AT his confirmation hearings last week, Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush's nominee for attorney general, was asked whether the president is required to obey federal statutes. Judge Mukasey replied, "That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country."
I practiced before Judge Mukasey when I was an assistant United States attorney, and I saw his fairness, conscientiousness and legal acumen. But before voting to confirm him as the nation's chief law enforcement officer, the Senate should demand that he retract this statement. It is a dangerous confusion and distortion of the single most fundamental principle of the Constitution -- that everyone, including the president, is subject to the rule of law.