Sorry, Mr. Trump, the Attorney General Is America’s Lawyer

Sorry, Mr. Trump, the Attorney General Is America’s Lawyer

- in House of Representatives

With his latest attack on Jeff Sessions, the president shows his real problem isn’t with the Justice Department but with the rule of law.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

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President Trump’s latest outburst against Jeff Sessions has laid bare his contempt for the rule of law.CreditCreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

By now, few might lift an eyebrow at President Trump’s crusade to delegitimize his own Justice Department and, specifically, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. It long ago became clear that Mr. Trump regards federal law enforcement — as he sees all of government — as a political tool to advance the interests of himself and of his party (assuming those interests align, of course; if not, the party is on its own).

Yet even by that debased standard, Mr. Trump’s latest Twitter tantrum against Mr. Sessions, on Monday, set a new low, providing a kind of anti-civics lesson for the nation he’s supposed to lead.

“Two long-running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” he wrote. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff.”

With this latest outburst, the president has again laid bare his contempt for the rule of law. Mr. Trump does not even pretend to care about the allegations of corruption against the two lawmakers in question. His concern is only that they are “very popular” members who would have scored “easy wins” in November, if only Mr. Sessions had kept his fat mouth shut until after the midterms — or better yet, buried the allegations permanently.

Chris Collins, Republican of New York, who was indicted last month on insider trading charges, is facing multiple counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and lying to federal agents. Investigators were aided in their efforts by the fact that the representative’s alleged misbehavior was caught on video while he was attending the White House congressional picnic last summer.

Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, indicted just a couple of weeks after Mr. Collins, is accused of misappropriating $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use. He and his wife, also named in the 47-page indictment, allegedly dipped into the political kitty to buy items ranging from running shoes to family vacations to plane tickets for their pet.

Both lawmakers have pleaded not guilty. Mr. Collins has suspended his campaign, while Mr. Hunter’s name will remain on the ballot and he has a strong chance to win re-election against an inexperienced Democratic challenger.

These indictments carry a personal resonance for the president. Mr. Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Mr. Hunter was the second. For a president for whom blind loyalty matters above all, the possibility of losing two such devoted followers must be especially vexing.

The heart of the matter for Mr. Trump is, as always, what’s in it for Mr. Trump. Keeping Congress under Republican control is key to the president’s fortunes, both political and legal. As Mr. Trump sees it, Mr. Sessions has once more put everything at risk with his traitorous insistence upon upholding the law.

Indeed, Mr. Trump continues to make clear that if only he had known then what he knows now — especially as regards the Russia investigation — Mr. Sessions would never have been offered the job.

Mr. Trump’s beef is not with Jeff Sessions or the Justice Department. He has a problem with the law — or at least with the idea that it should apply to him and those who do his bidding. Republicans, especially Republican lawmakers, are by their silence complicit in this perversion of justice.

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