Trump Just Got Mercilessly Smacked Down by His Own Attorney General
More than 400 days of the Trump presidency are now in the books. We have learned to spot a pattern to President Donald Trump’s morning tweets. The anger and severity of his rants are often predicated on two things: how hard his administration was rocked by a negative story the night before or how hard they are going to be rocked by a story Trump knows is about to break.
The goal, in either case, is the same: distraction. By now though, journalists have learned to ignore (or at least, postpone) action on Trump’s morning twitter rants while they seek answers to the day’s more pressing issues. This morning, Trump unloaded on Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempting to lessen the impact of last night’s bad news. Trump got smacked down instead.
good leaders do not shy away from difficult conversations
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
I do not know why Sessions chose to have the Inspector General handle the FISA issue. Perhaps it is because there was no abuse (other than in Devin Nunes’ imagination) and the Attorney General does not wish to be party to that ongoing embarrassment? Maybe the task was handed off to the Inspector General because these FISA claims pertain to the ongoing Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling (and possible collusion with Trump officials) related to the 2016 election? Or maybe because he’s supposed to be recused from the Russia investigation? Could it be the Attorney General sought to avoid a conflict of interest? The Inspector General is, after all, an independent investigator. Having the Justice Department pursue the FISA issue would be akin to investigating themselves, or acting as the defense and as the prosecutor in the same case.
Michael Horowitz is the Inspector General. Yes, Barack Obama appointed him. But he is not a partisan hack as Trump’s tweet implies. He has been hard at work for a while now on an issue critical to President Trump, even though the election has been over for 16 months: Hillary Clinton’s email server.
If President Trump truly wanted answers, he did not need to take the fight to Twitter. Surely, Jeff Sessions is in the Oval Office every day or Trump could summon him? Demanding answers face-to-face is what a good boss would do. Trump is most certainly NOT a good boss. He does not even play one on television anymore.
Instead, Trump is trying to bypass the TV to create “a hostile work environment” as CNN described it on air Wednesday. With the apparent goal of getting Sessions to resign and let Trump appoint someone who won’t recuse from the Russia investigation. Someone to be “his Roy Cohn”, as Trump put it, and obstruct the investigation to protect him.
It hasn’t worked out that way so far…
Attorney general sessions finally smacked down trump
This afternoon, the Attorney General responded in a statement that the Justice Department “initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary.”
“As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”
Look at the people Trump attacked or denigrated in that one tweet: Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department, the Inspector General and his team, the FISA Court and the judges who issued the warrants, the FBI who procured the warrants, James Comey, and of course, President Obama. That is quite a list: 273 characters of venom.
What likely set Trump off? A really bad news day on Tuesday for the White House.
Tuesday night Trump’s Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance was downgraded. That is especially embarrassing as Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law. Worse are the reasons for the downgrade, and that many of the same traps officials worried could snare Kushner also reflect poorly on President Trump. These included a lack of government experience, extensive foreign business dealings, and a mountain of debt. The closer the issue hits to home, the more viciously the cornered rat lashes out. Clearly, this one was a bullseye.
Then there was the news that Mueller was homing in on Trump’s business dealings with Russia that seemed to coincide or barely precede his decision to run for President. This is an area Trump tried to draw a red line around, and Mueller has crossed it.
Then there was the revelation by Trump’s long trusted confidant, former model turned White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, who admitted Tuesday to telling “white lies” for the President.
Which just goes to show that this President just never figured out that when you’re in a hole, the first thing you have to do is stop digging.
Featured image photo by Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.