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Richard Haas: If The President Was Above The Law, 'We Wouldn't Have Impeachment'

Rudy Giuliani's letter to the Mueller investigation has the Morning Joe crew concerned at the use of such a threatening example.
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One thing I will give credit to the Morning Joe staff is that they continue to sound the alarm about the dangers of the Trump presidency. They're nowhere near making up for helping him win, but it's a start.

This morning, they discussed the memo Rudy Giuliani sent to the Mueller investigation that was later obtained by the New York Times, claiming Trump could shoot and kill Comey, and couldn't be indicted.

"So Richard Haas, you spent your adult life studying foreign powers. Tell me, first of all, have you ever heard a president or presidential adviser suggest that a president could shoot somebody who was investigating him and not be indicted? What countries does that sound like?"

"It's inconsistent with the DNA of this country," Haas said. "The whole idea of impeachment suggests implicitly that no president is above or beyond the reach of the law. If we thought that, we wouldn't have a mechanism for removing a president for crimes."

"By the way, we wouldn't have the president on his very first moment getting sworn in, promise to uphold the laws of this country," Scarborough said. "And if anybody in the White House does not believe that every member of the Supreme Court will seize upon that oath he took to uphold the laws of this country and the Constitution, then they're kidding themselves."

"Again, there are several hundred years of constitutional history where the court has a role," Haas said. "The court and the Congress are not simply bystanders to out-of-control executive. We do have the Constitution is premised on a foundation of limits. Limits are central to the political tradition -- to essentially articulate a doctrine that transcends it is at its core inconsistent with who we are."

"It's unlimited power. The president can kill anybody he wants. The president talked about shooting people on Fifth Avenue," Scarborough said. "I mean, this is suggesting that a president could beat up a First Lady and not be indicted for that, (Ed. note: Hmm. Interesting example, Joe. Tell us more!), could sexually abuse their children and not be indicted for that. Could do the most heinous of things and never be indicted."


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"The Constitution did not imagine that the president was above the laws, which it said, but the Constitution -- it's a question the Constitution as to what the process is and whether a president can or should be indicted," Haas said.

"The best example is Nixon, named unindicted co-conspirator, and after he resigned, Ford had to pardon him because he could have been indicted for what he did," Steve Rattner said.

Michael Schmidt, the Times reporter who wrote about the memo said he found the controversial line to be "the most striking one" in the letter, especially because it mentioned a pardon."

"So that was sort of striking to us, that sort of view of executive power," Schmidt said.

"It is their view of executive power that struck us the most and that's why we went about this story the way that we did. It was just such an unusual look into how a president views his power at such an important time as he's under investigation and the striking nature of that. and as we've seen in the reaction to it, it's something that's unnerved a lot of people."

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