Monday, June 5, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lashed out at his own Justice Department for following his orders.

It was a busy Twitter day for Trump, but he found time to offer the Justice Department the benefit of his legal acumen. In consecutive tweets, he wrote: "The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C. The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!"

By "watered down, politically correct version" Trump presumably means the March 6 executive order he signed, which superseded his January 27 order. The second order was a carefully reworded version of the first with minor changes meant to address flaws that federal courts had found in the first. Both orders were immediately suspended by courts, and the DOJ has already asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of the second order. But the DOJ can only "seek [a] much tougher version" from Trump himself.

In other words, Trump is upset that Attorney General Jefferson Sessions is asking the Supreme Court's to uphold an executive order that Trump himself signed precisely because it was more likely to survive judicial review. 

Why is this a problem?

  • It makes no sense whatsoever for a president to publicly criticize his own appointees for defending orders the president himself signed.
  • It's hard to interpret angry, defiant, and self-defeating outbursts like this as some kind of rational policy statement.