.. if we want to question our reliance on cooperators, we must be ready to question our very culture. Many of the people calling “witch hunt” today will tomorrow return to familiar law-and-order tropes. The president who decries “flipping” is simultaneously excoriating his opponents for being, as he sees it, soft on crime. Our vision of the criminal justice system is based not on reality, but on Nixonian rhetoric and Dick Wolf’s endlessly televised stories of heroic law enforcers fighting against shifty defense lawyers and sociopathic defendants. In short, flipping works because the culture tells us to trust prosecutors, police and even cooperators uncritically. Only a civic culture of healthy skepticism of prosecutors’ claims — a genuine appreciation for the concept of reasonable doubt — can change that.
.. But we won’t learn that skepticism from Trump, who routinely proclaims that the law protects criminals too much and that police should stop being gentle with them. His concern reaches only as far as his own skin and his own confederates. Serious criminal justice reform won’t come from partisan controversy. Today’s posturing critics of the system will vanish tomorrow. Only a bipartisan commitment to justice, fairness and the rule of law will protect anyone — let alone the president — from abuse of cooperation.
Mr. Trump voiced disdain for “flipping,” saying that people lie to prosecutors about “whoever the next-highest one is,” so that they can get more lenient terms.
“I’ve seen it many times,” he said. “I’ve had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.”
.. Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor, said that Mr. Trump’s comments amount to “an absolutely outrageous statement and to any prosecutor would just be shocking to hear.”
“It’s hard to overstate how fundamental” to prosecutions cooperating witnesses are, Mr. Zeidenberg said. Noting the president praised his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for not seeking a plea deal in his tax- and bank-fraud trial, he said, “He doesn’t talk like a president. He talks like a crime boss.”
.. “Trump’s idea would effectively demolish one of the basic and valuable tools of criminal law enforcement in the U.S.,” said Stephen Gillers, a professor at the New York University School of Law.
.. Mr. Trump said that Mr. Cohen, who has described himself as the president’s “fixer,” was a lawyer who “didn’t do big deals” but “did small deals.”
“Not somebody that was with me that much,” he said.
.. “For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers,” he said. “Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go….It’s not fair.”
.. In the Fox News interview, Mr. Trump suggested that Democrats still have great sway over the Justice Department, which is now led by his appointees. He suggested that his annoyance with Mr. Sessions stems in part from the Justice Department’s failure to prosecute his 2016 election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, over her email practices when she served as secretary of state.
.. “Even my enemies say that ‘Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself, and then you wouldn’t have put him in.’ He took the job, and then he said I’m going to recuse myself,” Mr. Trump said.