What Donald Trump Has Done to U.S. Department of Justice is Shameful

comeyThe U.S. Department of Justice is opposing counsel in about half of the cases I litigate; needless to say, I am no apologist for them.  At the same time as being frustrated by their, for example, analogizing my legal arguments to those of a terrorist, doing their best to keep evidence out of the courts, and even obtaining a special gag order just for me, I respect that they serve an important role in seeing that justice is served in our country.  Unlike the TSA, which should be disbanded rather than corrected, the DoJ should be an institution in which we continually place intelligent, loyal, and non-partisan civil servants.

Instead, Donald Trump has done the following:

  1. Appointed then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates as Acting Attorney General, and then fired her 10 days later.  The Attorney General is the highest position in the DoJ, which encompasses not only the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which we usually associate with them, but also a host of sub-agencies, including the FBI, DEA, and many others.  Why did he fire her?  According to him, it was because she refused to defend his Muslim Ban on the grounds that the Executive Order was indefensible (virtually every federal judge to hear the matter has agreed).  As the nation’s top attorney, she is obligated to uphold the law and cannot defend law that she believes is unconstitutional.  But, it’s also interesting to note that she was fired on the same day that she, correctly, informed the President that his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was compromised by Russia and Turkey.
  2. Fired Legendary U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.  If there was one high official in the DoJ who deserved respect, it was Mr. Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  His district contained Wall Street, and he was well-known for aggressively prosecuting financial crimes including the likes of Bernie Madoff.  But, he was also well-known for fighting public corruption and taking down many a politician in New York, and some speculated he “could be reviewing a range of potential improper activity emanating from Trump Tower and the Trump campaign.”  Trump never offered a reason for firing Mr. Bharara.
  3. Fired FBI Director James Comey.  Being overseas at the moment, I was shocked to wake up this morning to read that Trump has fired the head of the FBI (which, as mentioned, is a sub-agency of the Dept. of Justice).  Officially, Trump’s position was that Comey was fired for mis-handling the Clinton e-mail scandal by stating last July that she would not likely be prosecuted.  This begs the question, though: why now?  In a bizzare 1-page termination notice, Trump takes time time to note his “appreciation” that Comey has “informed” him repeatedly that he is not under investigation.  But the fact remains, of course, that the FBI is actively investigating Russian influence on the election.  It is also worthy of note that U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions officially gave Trump the recommendation to fire Comey.  Mr. Sessions, after public and Congressional outcry, had recused himself from the Russia investigation… yet now fired the person who was in charge of it.

To be perfectly blunt, it seems to me, based on this pattern of firings, to be far more plausible that Trump has fired these people for not just political reasons, but in order to prevent the exposure of anything from poor decision making (e.g., accidentally hiring a foreign agent to lead the country’s intelligence community) to lying to secretly working with foreign nations.  And, were I Donald Trump and had I nothing to hide, I would certainly at least be aware of the public perception I would be creating by firing these career administrators.

To any extent that Donald Trump has “drained the swamp,” he has either replaced it with new swamp or failed to replace it at all, leaving a hole in our nation’s ability to function.  People like Preet Bharara are not easily replaceable, and Trump should have been begging him to stay rather than asking him to leave.

What Trump has done to the DoJ is shameful.   And, it should go without saying that a special prosecutor needs to be appointed to continue any investigation that Comey was up to before he was fired, because whether or not there’s anything to uncover, the administration of justice requires impartiality beyond what Trump’s team has afforded us so far.

15 thoughts on “What Donald Trump Has Done to U.S. Department of Justice is Shameful

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  1. First, it’s been pretty well established that Trump’s temporary travel ban was not a “Muslim” ban — calling it that is just misdirection. I’ve listene to most of the legal hearings on C-SPAN and all the claims of racism and religious persecution have been roundly disproven. The left-wing assumption that the Establishment Clause applies to people applying for entry visas has been shown to be completely vacuous. Sally Yates was fired for insubordination, plain and simple. She serves at the pleasure of the President, and he was not pleased. The President owes no explanation to anyone when firing a political appointee anyway.

    Second, ALL the US Attorneys get removed by every president when they come into office. Clinton did it, the Bushes did it, and Obama did it. Preet Bhahara was no exception. And your insinuation of evil when you state that Trump “never gave an explanation” for his firing is just plain disingenuous. Bhahara is another political appointee, no different than a cabinet official. Bhahara is aiming for future political office and know that any “free advertising” he can stir up with a phony scandal will add to his name recognition. His is the lowest kind of political maneuver, and I wish he could be prosecuted for it.

    Lastly, even Dems have called for Comey’s firing. He’s an embarrassment and incompetent at his job. He clearly breached established limitation on his authority several times. Last night they played a January interview with Trump where they asked him “are you going to fire Comey?” “I don’t know. Not yet. I still have faith in him. I’m going to give him a chance.” So Comey’s firing is not only no surprise, it’s overdue. Senator Schumer’s histrionics over it are the height of hypocrisy.

    I appreciate the work you do, but I hope you don’t expect partisan political rants to go unchallenged.

    1. Let me just leave this here: calling anything posted on this blog by me a “partisan rant” is absurd. I challenged Obama on his failures just as hard as I’m challenging Trump. I don’t consider myself a member of either party, and technically, I’m a registered Republican (which I don’t change to independent such that I get a primary vote).

      The entirety of your post is simply your accepting Trump’s word for everything when all signs point the opposite way. As such, I have no reply for you other than that I look forward to the day when Trump finally does something that is so beyond the pale that you can no longer accept his explanations.

      1. “I challenged Obama on his failures just as hard as I’m challenging Trump.”

        Jon, I’m open to evidence of this, but I can’t find any. All your Obama criticisms have been strictly on civil liberties issue. In this essay you branch out into criticizing Trump’s unquestioned presidential authority to fire political appointees. Three times. And your previous criticisms of Trump have also been for non-civil liberties issues. Just like the Dems are doing. I call this a political rant because it quacks like one.

        Not that you can’t comment on anything Trump does. But I don’t think you can say you criticized Obama “just as hard.”

        1. If you haven’t found any sharp criticisms of Obama of mine, you probably haven’t used the search feature at the top and typed in “Obama.” I regularly railed the Obama administration for their NSA domestic spying program, their failure to rein in the TSA, etc. Yes, virtually all of my public criticism is civil rights related, but you don’t see the connection between destroying the DoJ and civil rights? You personally may not be worried that hiring Jeff Sessions and firing a whole bunch of decent civil servants won’t result in civil rights abuses, but I certainly am.

          1. I did do exactly that — I used the search box on this site with the keyword “Obama”. I got about two dozen hits, none criticizing Obama directly, just criticizing his administration, e.g.,DHS/DOJ, and then only on civil rights issues.

            That’s why I said “I’m open to evidence.” Perhaps I missed the posts where you criticized Obama “as hard as” you criticized Trump. Please do share those items if you know of any. Absent that, I think you’ll have to admit that your Trump criticisms are of a much stronger nature.

        2. But, I will say that Trump is doing more stupid things, more quickly than Obama ever did. Is making that observation “partisan?” I’m certainly not doing it on the basis of the R or D found next to their names.

          1. “Stupid” is in the eye of the beholder. For a conservative like myself, who puts no stock in Obamacare or the legality of laws forcing people to go against their faith to serve government interests, Trump looks very smart. I may not always like his style of tweeting, but I see few things he’s done as “stupid.” Certainly less than Obama, who won Liar of the Year with his “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” fabrication.

  2. I stand corrected on one fact: The quote I attributed to Trump was from a month ago, not from January. But it still shows that firing Comey was on people’s mind. Here’s the exact quote from April 12:

    “No, it’s not too late [to fire Comey], but, you know, I have confidence in him. We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be interesting”

    Trump told this to Fox News analyst Maria Bartiromo.

    1. I agree packetguy1. Comey should have been gone long ago. I’ve seen former Judges, well respected lawyers and others talk about how Comey got it wrong with Clinton and her personal server containing classified documents. If anyone else had done that, they would throw every legal book there is at them.

      1. > Comey should have been gone long ago.

        That’s fine, but Comey wasn’t dismissed long ago. He was dismissed this week. Right as he was investigating Russian influence in the elections. When Trump could have dismissed him months ago, but instead praised him until last week.

        1. Trump had a recommendation that he be fired. I can’t recall the guys name but he was just put into his position from what was said. Oddly, the Dems seem to like him until he did something they don’t like, which is to recommend firing Comey. So, a guy the Dems liked said Comey needs to go, Trump let him go and the Dems are up in arms. Another odd point, the Dems wanted him gone not to long ago themselves. Now that he is gone, they are crying like two year olds that just had their lollipop taken away.

          I have to say, I watched a little of his testimony recently. For someone who is in charge of the FBI, I was not impressed.

          I saw a clip of Diane Feinstein just the other day where she said herself there is no evidence of any involvement between Trump and the Russians. I’ve seen others say the same thing who have seen what is known in classified briefings. This Russia crap is just the Dems trying to find some excuse for their losing a election. Given all the rioting and such after the election loss, we already know they don’t handle losing very well.

  3. Totally partisan, and I’ve been reading your blogs for some time, Russia is a red herring for the Chinese hacks that the Obama admin swept under the rug. China attempted to manipulate the US elections and failed, this is what I can ascertain from the traffic, and reports from the last 3 years. Russia may have helped Trump secure his systems, the intent of China was to leak both sides causing election Chaos. Feel free to do the research, China not Russia was found in all sorts of sensitive servers, NASA, DHS, HHS, and many others. All federal agents were compromised in one of those hacks, that’s enough to fire Comey.

    1. Again, read comments above. I railed against Obama for 6 years. I am not a Democrat (nor a Republican), and criticizing Trump when he does stupid shit (which he does often) does not make me partisan.

      The reasons you gave in your post for firing Comey were not the reasons given by Trump. First it was alleged that Comey was fired for how he handled the Clinton e-mails. Then Trump came out and said it was because he was upset about Comey’s investigation of the Russia connection. Trump fired Comey to obstruct an investigation into himself, and ***whether or not Trump is guilty of anything that investigation may find***, his obstruction of it is a disgrace.

      1. Jonathan, I asked for examples of your railing, since I could find none. I’m still open to some examples, but your own blog shows that you only complained about Obama’s administration, never Obama himself. And it was always on privacy matters, not other things like hiring and firing, despite those activities being ever so slightly related to privacy.

        For example, you “railed” on Trump for firing a US Attorney when every president always fires EVERY US Attorney. I haven’t heard you defend that claim, and that’s one of the liberal fetishes that make you seem like a Dem rather than anything further right.

        1. The reason that my complaints were directed more towards Obama’s “administration” (which is still a complaint about Obama, since he was not properly managing his administration), than toward Trump’s administration and instead directly at Trump, is that Trump puts his name on everything. When the TSA did something stupid, Obama wouldn’t come out and say, “I had my TSA do this. The TSA is full of great people. The best people…” When something stupid happens now (Muslim ban, for example), it’s coming directly from the top.

          Again, I repeat: I couldn’t care less what party is next to a President’s name, and I don’t consider myself a member of a party. I care what they do.

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