Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about why Jeff Sessions isn't handling the Russia investigation for him.

In the midst of still yet another tirade against his attorney general, Trump today claimed that Jefferson Sessions hadn't needed to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Sessions' recusal indirectly led Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller as a special counsel, and his investigation has led to criminal convictions of the top two members of Trump's campaign and three other Trump associates so far.

Trump alleged that Sessions "didn’t have to recuse himself. Actually, the FBI reported shortly thereafter any reason for him to recuse himself."

In reality, Sessions was not only a member of the campaign under investigation, but was and may still be a likely target of the probe itself. He took secret meetings with the Russian ambassador and then tried to cover them up when asked about them at his confirmation hearing in early 2017--narrowly escaping prosecution for perjury himself. He appears to have been active in the effort to coordinate campaign activities with the Russian government. At the very least, he is a witness to any potential criminal conspiracy involving Trump and other senior campaign officials.

Prosecutors cannot legally participate in investigations where they know they are either a likely target or a witness, as DOJ staff immediately made clear to the newly-appointed Sessions.

Trump's anger stems from his persistent unwillingness to accept (or perhaps understand) that the attorney general is not his personal "fixer" or criminal defense lawyer

Why should I care about this?

  • The president is not above the law.
  • It's extremely bad if he thinks he is anyway.