In George Orwell’s classic political allegory ‘Animal Farm’ the animals who fought for their freedom wrote in their constitution “All animals are equal”, as the ruling pigs grab power this phrase loses it meaning. Orwell wrote about the Soviet dictatorship and while we do not believe that this will happen in the United States we must wonder whether or not there are those who want to modify the concept of equality as happens in the book.
On Saturday the House Intelligence Committee wrote to the #White House in reply to the accusations made by President #Donald Trump of wiretapping of Trump Tower during the presidential campaign which he alleged was ordered by Barack Obama’s Administration.
No proof was given and it became a focal point of political discussion during the following week.
Given the background of the ongoing allegations of Russian hacking of the campaign in favour of the now President, the accusation could be interpreted in a number of ways, both in support or condemnation of #Donald Trump. Thus it could not remain unchallenged by the country’s institutions.
The letter to the White House requesting the proof of the accusation or its withdrawal was signed by the House Intelligence Chair Republican David Nunes and leading Democrat of the committee Adam Schiff and gave Monday as the deadline for the reply.
The only reply was a request for more time from the Justice Department late on Monday.
The matter was kept in the public spotlight when two of the White House’s ranking staff members, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway attempted to interpret the meaning of the originals tweets that sparked the accusation. These explanations only revealed the inconsistencies of the accusation and that they themselves knew little or nothing that could provide solid proof to support it.
Yet the missed deadline also highlights another fact that will now take centre stage over the next few days.
Rights and duties
The country’s Constitution gives all citizens equal rights under the Law, but these rights are also counterbalanced by the duty of citizens to respect the Constitution of the land together with its laws and institutions.
The late reply to the request by the #House Intelligence Committee did not observe that respect. Now the question must be asked, how will the Committee react? It is to be hoped that the resident of the Oval Office will be treated as any normal citizen that does not obey the legal requirement of any recognized authority.
In fact the holder of the highest Office in the land should be held more accountable for his actions as he should set the example which other citizens should follow.
The next step
At this stage it is still too early to know what the next step will be, but the House Intelligence Committee has set in motion a procedure that must be followed to its logical and expected conclusion, no matter who the subject is. This is expected not only by citizens, but also by the Constitution that considers all citizens equal before the law
In a period where executive orders are being challenged as they deal with specific categories of people this principle should apply even more than before.
At the same time the White House should address the matter as quickly as possible, not just to satisfy its obligations, but above all to put to rest the doubts created by the accusation. In fact, it would do well to answer because the derision that the accusation has caused is even more damaging than the doubts raised.
While satire plays an important part of debate in any form, derision that leads to a loss of respect for any institution is not healthy and it is the responsibility of the institution not to attract such derision.
In Orwell’s ‘Animal farm’ the modification to their “constitution” read “But some animals are more equal than others”, let us hope nobody wants to see the country’s constitution interpreted in the same way.
That would be a road nobody wants to take.