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Shaheen's bad idea: Censure would be a better option

EDITORIAL
July 18. 2018 10:01PM




Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is rightfully outraged at President Donald Trump’s disgraceful display in Helsinki, and worried about what promises Trump made to Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin.

“It was disgracful to watch President Trump side with Putin over the men and women of our intelligence community,” Shaheen said.

We agree. But Shaheen went on to call on Congress to hold a hearing where the American interpreter present for the Trump-Putin meeting could testify as to what was said.

This is a very bad idea.

We share Shaheen’s concern for what Trump said to Putin, given the President’s tendency to tell those who flatter him whatever they want to hear. We certainly don’t trust Trump to tell us what he said.

But forcing an interpreter to divulge discussions between an American President and foreign leader would have horrible long-term consequences. Future Presidents would not be able to trust that their confidential talks would remain confidential.

We must not let the norm-busting recklessness of Donald Trump goad us into destroying other aspects of our time-tested democratic institutions.

A better option might be for Congress to censure the President for his foolishness. But we have our doubts it would change Trump’s ways. A Congressional censure resolution would have no legal consequence, and you can’t shame the shameless.


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