The Principle of Professional Law Enforcement Is Now on the Line

Expect President Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the next few days. Maybe he won’t do it. Maybe he’ll change his mind. But Trump is apparently livid at Rosenstein and both The Washington Post and CNN have reported that he is actively contemplating Rosenstein’s removal. Trump urged people on Twitter last night to watch Sean Hannity, who in turn invited on his show a guest who egged the president on in firing his deputy attorney general. The air in Washington right now is thick with Rosenstein’s imminent removal.

Many people will not shed tears over Rosenstein if Trump, in fact, pulls the trigger. After all, Rosenstein played a shameful role in the firing of James Comey. He’s tried to keep a lot of masters happy in his year in office, and one risk of serving multiple masters is that none of them emerges fully satisfied. You risk ending up looking like a weasel.

I understand the instinct to treat a Rosenstein firing as different from a Mueller firing. I have been fiercely critical of Rosenstein in the past. But today is the wrong day to dwell on Rosenstein’s vices and errors—because those vices are not the reasons Trump is persecuting Rosenstein. Instead, Trump is persecuting Rosenstein because of the deputy attorney general’s virtues.

And it is because of those virtues that defending Rosenstein is now a critical imperative for everyone who is concerned about the Trump administration’s erosions of the independence of law enforcement. His removal, if the president can effectuate it with impunity, would shatter long-standing expectations of what federal law enforcement is, what it isn’t, and how presidents can and cannot properly use it.

Trump is livid because Rosenstein has supervised two separate investigations that involve both Trump himself and those close to him, now including Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen—and because Rosenstein has not loosed the Justice Department and the FBI on Hillary Clinton and other political foes of the president. In other words, the president wants to fire Rosenstein because apolitical law enforcement is stronger with him than without him, and the president is at war with the very notion of apolitical law enforcement.

You don’t need to take my word on this point. Trump himself says it all the time—and loudly. He announces at every turn that he thinks the attorney general’s job is to protect him from the Russia …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

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