would be taking things too far if he, for example, examined the Trump’s family finances, adding that “This would raise serious concerns that the special counsel’s investigation was a mere witch hunt.”

Many lawmakers have already expressed concerned about the possible interference with the Mueller investigation. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said it could cause a “constitutional crisis” and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia stated, “No one is above the law and any effort to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation would be a gross abuse of power by the president.”

I have to say, I agree with both Schumer and Warner. If President Trump has nothing to hide than Mueller’s investigation should not be a threat to him. I certainly hope that the permanent AG replacement is someone who is fair and impartial. We as Americans need to make our voices heard when it comes to confirming a new AG by reaching out to our elected representatives in government and informing them of our opinions. Yes, this is a national issue because it impacts the whole country, but we here in Southeast Queens can have a say as well.

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