Negligent Public Officials

An MSN article on Trump’s former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, reported that Kelly expressed regret over having quit his job.

Kelly’s reason for regret? That he predicted Trump’s impeachment ahead of time. That is, he tried to communicate to Trump that he had to select a replacement chief of staff who was not “a yes-man”, and that if Trump did not do that, Kelly told Trump that he would be impeached.

The report doesn’t really do anything much with that information. But it seems that here we have a highly-placed official who off-handedly tells us now that he *expected* that Current Occupant Trump would commit offenses worthy of impeachment absent staff to curb his obvious bad intentions and utter ignorance of the limits of his office.

This brings up a topic that I think deserves more consideration. In the US Military Code of Justice, there is a statute on ‘dereliction of duty’, which makes an offense of failing to perform essential, required, or obvious duties of one’s position. There is nothing directly equivalent for civilians, but there are any number of statutes that would engage determinations of negligence, and also the obscurely titled statutes on “misprision of felony”. Negligence is pretty straightforward: someone fails to act when they should have acted, causing harm to others. “Misprision of felony” is more nuanced, but the gist is that one has a duty to report either planned or actual crimes that one becomes aware of (if the crimes are of sufficient severity).

John Kelly is merely the latest of White House administration officials who have opined after leaving office that Current Occupant Trump is unfit for the office, even if they would not agree with that succinct characterization of what they report. The question that should be brought up now for former officials is whether they were negligent in not initiating Article 25 removal of an unfit president, or in the case of current officials, whether they have considered the consequences of negligence in their duty to do so, or to stay clear of misprision of felony charges. Certainly everyone who acted to thwart the Current Occupant’s directives that would have resulted in illegal or impeachable offenses has no defense that they were unaware of unfitness. And we know that happened over and over according to the Mueller report.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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