In a nationally televised address yesterday, Obama said he would meet BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg today and 'I will inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent, third party.'
In other words, it is his intention to force BP into bankruptcy and to seize control of the liquidation of its assets. No possibility of politically-driven corruption there, of course.
Now, unlike Obama, I did not go to Harvard Law School; but it appears to me that he has so thoroughly prejudiced the case against BP that there is no longer any possibility of a fair trial. How can he assert that the accident was a product of 'recklessness' unless, being God's annointed, he can dismiss the possibility that it was an act of God? His divinely granted wisdom also permitting him to establish, in advance, the amount of the company's liability.
My understanding is that he has no legal power to do any of this - although his supporters in Congress will presumably have to grant it to him retrospectively or else destroy his authority. Even then, I cannot see how they can redeem his having made himself so publicly and irrevocably parti pris to the matter. Offhand, assuming the courts act in accordance with the law, I suspect that all he has done is create the greatest ever bonanza for the US trial lawyers, who just happen to be the largest contributors to his party's electoral coffers after the (mainly) state employee unions.
It will be intriguing to see if the idea of the divine right of kings is to be revived by the 'progressives' in a country that was formed in rebellion against monarchy; and if the separation of powers will survive this astonishing attempt by the executive, presumably soon to be backed by a partisan majority of the legislature, to preempt the judiciary.