July 20, 2017
“Jeff Sessions says he won’t resign as attorney general after public rebuke from President Trump,” reads the headline from the New York Daily News. “Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions,” reads the headline from the New York Times, whose reporters (Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman) conducted the interview with Trump that’s leading the news today. Most of the headlines focus on this attack on Attorney General Sessions and the question of whether Sessions will or should resign following Trump’s public voicing of no confidence.
“Trump’s deeply worrisome New York Times interview reveals a lawless president” is the headline on Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line column in today’s Washington Post. I think that gets closer to the meat of this interview. This interview shows a president who does not understand his constitutional obligations to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
On the Lawfare blog, Benjamin Wittes makes the same point: that this president sees the Department of Justice, the FBI and all other federal police and legal institutions as his to direct as he pleases:
In an environment in which the President of the United States, in a single interview, expresses no-confidence in the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the special counsel, the acting FBI director, and the special counsel’s staff, and in which he makes clear that the FBI should be his personal force and that all of law enforcement should be about serving him, the principle protection is having people with backbone who are willing to do their jobs and stand up for one another in the elevation of their oaths of office over political survival.
Wittes clearly thinks Sessions should resign, and Rosenstein (Deputy Attorney General), too: it’s the only honorable thing to do. On the same blog, Jack Goldsmith (a Harvard Law Professor) disagrees. He thinks Sessions and others should stay precisely to protect the DOJ and the FBI. Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign need to continue.
When the President openly declares he is above the law, is there any fit remedy other than impeachment?