Last week saw some behavior from the Donald Trump administration that is worrisome even by Trumpian standards. An unprecedented intervention by senior Justice Department officials on a sentencing memorandum, as well as Trump’s attacks on a federal judge, has prompted bipartisan outrage. In response, a national association of federal judges has scheduled a meeting to discuss the situation. And yet, if you believe one of Trump’s most rabid media cheerleaders, such concern is merely the product of “convulsions.”
Last Monday, federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia recommended that longtime Republican operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone get seven to nine years in prison for lying to Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks. Just hours later, however, senior Justice Department officials pulled the recommendation, prompting the entire four-member trial team to withdraw from the case in protest. Although a Justice Department spokesman claimed the decision was made before a barrage of angry tweets about the case from Trump, the optics at the very least looked suspicious.
In response, a bipartisan group of over 2,000 former Justice Department officials have signed an open letter calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign. Read it here. It denounces the intervention as “a grave threat to the administration of justice,” especially considering Stone’s close ties to Trump.
One of the signatories was Donald Ayer, who was Deputy Attorney General during the early part of the George H. W. Bush administration. He has known Barr for four decades, but now believes it’s time for him to go. He dropped by CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Monday to explain why he came to this conclusion; watch here.
Ayer told host Wolf Blitzer that he and his colleagues believe “politics and personal bias” have no place in criminal prosecutions. He was also alarmed by a memo Barr drafted before becoming Attorney General in which Barr argued that the president and the executive branch were one and the same, and thus had “complete and unlimited discretion” to intervene in criminal matters. Barr, Ayer argued, had fallen all over himself to carry out this vision, which Ayer and the other signatories believe runs counter to everything they were sworn to do.
A number of people who are currently on the payroll are sounding the alarm as well. On Monday, the Federal Judges Association, a voluntary association of federal judges from around the country, announced it would hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss Barr and Trump’s interventions in politically sensitive cases.
Association president Cynthia Rufe, a Philadelphia-based judge appointed by George W. Bush, told USA Today that the situation was too grave to put off until its regularly scheduled spring conference. Besides the Stone case, Rufe and her colleagues were concerned about Trump’s very public attacks at the judge in the Stone case, Obama appointee Amy Berman Jackson.
When Lou Dobbs saw these events, he hit the ceiling. As he saw it, this is nothing more than a nefarious deep state plot.
Wait a minute. So when Justice Department lawyers who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations and who run the philosophical gamut are concerned about the Attorney General effectively throwing his own prosecutors under the bus, it’s merely the product of “convulsions”? And when federal judges are concerned enough about the integrity of the system that they have to sit and talk about it right away, it’s because they’re having “convulsions”? That’s what you’d have to believe if you think Dobbs was on to anything at all here.
Riddle me this, Lou. If we as ordinary Americans are concerned about attacks on the rule of law by this White House, does that mean we’re having “convulsions”? We can only assume that the answer is yes, especially considering that he saw fit to tweet this alongside a typically incendiary article from Gateway Pundit describing the outrage by these moves as a “DEEP STATE REVOLT.”
We’ve come to expect very little from Dobbs. This is a man who believes it was fake news to actually delve into the devastation Hurricane Maria wrought on Puerto Rico. This is a man who claims suburbanites don’t really love America if they vote for Democrats. This is a man who believes that Trump should have told a federal judge to “go to hell” when that judge restored Jim Acosta’s White House credentials.
But even by those standards, this is outrageous. If you believe concern for the integrity of the criminal justice system is the product of convulsions, then you need to check your moral compass–assuming you even have one.
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