“It is a central fallacy ... to think that a supremely political object can be accomplished without politics.” So sayeth former Solicitor General and present stalwart of the Harvard Law School Charles Fried during the oral argument in Morrison v. Olsen. Fried’s words come close to the end of Andrew Coan’s fine and brave new book, “Prosecuting the President.” Fried’s words encapsulate Coan’s book, but also hint at a puzzle that sits uncomfortably with the reader when she puts the work down.
That discomforting bitterness might be the aftertaste of a book about the special counsel and the independent counsel is hardly Coan’s fault. Discomfort is carried on the wind and the Twitter feed these days, the therapists report, by the diffuse and unpredictable miasma of the Trump presidency. It is a symptom of our “motiveless malignancy”—Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s phrase—that one predicts its course or consequences at one’s peril.
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