Trump’s willful misunderstanding of the obligations of an Attorney General reflects a larger flaw in his Presidency and in his character.
Trump wasn’t taunting Sessions because of any policy differences between them but, rather, as usually seems to be the case with this President, for personal reasons. The core of the President’s grievance is that the Attorney General recused himself from the investigation into possible Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, thereby setting in motion the process that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller, the special counsel.
Sessions did the right thing; according to prosecutorial ethics, he cannot supervise a review of a campaign in which he played a prominent role. Trump’s willful misunderstanding of the obligations of an Attorney General reflects a larger flaw in his Presidency and in his character—his apparent belief that his appointees owe their loyalty to him personally, rather than to the nation’s Constitution and its laws, and, more broadly, to the American people.
.. no member of the Cabinet has worked more assiduously to advance Trump’s agenda than Sessions.
- .. He has reversed the Obama Administration’s commitment to voting rights, which had been reflected in Justice Department lawsuits against voter-suppression laws in North Carolina and Texas.
- He has changed an Obama-era directive to federal prosecutors to seek reasonable, as opposed to maximum, prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Similarly,
- he has revived a discredited approach to civil forfeiture, which will subject innocent people to the loss of their property.
- He has also backed away from the effort, championed by his predecessors Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, to rein in and reform police departments, like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, that have discriminated against African-Americans.
- .. Sessions has embraced the issue that first brought him and Trump together: the crackdown on immigration. Sessions’s subordinates have defended the President’s travel ban
.. No President in recent history has treated his Attorney General solely as a political, or even as a personal, functionary.
.. He had violated a principle that, until now, seemed inviolate: that the Attorney General serves the public, not the political interests of the President who appoints him.
.. On the Saturday night that Cox was fired, he said, “Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and ultimately the American people” to decide. So it remains today. ♦