Tweets derogatory of Sessions cannot be ignored
Donald Trump’s tweets on Monday scolding Attorney-General Jeff Sessions for bringing charges against two Republicans in Congress are significant. They confirm that Trump thinks political considerations regarding the midterm elections should have guided the investigations and recent indictments.
I’m a committed Republican who mostly tries to give the White House the benefit of the doubt, but in this case, there is no doubt. The President’s words are clear: he wants to manipulate the administration of justice for his own benefit. It would be impossible for the Senate, which would have to confirm the next attorney-general, to ignore this.
It is now reasonable to assume that Trump has a bias to interfere with the administration of justice. Once Sessions takes his leave, think of all the pledges the next nominee for attorney-general will have to make to convince the Senate that they will not bow to the pressures of the President.
For starters, the nominee will probably have to agree to never meet privately with the President and never speak with him on the phone without a note-taker listening in.
There are many questions to answer:
• How will the nominee commit to ensuring that the biases of this president will be sufficiently disregarded so that prosecutions remain timely and just?
• How will the nominee guarantee that viable prosecutions will not be ignored, delayed or otherwise manipulated to help Republicans in the next campaign?
• How will the Senate be reassured that the Justice Department is walled off from the President’s corrupt intentions?
• How will the nominee go about securing the integrity of the American judicial system and preventing presidential misuse of law enforcement and prosecutions?
That such questions even have to be asked is stunning. Every American should be alarmed.
And, oh, by the way, I’ve been in the swamp for 35 years, and it might be news to Trump, but I do not believe there is one senator in either party who expects or wants the Justice Department to be used in furtherance of partisan political gain. No one wants to go where Trump’s tweets confirm he already is.
When Sessions steps down, the Senate must use the confirmation process for his successor to make rigorous new demands of the next attorney-general. Subsequent oversight from both houses of Congress will be unprecedented, but necessary. I don’t think the President has warped the Justice Department for ever, but he has certainly changed the way the Attorney General will have to operate through the remainder of his presidency.
• Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in 1991
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