Home National Politics The Abomination of Trump’s Remarks on Sessions

The Abomination of Trump’s Remarks on Sessions


We never have to wait long for the next display of Trump’s utter unsuitability for the presidency. And fortunately, many in the major news media are monitoring the sequence of Trumpian atrocities fairly closely.

In the reporting I’ve seen about Trump’s bitter complaints about Jeff Session’s recusal, however, a few points have not been sufficiently stressed. I’d like to briefly state these here.

First, two points that just show Trump’s ignorance and cognitive incompetence. Then one point that shows his profound corruption– a corruption so profound that, it seems, Trump has no idea how much his statements amount to a confession to intentions bordering on criminality.

Trump frames his complaint about Sessions this way: “if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”

“He should have told me…” Gee, just how would that work? I mean, Trump named Sessions Attorney General last November. That always comes before confirmation hearings, doesn’t it? And it was at the confirmation hearings that Sessions lied under oath about not meeting with Russians. And that led to Sessions’ having to recuse himself.

So what kind of mind must the President have to imagine that, when Sessions took the job, he “should” have known he was going to recuse himself from an investigation that wasn’t known to exist, and because of developments that had not yet come to pass?

Second point: Trump has been angry about the recusal ever since Sessions did it, according to reports. Trump has always apparently thought that Sessions could have chosen otherwise. My recollection of the discussions at the time, however, is that knowledgeable people were saying that Justice Department rules essentially compelled Sessions to recuse himself.

Maybe Trump, who doesn’t give a damn about rules, imagines that Sessions could have just flouted those Justice Department rules and not recused himself. Maybe he could. But maybe not. In any event, either Trump is ignorant of the rules that bound Sessions, or he expects his people to do what’s in HIS interest, even if that means breaking long-standing and important rules. Or maybe a combination of both.

But the big point is the third: it is about why Trump so bitterly regrets that Sessions isn’t the guy overseeing the Russia/Trump investigation.

I’ve heard glimmerings in the media of what Trump is revealing here in making such a Big Deal about this recusal. But the point seems not to have been sufficiently underscored: Trump is angry because he wants an Attorney General who will protect him even if that means obstructing justice.

Trump doesn’t even seem to recognize that –as with the firing of Comey as Director of the FBI to give Trump “relief” from the investigation — he is announcing, with this Sessions complaint, that he wants the kind of “loyalty” to him, event at the cost of subverting the legitimate processes of “the rule of law,” that he reportedly sought to get from Comey.

There really is no other interpretation. Trump wants his man standing in the way of the inquiry into what happened with the Trump/Russia matter.

It is remarkable enough to have an American President who would want to subvert the independence of the Justice Department, and the rule of law.

Still more remarkable to have a President who would be so blind to what he is implying that he basically announce to the nation that interfering with the rule of law is his intention.

  • Andy Schmookler

    I see that Sally Yates went straight to the point, tweeting:

    “POTUS attack on Russia recusal reveals yet again his violation of the
    essential independence of DOJ, a bedrock principle of our democracy.”

  • Andy Schmookler

    Leon Neyfakh on slate.com (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/07/it_s_shocking_that_jeff_sessions_recused_himself_from_the_russia_investigation.html) notes what an aberration Sessuins recusing himself was in the context of the Trump administration. In Neymakh’s view, Session really could have refused to recuse. Because hey– who was going to make him in this lawless administration!

    He writes:

    “But Trump was right to be shocked when Sessions willingly stepped aside.
    Though it may have seemed like a no-brainer at the time, the fact that
    Sessions did the right thing stands, in retrospect, as the biggest
    surprise of the Trump era so far and one of the only instances in which
    this administration has lived up to a typical standard of government

    “In the before times, when presidential administrations behaved like
    presidential administrations, an attorney general’s willingness to
    listen to career staff on a matter of black-and-white institutional
    ethics wouldn’t have seemed extraordinary. Now it does, because with
    Trump as president, the notion that politics is governed by unchangeable
    laws of gravity has been exposed as a collective delusion. Under the
    new rules, Sessions could have remained in charge of the investigation
    even though he clearly shouldn’t have. Granted, it would have been
    impossible to justify such a decision in a rational, principled way. So

  • Andy Schmookler

    BTW, I recognize now that I mistaken in thinking that the blatant disregard for the rule of law, and the implicit obstruction of justice, were too little noted in the media accounts. I must just not have seen the right stuff. Happily, the important point here is being widely noted.

    I think this may be a teachable moment. Maybe even for some who have not abandoned their support for Trump.(Though it’s less clear-cut than shooting somebody on Fifth Avenue.)

    For one thing, no one can listen to Trump’s comments about Sessions and fail to note that it fully confirms what Comey has said Trump was up to with him.