Monday, May 7, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He shared his thoughts on the judiciary.

Trump has apparently embraced the verdict of his latest legal defense team, which now features impeachment specialist Emmet Flood, to go fully on the attack politically against the Mueller probe. The latest salvo was his tweet this morning:
(In fact, everyone "in charge" of the probe is a Republican--even Trump, who is both its target and ultimately the person with the power to end it. So is Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and every single member of the DOJ staff who might replace Rosenstein if and when Trump fires him--because Trump has appointed all these people himself. Of course, Mueller himself is also a Republican, appointed to lead the FBI by President George W. Bush. Trump's objection seems to be that any career prosecutors who had registered as Democrats were allowed on Mueller's staff.)

The tweet appears to be a reference to some pointed questions that prosecutors in the Paul Manafort trial got about jurisdictional issues last week--though so far the judge in that case hasn't ruled against Mueller's prosecutors. Otherwise, there hasn't been much good news for Trump in the courts where the Russia investigation is concerned: the "Witch Hunt" has indicted 13 Russians for their work to sabotage the election, and secured guilty pleas from five Trump associates.

While Trump is no stranger to the court system, having been sued constantly by stiffed workers, defrauded students, and ex-wives among literally thousands of others, it's unusual to hear him speak well of the judiciary. Since taking office, he's called the judicial branch a "joke" and a "laughingstock," has ranted to aides that his Supreme Court pick isn't always ruling the way Trump wanted him to, referred to a federal judge who ruled against him a "so-called judge"--and then said that any future terrorism would be that judge's fault, threatened to just end an entire federal judicial district he didn't like, and complained that judges (and not himself) get to determine criminal sentences.

So what?

  • Judges aren't good or bad depending on whether a president likes their rulings.
  • It's extremely bad if a president literally can't imagine anyone putting the rule of law over party affiliation.