The Wall Street Journal finds the perfect way to make the Russia scandal disappear

Here's some unbelievably stupid advice from two former government lawyers

By Matthew Sheffield

Published October 30, 2017 11:23AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Mark Wilson/AP/Mark Lennihan)
(Getty/Mark Wilson/AP/Mark Lennihan)

President Donald Trump has been under attack from Democrats and internal Republican critics since he assumed the office, particularly in regards to what he calls the "cloud" of the multiple investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 elections.

What better way to make all of this magically disappear than to issue a large-scale pardon of anyone and everyone who might have been involved with helping the Russians influence American politics?

Most people would think that this course of action would be incredibly stupid and sure to set off alarm bells among people of both parties. After all, nearly every single member of the House and Senate voted for increased sanctions against Russia, despite the White House's objections.

But David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, both former government attorneys in Republican administrations, think that's exactly what Trump should do, and they've got an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal making their case.

As would be expected, their essay is rife with ridiculous statements including the claim that the special counsel should not look into Trump's past and present business dealings in Russia because they are "are far removed from the Russian question."

The duo also argue that no one should be concerned with Trump's May decision to fire FBI director James Comey for not wrapping up the agency's investigation into the matter.

"That claim is frivolous, and it damages America’s constitutional fabric even to consider it," Rivkin and Casey write. "A president cannot obstruct justice through the exercise of his constitutional and discretionary authority over executive-branch officials like Mr. Comey."

Both men are old enough to be aware that this argument is exactly the one that led former president Richard Nixon to fire the special counsel who was investigating the Watergate burglary. Nixon's naive insistence that he had the sole discretion to fire investigator Archibald Cox was roundly rejected by the public. For the first time in the history of the scandal, a plurality of Americans supported impeaching Nixon. Cox's firing was held to be an illegal termination by a federal judge as well.

The essay becomes even more absurd when the duo claim that a blanket pardon would ensure that "at least those conducting the inquiry will be legitimate and politically accountable." Never mind about the people who actually might have committed crimes. Who cares about holding them accountable.

The piece also includes references to common Republican talking points that "the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence agencies might have been involved in the whole affair," presumably because the Comey at one point agreed to partially pay for the research done by British former spy Christopher Steele.

According to Trump loyalists, the fact that Comey was willing to be associated with Steele and his client Fusion GPS is proof that somehow the agency and the Russian interference investigation were compromised and that the whole thing is proof that if anyone colluded with the Russians, it was former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Curiously, however, Rivkin does not disclose that he himself has a connection to the Steele dossier. He happens to be a partner at BakerHostetler, a law firm which hired Fusion GPS to work on Russian matters.

By his logic, this means that David Rivkin is the real Russian collaborator, does it not?

Of course, in the real world, Rivkin is not part of a spy scheme. He just gives really bad legal advice.

Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via or follow him on Twitter.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

David Rivkin Donald Trump Impeachment James Comey Robert Mueller Russian Investigation