tv Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith After Trump Virtual CSPAN September 8, 2021 3:20pm-4:23pm EDT
for search c-span "afterwards" on your podcast app. watch this and all previous "afterwards" interviews booktv.org. click the "afterwards" button near the top of the page. ♪♪ >> weakens on c-span2 are an intellectual piece. every saturday you will find event and people exploring our nations pass on american history tv. the latest in nonfiction books and authors. television for serious readers. learn, discover, explore. ♪♪ >> that evening and welcome. the co-owner of politics and prose. we have a relevant and thought-provoking program this evening featuring two accomplished attorneys with
high-level government experience. they're here to talk about your book, reconstructing residency. veteran of the republican administration, working in a democratic one, together they have a guide to the damage donald trump's presidency did to our governing institution and how to go about better protecting our system. a couple of brief housekeeping notes, if you have a question, click on the q&a icon at the bottom of the screen. in the check , you'll find a link for purchasing copies after.
the special counsel to the department of defense from 2002 -- 2003 and head of the office of legal counsel the justice department in 2003 to 2004. professor at harvard law school and cofounder of welfare and has been previous books, a first-hand account of battling the bush administration over counterterrorism policy and action. the other about the disappearance of jenny hoffa jack's relationship with his stepfather who was a prime suspect in the disappearance. bob served as white house counsel to president obama my 2010 -- 2011 and a senior advisor to joe biden's campaign. professor at nyu possible codirector there of the legislative regulatory process clinic. second book came out last fall, whether or not trump would win a second term but now that he's out of office, the book is
especially relevant to today's national discussion over how to repair the institutions trump left behind. the basic premise is the upper would require more than just a different appropriate attitude by biden and his team from his presidency, is exposed gaps and laws and norms and broader weaknesses of presidential accountable to that will require serious restructuring going against -- excuse me, i have something here -- against similar exploitation by potential future president with authoritarian tendencies. the authors report in the book as many as proposed changes to laws, regulations and norms measures.
i'm sure we are in for a lively discussion, the screen is yours. >> thank you so much. i am jack, politics and prose for having this discussion and for everyone listening. the book is called after trump, reconstructing the presidency. i'm going to talk about why we wrote this book and briefly summarize the project we've proposed in the book. september 2020, we said we didn't know if after trump would be 20212025. we now know after trump is with us so after i explained what the book is about, bob is going to talk about where the project is now. the urgency reforming the presidency now prospects and priorities and what we are doing to help achieve reform.
i want to start by talking about how we came to write this book. bob served in the obama ministration and i served in the george w. bush administration. we both served in senior executive branch where positions, bob was in the white house i was in the justice department. bob left the obama administration, teaching a class at nyu law school and counterterrorism. we started discussing our views about boys and the executive branch. we agreed initially to write a book about the white house counsel's office in the white house to advise the president on a personal basis representing the government on a gross basis with the president. there's never been a great book about but he had strong views
about it and so did i with different perspectives. never going to talk about that book and outline the book from officials about a year end a half ago. this was january 2020 and we kept coming back to the trump presidency and we kept talking about all the things trump had done to violate norms and expose accountability and we are both students of the presidential reform of the 1970s, famously after watergate and vietnam and the church permission, it regulated every aspect of the presidency after the debacle of the presidency in the early 70s. it's gone remarkably well 40 or 50 years but they seem to run the course by the time trump
came into office and so by the end of the day bob and i decided we wanted to write a weekly review plan trump left office there would be a similar conversation and need for comprehensive reform to attend to what happened in 1970s so we set out to basically write a book that would be something of a roadmap in those reforms. before i get to what we propose, i don't think this is clearly understood, the unique challenges to the presidency that donald trump posed. obviously trump was not the first president to be accused of excessive fuses of presidential power, some of his predecessors and characteristic excesses or alleged excesses such as unilateral uses of force
aggressive ways unilateral extensions of administrative power, these were not cash or my boss george w. bush did regarding laws in the name of article two power presidential power, these are not abuses. terms abuses if i had to summarize them, for the following. he basically merged the institutional presidency, the public office with his personal interest in a way that was never done by president and in a way that basically covid the landscape in every form of corruption. to give some examples, these are examples from the trump presidency, disclosing taxes, not disclosing his finances, these are all things presidents have been going back to the 70s. in an egregious way mixing his business interests and using
public office to try to promote and profit off his business interests, not separating himself from the business the way other presidents have. in ways we haven't seen since watergate to protect himself and protect others in his political friends and also try to urge the justice department to use the powerful tools to hurt his enemies. trump used his control over diplomacy and law enforcement to nudge foreign powers to win the election, john bolton spoke, the conservative john bolton saw trump up close and personal in the context both law enforcement and abusive diplomatic power, he basically said trump seemed to commit obstruction of justice as a way of life. another example is the part of
power, using this promiscuously and not in obvious ways but certainly abusively. there's never been a president, no president has come close to using pardon power to help friends to pursue a political agenda to help themselves in the way trump did. some of that in the past, trump made it into the role so these are all what i would call serious abuses of power. amazingly, they are not necessarily legal. they might have been illegal, it's not clear but most of these abuses of power for various reasons, this is the distinction we heard promote the expectations of behavior we had
but they don't have a penalty that attaches to the penalty, you can't enforce them in court, personal prosecution. these are expected behaviors of those who act like what they expected to do. these norms were mostly naturally and they grew up subconsciously. presidents have complied with conflict of interest rules in the justice department and the like. they expose these norms as basically useless in constraining the president. he was indifferent to these which are important to executive power and acts in accordance with the law. it's pretty clear trump attempted to violate the law
many times and we can talk about instances if you want, the most extraordinary episode is where the tent episodes were counted in the murder investigation about trump trying to interfere with law enforcement in connection with the investigation of him. i'll come back to that in a moment. another one of trump's abuses, this is typical demagogues, he made it commonplace to attack the most important institutions of the american presidency. every important institutions subject to terms attack including congress, the courts, his own officials, members of his own party, judges -- sorry, i already said that, state officials, institutions within the executive branch like the fbi and cia, he sought to devalue and destroy all of these institutions.
so what do you do about a president like this? this is premised on the idea we may have another trump and we may have a much more clever trump, one of the most important things to understand is that in many instances, thankfully it was executive power. he was a very good, those episodes i mentioned about trump trying to get someone to stop the investigation to find him, the president of the united states who have the power to accomplish that, he couldn't get anyone to do it. he wasn't good at the executive power to achieve it. these week norms and gaps when we have another president is a populist demagogue and could be republican/or could be a
left-wing demagogue but you will have a more complicated president who can take an even greater advantage of these weaknesses. basically think it's now we will talk more about that. let me just say assumptions proposing a set of reforms we do for fixing the presidency so to speak. our project is not to significantly reduce presidential power. we don't think it needs to be executive branch needs to be significantly trumpeted for the conversation to be had about that, it's not our project, modify the operation of the constitution and the economy and national security that we have a
powerful residency but the presidency needs -- the public needs congress the president worked the law and acting in public interest so the president needs to be constrained and accountable to the people not as our project. there are lots of reforms that end up in the past ended up making things better promote the famous example of this is independent counsel statute after monarchy reading an independent counsel to examine allegations of executive branch. after the experience of this, there was bipartisan consensus if you've gone too far it's made it worse, not better happens a lot from reforms can be organized and abused in proposing reforms that we do.
we acted by what we call the golden rule and we don't agree on everything especially about political matters but we try to use it as a strength meaning if we can agree on things maybe there's a way to achieve a broader consensus about these things and everything in the book except for one thing promote the idea was any constraint we were proposing for president, it would be exceptional to us if our preferred presidency were in office any discussion we were giving is one be comfortable being exercised by president someone we didn't. reporter: didn't want in office. i am not claiming clinical detachment and objectivity but we try to set back as much as we
could from the project addressing these issues. the final thing i'll say is who were attentive to the lessons in history which is important for many reasons, every chapter of the book, i think there 13 reform chapters, every chapter of the book sketches the history of particular presidential power or discretion and it talks about how the powers have worked for prior president. for a lot of these, not all of them but most of them but a lot of them have pre-histories of other presidents doing something similar with our was important to the prior reforms and presidential actions in each chapter to put trump context and learn prior presidential actions and prior attempts to reform so as not to commit mistakes.
i'm just going to briefly summarize reforms of the book without getting into any detail. the book has three parts. part one focuses on how to achieve better protections against abuses of presidential power for personal and political gain. most of these reforms need to be implemented by congress and most are basically governed by norms in the past, conflicts of interest, limits on the pardon power and successfully by norms in the past and we think trump shows fair and adequate and we need real enforceable hard legal constraints to short the president to counter the state intervention in presidential campaigns, the mueller report revealed gaps in the way that foreign influence in u.s. electors are regulated, thinks
gaps need to be closed by statute. we think the norms that worked pretty well for venting conflict of interest need to be made into strict enforceable laws, the president needs to be separated by law and pay permit penalty from his businesses, there needs to be part of the businesses need to be completely open. all of this needs to be legal machinery behind it. tax disclosure requirement which worked well as a matter of norms is to be made honor of law. in this chapter, we think it's hard to reform pardon power because the pardon power is one of the core powers of the president in article two. we believe there are ways congress can put guardrails on extreme abuses of presidential power especially pardon for a
bribe or use of pardon to obstruct justice. we think the law can and should be clarified if the president does himself commit a crime if he does these things and put confidence that these are constitutional ways to do. we also propose congress make clear presidential self pardon which trump threatened but didn't follow through on his not constitutional, congress won't have a final word on that but it can certainly have a say in what the supreme court final deal is on the if it ever comes up. part two of the book focuses on propagated delicate relationship between the white house and justice department when it comes to law enforcement and rule of law in this country. this is a tough issue and the reason it's -- there's no single reform that depicts this and we have lots of proposals, one of the problems in this area's for congress to regulate, this is a
core presidential power, law enforcement and supervision of the justice department is at the core of the present executive power. this is why so many elements in watergate managing this relationship has been done by statutory reform. bob and i have a series of reforms to basically a lot of us came up with norms that were clear and when they went there, they were disregarded or circumvented. a lot of instances the norms were just missing and a lot of them the norms didn't have this mechanisms. there are a lot of people skeptical that reforms can be done to the justice department binding on future president left in these norms and that certainly is a legitimate concern norms worked even in the
trump presidency, a lot of things donald trump wanted his justice department to do and they didn't do. they worked remarkably well we think there are a lot of steps that can be taken to the special counsel regulations to make clear politicized prosecutions are not allowed throughout all d.o.j. guidance to help fbi investigations and presidential campaigns should be conducted to thinking the relationship between norms in the white house and the justice department taking some power away from the white house where politics are even higher on the list and they are in the justice department. most of these reforms are internal to the executive branch, some needs to be congressional support. it's vitally important congress enact and make clear the president can in certain circumstances permit obstruction
of justice. this is not clear and needs to be clear for a variety of reasons. part three is about traditional separation of powers between the president. we could have written a book but we focus primarily on the war on terrorism and resolution of the 70s and how that can be reformed to curb some of the most extreme abuses of presidential power and we have reforms of some constraints on the president quite extraordinary nuclear weapons and we have suggestions, advocated suggestions about reform, the president's ability to basically position in government they are exposed by
senate confirmed presence and he circumvented the rules in his predecessors, it's a process that's not good for the functioning of government. we think the senate has to, congress has to meet the president half-light by reducing the number of deployments but we have reforms for that. this is a more traditional long-term separation of powers problem. we talk about emergency powers and how they need to be fixed and ways to buck up, give congress no power and enforcing subpoenas. the whole off, i didn't go into any of it. it's a high level view of the book now i'll turn it over to bob to talk about where we are now. >> thank you. concern about his conduct and as
jack said, we tried to put what he did historical context and how his predecessors in certain respects and other certain respects are laid before him. as i mentioned, the concern was very intense and significant questions while beyond completion of the book and issues that arose jack and i did not have an opportunity to write about but what if we were to turn around and write about and that would include what we learned about what happened under our system if the president refuses enduring what he can to obstruct transition of power. there are issues that ever come
back to having to do with the ongoing effort he made for the results of the questions, the election if she got continuing the events of january 6 and beyond. the question is, the concern is where we stand? i want to make a general statement that i think jack and i subscribed to, i talk about what problem you present and how we might address it. that is that we need to capture some of the momentum toward reform different overtime in some respects is been dissipated or channeled into other efforts. it's understandable in a country that has faced a pandemic associated with the pandemic, want he left office, there would be the new administration and congress to address large
national problems and process reforms were never simple and it doesn't have political parties about the intended meaning for purposes particular approaches to reform but one way or another, it's not. in the market. after watergate, there was a effort over a number of years to absorb lessons and enact reforms that appeal to take account of those lessons in the executive branch in a number of ways. i want to go back to that and talk about the differences between attention to this reform. that i think is urgent in this time and how it is different from the experience after watergate to try to recapture that momentum before it too late, before we find dissipated altogether or as he suggests
taking office sometime in the future, or even craftier and more effective in these teams more than donald trump was. let me say something quickly about watergate, i came to town in the thick of the watergate episode, i was in law school and this took place interning on capitol hill everything was come to a head. i look back recently and it was striking that even in the period of time with the differences between the two political parties, there was an appreciation of the urgency of reforms in some respect even if there were significant parties about the details. there was a robust society response in the watergate. which is to say sectors, the law
and religious community and they joined with elected officials and members of the bar, certainly shouldn't put the bar for at the top here in talking about the episode for understanding laws and our governance and the need for reform. for example during watergate and particularly the national shock of the massacre when president nixon, a special prosecutor was unable to have followed by attorney general and deputy attorney general and they have 25 but the response where it was not only congressional political response a strong institutional society response. the president of the american
bar association and republican issuing a statement not just in his own but the bar itself saying no person was above the law. but he said no american the president is certainly not above the law. other leaders of the institutions to the associations made a difference in the lives of americans, the churches, u.s. conference of the american congregation all through the leadership issue, abolitionist to the public and extraordinary happenings with the constitutional governance it had to be addressed and letter issued by the president of the national council of churches and the secretary on the occasion of this massacre, the dismissal of special prosecutor, presenting
the nation with our moral crisis of highest magnitude and demands this. this is in a number of places where you can look at the watergate. in the country comes together slowly but surely and recognize the country had occurred it was critical so they refer program re: over a series of years in 1979, a number of areas of concern about the institutional president intake, some of these reforms tapped into a movement and there was some debate in watergate and an example would be regulation, federal election campaign act of 1974 to the core
statute passed in 1971 and it is true of course over a period of time the democrats had large majorities in congress in 95th congress from 1974 to 197079. the democrats had large majorities which didn't shift in the other direction until the congressional success of the 1980. having said that, the democratic presence in the congress, the sole reason why is for past, bipartisan that had to be done even with the details. let me give a few examples which might seem quite remarkable. the ethics in government act in the wake of watergate the provider among other things for the independent counsel experiment to the special
counsel regulations have today and personal financial disclosure requirements, anticorruption measures enacted by the vice president and members of congress, emergent 370 -- 23. passed in the senate by a margin of 74 -- five. the foreign intelligence surveillance act designed to address the question of the authority of the government and electronic surveillance on american soil of u.s. citizens born proof located in the u.s., back reform, though it wasn't without controversy, passed the senate 95 -- one and house of representatives passed 266 -- 176, there is little irritation and proposed the senate rejected all the way through
institutional annoyance there and discriminate how far to develop upon a special course. you see this remarkable margin of support and i'll mention one more with nixon's attempt to refuse congress appropriated it for the programs enacted into law of 1974, that passed the senate by 75 -- zero margin after the senate passed a measure by a margin of 802 nothing. it passed the house 101 to six. where are we today? we are nowhere near that. we have some significant stalling out of his argument of reforms that ought to be taking place coming together around this that are to be taking place. this issue so many we are dealing with have become
polarized gradually, even what happened january 6, subject to competing narratives about what happened, whether it was an insurrection or collection of people whom are curiosities who got out of control and i think we see this taking place in a number of partisan basis, everybody realizes we're having this conversation today on the day the senate is attempting to vote on a presidential, a political reform statute as hr one in the house and it does have elements of executive branch reform but it's also concerned with many other things like camping financial reforms, voting rights act reform and that is cut up complete partisan deadlock the huge amount of talk about whether or not the democrats are going to be
impelled to challenge the filibuster and attempt to take it down for limited purposes. this is what jack and i tried to do the book, we can think of ways to design reform but even if they do not have each political party is absolutely required will provide a basis for capturing some momentum in this morning reform, this is not what we address in our book, we know now a president of the united states thought to be physical capacity to disregard the electoral act in attempt to send the boat back to the states. they would simply disregard that, enacted in 1887 is desperate need of new patients
so they can't be made in the future. jack articulated this was followed and the impeachment process in trump yours and the nixon impeachment, our institutional reforms in the senate would be much more effective to consider articles of impeachment of the house more effective in the senate and in considering them. we think in core areas addressed in the book, jack has done so much of this, there are ways they can be designed that addresses some of the requirements that neither party on the government of writing reform self interest. there are priorities, some have
developed who wrote our book like transition reform for others like jack mentions like subject to obstruction of justice and statutory reform making it clear what boundaries are in political abuse we think these are reforms that can be addressed and others explain bipartisan interest in the area of war powers and steps taken to consider repealing authorization of these military first my first passed by congress to address the situation in iraq many years ago many believed it's a basis for presidential well beyond what congress never intended to issue that so the question is, are we able to do that? i think the time is now we don't allow this reform to pass by, we have a democratic president who
indicated strong institutional capacities and norms and he will support institutional reforms and has expressed that war powers reform and they are necessary to restore the department of justice having the president at the end of the day passes bill is indispensable. it's something we should not allowed to pass and it's important to say even if under the extreme, presidents from wing of his party, there are republicans who do recognize the door swings both ways entered the fundamental issue of constitutional governance, putting the presidency on the constitutionally accountable basis that's critically important and has the support of those political parties so we do think there is republican support to be had but close to the question of how the reforms are designed and that's why the
opening chapters and comments in the book and the approach we took is important to understand what we are trying to accomplish. let me close by saying we think this huge danger that one could face this problem again, fears that materialize in the trump administration could materialize again, future presidents the demagogue part of this event could attempt maybe more effectively even more than trump to test norms and legal boundaries and test constitutional boundaries in a way that trump professed he wanted to do. ...
susan notes that there's an outright assault by elected officials to attack democracy with republicans doing everything they can to stop americans who don't vote their way from voting, with minimal interference from the democrats. how can change happen? how does a huge segment of america become more hopeful again? >> i will take a quick crack at that. i'm a democrat. i probably judging from the questions share a lot of the views that the individuals asking those questions have on these voting rights questions. i was a senior advisor, and my portfolio included voting rights in 2020 to the biden campaign and spent a huge amount of time to try to protect the right to vote in 2020 and i have strong views on this topic and have held them for many years. i'm confident that even the republican colleagues of mine, with whom i have excellent working relationships wouldn't
disagree about, you know, who is responsible for the arguments in this reform debate. i'm on the side of those who think we need more protected access for voters and what we're seeing around the country is seriously problematic, morally flawed, and i have objections to them. [inaudible]. i think the project that jack and i are working on, there are paths to reform. again, that doesn't mean you set the other fights aside and you don't pursue them. they may not get you everything you're looking for in the areas where the parties are most divided, but you can find some ground of agreement. i will give you one example on voting rights and i think there are others that jack and i found writing this book together. there are pathways to some reform. if you get some of it done, if
you're able to do obstruction of justice, for example, [inaudible], you're able to curb the pardon power that's consistent with constitutional requirements and really revive the norm that was so aggressively challenged by trump and put legal boundaries around abuses. that may not be everything you are looking for in the form of democracy, but it is an important start. i will give you an example in the voting rights area. i'm working with republicans right now who [inaudible]. i'm finding republican support for that. i'm working with those republicans. i think there are paths. i just think we have to be very thoughtful about how to find those paths and then move in the direction of accomplishing something to achieve some
momentum in that direction. >> you are on mute. >> can i add something briefly to that? there are many problems and issues in our constitutional democracy where reforms might be appropriate, including of the presidency. one is electoral reform. we don't discuss that in this book. that's a huge topic on its own. another is the form of congress. you might think a lot of the problems with the too powerful non-norm compliant president is that congress has not been exercising its constitutional responsibilities. we don't have proposals for that. what we focus on are proposals that most of which -- problems most of which became clear during the trump years. we focus on fixing the back ends after you have a populist demagoguic president elected.
we haven't seen this yet, but there are reasons to think there are republicans who support some of these proposals and they have even made some of these proposals in congress. a lot of the proposals, especially the ones we prioritized are ones for which there was a bipartisan consensus for 50 years. and the hope is that if you put these reforms forward when a democrat is in office, and it's an unusual situation that you have a democrat who might be president -- who is president who might be willing to accept these constraints, that you're able to grab some of that earlier consensus among enough republicans to make this a reality. i will just acknowledge, if these reforms are packaged as anti-trump reforms, and the closer we get to the next presidential election, and the closer we get to trump maybe declaring he's going to run, it gets harder and harder. that's why reform -- it is really urgent this be done quickly, but these are issues on which there has been bipartisan consensus for decades until trump.
there's reason to think that it may be possible again on some of these issues. >> you just said that you didn't deal with electoral reform. let me toss this question out from john anyway. it seems to me in order to avoid another trump from taking office, we need to fix the process that allowed him to win the nomination of a main political party. how do we fix that problem? trump never should have made it past new hampshire. do you want to take a whack at that? >> i'm happy to take a crack. i mean, i have done a lot of work on and like everybody else suffered through the presidential nominating process in this country, to say it is flawed in many respects is an understatement. and [inaudible] -- procedures by which we choose -- i wouldn't say the parties choose them
even. the participating party primaries choose the party's nominees for president. and i'm not even sure how to get a handle on this point because there are so many aspects of it that are problematic. as you know, you know, the party's really lost control of the nominating process. they have outsourced responsibility in many respects, although that improved somewhat in the democratic party the last time around. outsourced the responsibility to the presidential debates, to the news media. they have had an opportunity, for example, in july in cleveland to try to block trump who had never been a republican and who posed a real threat, who was continuously deriding the republican party leadership, had an opportunity to put the nomination into question, take it, because the party just did not believe it had really institutionally the capacity to make that kind of decision. this is a very tough topic, and
i sympathize with the questioner's perplexity, because it is a reason why, frankly, [inaudible] like a politician like donald trump like we said before maybe someone more clever and more effective in his or her designs could make it through the nominating process again. >> mike has posted another question. how can we reform the pardon power without a constitutional amendment? >> do you want me to take that, bob? >> please. >> as i alluded to, it is hard, and you can't have -- the pardon powers are very -- the supreme court has described it in very expansive terms. most of trump's self-serving,
politically self-serving pardons, you can't reform by statute because the constitution allows the president to make politically self-serving pardons. however, we're confident after a study of executive branch [inaudible] and looking at the legal precedence that while you can't stop a president from pardoning whoever he wants, congress can criminalize that pardon, while not in any way impacting the president's ability to pardon, you can make it a crime for the president to pardon in exchange for a bribe or in exchange for part of an obstruction scheme. and even article ii hardliners like, for example, bill barr had suggested that this can be done, we explain in detail in the book why we think that's not a burden on the pardon power because it allows the pardon to go through, but it is a regulation of the the conditions -- regulation of
the consequences. it is not a slam-dunk legal argument, but we think it can work. more importantly, let me just say one more thing, it would almost certainly never be tested in court. and it's a kind of thing -- this is very important to understand -- laws like this can inform the behavior of executive branch officials even if they think it won't be enforced. this is why the trump subordinates didn't help him fire mueller. they were worried about possible obstruction of justice themselves. so a statute on the books like this can dissuade a president from committing abusive pardons and certainly ones that would be illegal under the statutory scheme, even if it's never enforced. >> another question asks whether you discuss the department of justice policy that prevents a sitting president from being indicted? do you anticipate this will be
modified? >> bob and i have a little bit of a disagreement on this. i will let bob speak for himself. i think that that opinion was probably correct. i think bob has some problems with the opinion. in the book, we assume the validity of the opinion, but it was twice affirmed by the justice department, one during maybe the ford administration in the 70s and again at the end of the clinton administration, and our proposals assume the continuing validity of that executive branch ruling. i will allow bob speak to this, but it is something that could be overturned. all it would take for the justice department to decide it is no longer part of the law. it's conceivable they will change it. i don't know what the
administration's plans are about that. bob, do you have thoughts about that? >> i don't know. i do have qualms with the two opinions. they were boast issued in the administrations -- they were both issued in the administrations of presidents who were facing criminal investigation and impeachment. that doesn't suggest in and of itself that they were wrong, but i am concerned about the way those opinions were constructed, and i think that we now have a problem that jack and i discuss in the book, with a slight difference of opinion on how to address the problem, that on the one hand, people assume if the president is in office, that he or she cannot be prosecuted, can be investigated but not prosecuted. indictments can't be brought. but when they leave office, there's a general sense, sort of the aftermath of the ford nixon pardon, that it's divisive for
one administration to prosecute the former president of another administration, it's such a dangerous road to travel there, the better part of reason is just not to do it. as jack pointed out in the book, and he can speak to this himself of course, he's not arguing that conduct prior to becoming the president is somehow immune from prosecution, not arguing that any pending prosecutions ought to be suspended, the concern that i think we debate in the book is a concern that some have with an administration looking at a prior administration and making a concerted effort to determine whether laws were broken and potentially on that basis prosecuting a former president. it will create diversions, that in some cases may be particularly divisive and dangerous for example if the prosecution isn't successful and the former president is quote unquote vindicated.
i think we need to start thinking, what did he mean in 1974 when it was said no president is above the law? we have to make that mean something. >> you do come from different political backgrounds. how much did you disagree in writing this book? and to the extent that you did, were the differences more over, say, the analysis of the problem and identifying what is a problem or what isn't? or did the differences tend to be over the solutions? >> i've written five or six books. i've had several co authors. this was such a joy to write this book with bob. it was a learning process for both of us. we didn't know each other that well when we started to write it. we didn't have a full sense of each other's views, and we both
went into the spirit of complete open mindedness to the other's arguments. we went back and forth on a whole bunch of issues. i think it is fair to say we were both open to the other's arguments. we ended up agreeing on almost 99% of the things, everything really. and firmly, really agreeing with each other on the right way forward. the one disagreement we had was the one bob mentioning, not the availability of whether an administration should prosecute a prior president for his acts committed in office, but as bob said, i take a much darker view about whether that would be a good thing for the country if the current justice department investigated the acts and office of the prior president to see if the prior president committed crimes while in office and then prosecute that president. that's an issue in which we had
a degree of emphasis, but that was it. on everything else, we were able to reach consensus, i believe, bob, is that right? >> that's true. i just want to reciprocate and say i haven't had an experience as rewarding that i can remember than i had writing this book with jack, and i think both of us did come to it with an open mind, and we spent long days when we were able to get together and long sort of stretches on the phone and by e-mail just talking issues through, both again with an openness to the arguments on the other side. and i think at the end of the day, i never looked back and thought that any of the compromises or agreements that we reached on particular issues represented some sort of surrender of any basic principle or position just to reach agreement. we actually found ourselves in agreement, each of us, the
position that we wrote in the book was the correct position. it was very rewarding in that respect. >> i will say one more thing very briefly, the one thing we did disagree on, one of our friends who read the book said you shouldn't -- you know, we had fleshed out that disagreement in a chapter in the book. here's the argument. here's the counterargument. somebody suggested, someone we admire suggested take that out. we believed it was important to keep that in in the spirit where we approached that issue. there are four or five pages in there where bob and i are respectfully disagreeing with one another. >> we have time for one more question from the audience. we've got one from sandra who asks about [inaudible] power. what proposals for reform do you make for the subpoenas -- subpoenas actually being honored? >> bob, do you want to take that, or do you want me to do is
it? >> -- or do you want me to do it? >> go for it. >> we would pick up on a proposal, and we would have some proposed modifications. the basic idea is that the way the subpoena power works -- let me back up and say the legal issues surrounding the congress's ability to subpoena information from the executive branch, these are not settled issues. they are not clear in the law. you know, trump's resistance to subpoena is not unlike prior president's resistance to subpoenas. the separation of powers clash between the branches. trump may have been more aggressive on some dimensions. the president has huge advantage institutionally to congress because the president can resist the subpoena, litigate it for years and basically run out the clock which is more or less what trump did. and so our proposal and it is not unique to us is that there would be a law that fast tracks judicial considerations of these
separation of powers disputes that doesn't let years go by for it to go to the supreme court to resolve these issues. it tries to resolve it in a very short period of time, months not years, so at least the president won't have the advantage of not turning over the information. now, there's a danger to this, and think i we mentioned it in the book -- and i think we mentioned it in the book, it is not clear that the congress will prevail in a lot of these issues. the executive branch might prevail. speeding up the clock might lead to a quicker resolution that leads to outcomes congress doesn't like, but we still think it is important to kind of take this running of the clock power out of the president so you try to diminish that. that's what we proposed with a few bells and whistles. >> this brings us to the end. so much to do, jack and bob, not only have you -- you've done a real service describing the damage done by trump and how to
fix it, but your teamwork in writing the book has set a very useful example in bipartisanship, and it remains all too rare in our national politics these days. it is really encouraging to hear that the two of you will be working on a follow-on project together. >> thank you very much for having us. it's been a pleasure. >> thank you very much. >> to everyone watching, thanks for tuning in. a reminder that you can find a link in the chat column for purchasing copies of "after trump". from all of us here at politics and prose, stay well and well read. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. weekends on c-span 2 have an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's story, and on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span 2 comes from
these television companies and more, including charter communications. >> broad band is a force for empowerment. that's why charter has invested billions, building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities and big small. -- in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications along with these television companies supports c-span 2 as a public service. >> today we will be talking with professor carol anderson who is the charles howard chandler professor and chair of african american studies at emery university and also the author of many many wonderful books. i'm sure many of you have read "white rage" which won the national book critics circle award, "one person --" [inaudible] a book that should be talked about with all the voter suppression and the statewide initiatives