We sink deeper into the constitutional crises, literally by the hour, now.
Destroying all Article II norms, Trump pounds through the independence of the Department of Justice to publicly call out Jeff Sessions on Twitter for not orchestrating the investigation and prosecution of the FBI agents involved in the FISA process as noted in the Nunes and Schiff Memo.
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
There is just so much damn stuff to unpack there.
First of all, the president of the United States does NOT interfere with Justice Department investigations in the normal course. The president especially does not interfere with the Justice Department investigations of political issues, ever, and that is why Karl Rove caused such tremendous controversy by putting “heat” on the U.S. Attorney offices that were not sufficiently prosecuting democrats. It is also why Director Comey said that he talked to President Obama a total of two times, ever, and that was an introduction and “good-bye,” which is how it is supposed to work. The president so obviously cannot speak to the Justice Department about investigations of HIM (which this damn well does directly relate to Trump) or we are in a banana republic. Nixon found that out and we believed the precedent had been sufficiently set.
That’s above and beyond the fact that if the president IS going to talk to the Attorney General, he can pick up the damn phone, or invite the A.G. to drive the eight blocks it is down tothe White House and have a meeting.
BREAKING: Grocery-store manager suffering from dementia keeps using P.A. system to publicly berate produce manager he himself hired, refuses to call him into back office for private conversation, & expects him to burn down competitor's store. pic.twitter.com/rRPf3QfGM0
— Jon Zal (@OfficialJonZal) February 28, 2018
It is not all that different.
Perhaps Jeff Sessions will not move in the direction the president wants because Sessions knows that the Nunes memo has been thoroughly debunked and cannot possibly lead to a “prosecution” of the type that Trump wants, it would only reveal more damaging information on obstruction. It certainly must play a role. But, perhaps Sessions also knows that someone has to maintain some sort of constitutional regularity, and will not be moved by the lunatic screaming at him from down the street. I do believe that it is playing a role. Sessions has been in D.C. long enough to be able to see past the 48-hour scandal cycle, and he knows history has its eyes on him in the moment. He might well feel somewhat freed, because the more he resists to “do the right thing,” the more he wins in the long game.
But, this is all so horribly dangerous. Recall the Republicans’ reaction to Loretta Lynch simply meeting Bill Clinton on the tarmac. Now imagine if Obama were calling out Lynch or Holder over the most highly-charged political investigation in a century, putting serious pressure on them. Can you imagine a scenario where Obama would not be impeached in weeks?
We have not even mentioned the comment about “isn’t he an Obama guy?” With that, Trump now apparently demands that only a republican can investigate and prosecute this matter in a “fair” way. Recall Trump’s need for “loyalty” in the Republicans around him? Absurd.
Republicans love to speak of American exceptionalism. Well, to the extent the U.S. is exceptional, it flowed through adherence to strict rule of law, constitutional norms, that were respected and held tight through different political administrations. It created the most wealthy, free, society in history. Those norms have never been under the threat they are now. Someone must adhere to the law, to checks and balances and the constitution. Perhaps Sessions will do the right thing. We know that listening to this “president” will only lead to further destruction of constitutional norms.
How has this man not been impeached? For any other president, this is not hyperbole, any other president would have had impeachment articles filed for having issued the statement Trump put out this morning. Under Trump, we just call it “Tuesday.”