Just to make it clear, the President of the United States “did in fact commit a felony”:http://cryptome.org/small-call.htm by ordering surveillance of US citizens without court authorization.
bq. There are minor exceptions in the law, but they clearly do not apply in this case. They cover only the 15 days after a declaration of war by congress, a period of 72 hours prior to seeking court authorization (which was never sought), and similar exceptions that clearly are not germane.
bq. There is no room for doubt or question about whether the President has the prerogative to order surveillance without asking the FISC — even if the FISC is a toothless organization that never turns down requests, it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years imprisonment, to conduct electronic surveillance against US citizens without court authorization.
bq. The FISC may be worthless at defending civil liberties, but in its arrogant disregard for even the fig leaf of the FISC, the administration has actually crossed the line into a crystal clear felony. The government could have legally conducted such wiretaps at any time, but the President chose not to do it legally.
If this goes without prosecution (or at least an investigation), it will be a clear signal that the rule of law no longer applies to the U.S. government. The fact that this is seen as just another “rule bending” by the President shows how far we’ve gone down that road already.