February 21, 2024

Rachel Maddow, in an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross concerning Maddow’s 2020 book, Bag Man, which recounted Agnew financial misdoings while in office, offered a view of how the effort to distinguish President Nixon’s liability to impeachment from Vice President Agnew’s might have turned out differently. Prosecutors, she recounted, went through an elaborate choreography to make sure that by the time Agnew got into the courtroom where he was to be sentenced, he had resigned from the vice presidency. Why did they take such pains to achieve that particular sequence? “Had he resigned as vice president moments after he pled or after he was indicted,” Maddow asserted, “we would have an entirely separate legal precedent on this case—that a president or vice president could be indicted. In this case, they sidestepped that issue by allowing him to resign.”

Mr. Attorney General, I don’t see how you can permit the Office of Legal Counsel to continue promulgating an opinion that originated as the product of temporary expediency, which many notable scholars believe has no basis in U.S. constitutional law. Yes, the opinion was reconfirmed by the Office of Legal Counsel in 2000, apparently in order to shield President Bill Clinton after he faced impeachment, making the whole matter even more confusing than it already was. And you owe it to your country to abolish this policy, because if you had launched an immediate investigation of the insurrection Donald Trump provoked on January 6, 2021, we would not now be facing the possibility of time running out for the various legal actions Trump is finally confronting before the election. Trump might become president again, free under current Justice Department rules to break any law he wants to during his second tenure in office. I don’t think you want that to be your major legacy, Mr. Attorney General.