According to our guest historian James Banner, “The first instance of executive branch malfeasance occurred in 1792, during Washington’s first term in office.”  So since instituting a new government designed to be of, by, and for all the citizens, it was natural that gradually, steps be taken to prevent political corruption.  But that effort has been slow and uneven.  Today as we face the senate impeachment trial of President Trump, a look into history can be instructive, and even offer hope for justice. Banner was one of the authors in 1974 of the report to the Impeachment Inquiry of the House Committee on the Judiciary occasioned by the illegal acts of President Nixon, and he has recently managed a revised version of that original report, titled Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today (New York: The New Press, 2019).  Most other presidents, he says did not personally participate in crimes, but were merely incompetent. Nixon was the first to personally orchestrate misconduct from the White House. What’s remarkable about Trump is that he has combined Nixon’s subversion of existing law with Reagan’s creation and control of a shadow government acting outside legal channels. Banner sees this as “very grave.” Most of our presidents have not been corrupt and even if Trump is acquitted in the senate, it’s not necessarily all over. We are anything but powerless.

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Q: What is The "Deep State?" A: The Opposite of What Trump Says It Is.