Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy (bit.ly/2kP6FkZ). Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Sep. 17, 2019 3 min read

I'm glad the Lewandowski hearing went as it did.

In a nation without rule of law, witnesses testify under oath with no fear they'll be charged with perjury or be held in contempt. So they act disrespectfully and they *lie*.

This is where America is—and America needed to see it.

1/ Trump falsely claimed executive privilege for someone (Corey Lewandowski) who never worked in the White House, and did so with the intent to block testimony about his 10 criminal acts of Obstruction of Justice, thus committing another impeachable act of Obstruction of Justice.

2/ Trump then sent his lawyers to sit behind Lewandowski at the hearing—but if you believe this was to intimidate Lewandowski, you're wrong, as Trump, having dangled an endorsement for Lewandowski's Senate run, has already offered an illegal (impeachable) inducement for perjury.

3/ Lewandowski then went on to commit contempt—refusing to answers questions asked to him and filibustering by talking over questioners. Throughout, he was egged on by GOP House members—who've gleefully drafted a new definition for Obstruction they'd never apply to a *black man*.

4/ The definition of Obstruction now in use by the GOP has never been used in the history of our criminal justice system. Nor do Republicans believe in it; the moment any black, brown, or poor person tries to argue Obstruction means what the GOP says, they'll lose and go to jail.

5/ I've said before and say again that the GOP no longer stands for rule of law, free/fair elections, democracy or due process. But in fact it's worse than this—at the national level, the Republican Party has become an enemy of all of these things. Democrats must act accordingly.

6/ Impeach this criminal president. Ignore his rhetoric and that of his cronies. Do the right thing no matter the cost. Hold witnesses in contempt who are in contempt—seek to jail them if they violate court orders. Refer witnesses who commit perjury for federal prosecution. Also:

7/ Make clear to witnesses who commit perjury before Congress that they will be *aggressively prosecuted for perjury* the moment rule of law is restored in the United States, which will happen only with the departure of Donald Trump from the White House and William Barr from DOJ.

8/ The games must end today. No more witnesses acting like Corey Lewandowski; Lewandowski should have been taken to court for contempt 10 seconds into his testimony. No more setting policy or strategy based on a fear of what Trump or the Republicans will do. *Do the right thing*.

9/ Trump has some supporters who aren't racist, and many millions who are. If you're a racist Trump supporter thrilled by how Lewandowski testified today, I want you to picture every trial in which a black or brown person is the defendant being conducted as this sort of *circus*.

10/ I know millions of Trump's poor white supporters desperately want a billionaire president to get special treatment in court and under law—treatment poor whites never get—but it doesn't work that way: if the GOP destroys rule of law, it's destroyed. It doesn't suddenly return.

UPSHOT/ All Americans should watch the public destruction of U.S. rule of law. Listen to attorneys from across the political spectrum telling you that this is not how testimony works, this is not what Obstruction means, this is not how we conduct public discourse in America. /end

PS/ Media has an obligation now to uphold norms while rule of law is inactive: media must identify Obstruction when it occurs; identify contempt when it occurs; identify impeachable offenses as they've always been identified; not criticize Democrats for fighting for rule of law.


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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