Even in the summer, the Trump circus does not take a break. The American president has taken the decay that characterizes his presidency to another level by taking shots at his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.
For several days, Donald Trump has been intensifying the attacks against Sessions in yet another attempt to divert attention away from the scandals that undermine his political and family circle, regarding allegations of collusion with Russia.
He started by expressing his disappointment in an interview last week with The New York Times about the fact that Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election. On Monday, he went on Twitter, lamenting that the attorney general has neglected to bring his former rival, Hillary Clinton, to justice. Trump is always only 140 characters or less away from reconnecting with his old demons.
And just like that, Sessions is now on an ejector seat. The threats of dismissal initiated by Trump are almost unanimously condemned. The Washington Post suggests that Trump's behavior is “worthy of a banana republic.”* The Wall Street Journal compares President Trump to Turkish autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Filipino autocrat Rodrigo Duterte. The New York Times sees it as "a useless, self-destructive act.”
The attacks say much about Trump's integrity, who is treating Sessions, an early supporter, as a common convenience. This man’s work, which is far from brilliant, does not inspire a feeling of indignation. Sessions has a retrograde view of justice. He is a supporter of strengthening the war on drugs, the ruthless fight against illegal immigration and the arbitrary seizure of citizens’ material assets by police without judicial control. Under his guidance, the Department of Justice argued that a federal law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation does not apply to gays. What's more, he lied during his confirmation hearing by hiding two meetings with a Russian diplomat during the campaign.
In order to safeguard the independence of the Department of Justice and the public's trust in the institution, Sessions could not do anything other than recuse himself from the Russia investigation. But Trump does not understand it that way. His position, summarized by his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci,** is that the attorney general should act as the president’s "goalkeeper." Trump has, incidentally, described Sessions' recusal from the investigation as as being "unfair to the president."
The work of Sessions is hardly perfect, but the principles involved in this new confrontation form the heart of a healthy democracy, and that is why the Republicans are coming to the defense of Sessions en masse. Trump blames the separation of power between the executive and the judiciary. He expects the attorney general to protect him from the investigation that comes close to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his son Donald Trump Jr. (to name just a few). In the name of required perverted loyalty, does he hope that Sessions will obstruct justice?
In a democracy, prosecution is based on facts, in compliance with laws and constitutional rights. The political motives of a president cannot distort this structure that is based on the rule of law.
*Editor’s Note: While accurately translated, this quote could not be verified.
**Editor’s Note: Since this article was written, Anthony Scaramucci has been replaced as communications director.