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Editorial sells short role of free press

By Andrew Leheny

I have serious concerns regarding the Mirror’s Dec. 22 editorial “Impeachment doesn’t deter Trump support.”

Our Founding Fathers demonstrated clearly the importance of a free press to our nation. Their incorporation of a free press within the First Amendment of the Constitution signifies its value to our Founders.

As I read the editorial, I reluctantly had to wonder if the editorial board perceived its duty to its readership as directly tied to our Founders’ expectations of a free press. The focus of the editorial is that despite the impeachment of Donald Trump, his support in our area remains strong.

Such a focus is far removed from the expectation of the Founding Fathers that a free press would attempt to provide truth and accuracy to its readership. The editorial seeks to provide a balanced “both sides” approach. But if your motivation is to seek truth and accuracy, shouldn’t the focus be on the facts?

The editorial does not reference that Trump refused to honor legal subpoenas and directed his Cabinet and aides not to comply with subpoenas or testify. Now Sen. Mitch McConnell states he will not call witnesses to the Senate trial who have already refused to testify to the House.

It is Trump who seeks to avoid complying with a century-old law, which states he “shall” provide his taxes to Congress; in this case to determine he is not unduly influenced by a foreign nation. It was a Trump attorney who recently argued in court that as president he cannot, if he literally shoots someone on Fifth Avenue, be prosecuted or even investigated until after leaving office.

There even are far more constitutional concerns about Trump. He is granting security clearances to family members unable to obtain them legally. He has taken away clearances from critics. He refuses to believe assessments of our intelligence agencies, but accepts the views of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

He has violated the Presidential Records Act and hidden records of his private meetings with Putin. Act by act, Trump seeks to evolve the office of POTUS from that of our nation’s chief citizen to one of an elected king, above the laws of our nation.

The attacks on our constitution would not be possible without the complicity of the GOP Senate. In its balanced approach, the Mirror neglects the reality of a Republican Party selecting William Barr as Attorney General despite a clear conflict of interest of his published article attacking the Mueller investigation.

Did the Mirror consider how AG Barr misled the American public for nearly a month on what the Mueller report did and did not say?

As a member of the free press, the Mirror should educate the public of the dangers of foreign interference in our election. The profit level of one’s retirement account should not be given greater consideration than a foreign danger to our nation.

In 2011, in the case Bluman v. Federal Election Commission, the circuit court ruled it “illegal for a foreign national to coordinate directly or indirectly” with a presidential campaign. The majority opinion noted our Founding Fathers were obsessed “with foreign influence in our elections derived from a fear that foreign powers and individuals had no basic investment in the well-being” of our nation.

The then-circuit court judge who wrote that opinion was Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump and the GOP, in my view, hope the American people will assume all is fine and there is no need to investigate this “Russia hoax.”

A free press must never make such assumptions. Especially with our nation’s security at risk and the president of the United States refusing to honor subpoenas.

Trump has consistently attacked the free press. Politics, and local polling, must never guide the free press away from its duty, and obligation, to the citizens of our nation.

Andrew Leheny resides in Ebensburg.

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