Where is the institutional support for the independence of the Justice Department and the 'no one is above the law' standard of its employees?
July 20, 2017

Former Department of Justice official Matt Miller is disgusted. Aren't we all?

This morning Sessions basically told the world that Donald Trump shouldn't be taken seriously.
Trump's interview with The New York Times, in which he showed a lack of confidence in Sessions.

But what was worse, much worse, is that Trump showed his horrible authoritarian attitude about "loyalty to the president" from the head of the FBI and the Attorney General. Those offices are designed to be independent from the White House. This is a cornerstone of our democracy, that no one, even the president, is above the law, and if the president breaks the law, there is an officer of the government there to investigate without concern for being fired by the President.

All of those norms are out the window now. Trump may have wanted Sessions to quit, or he could have just been pulling words out of his butt. Regardless, both Trump and Sessions have indicated to the rank and file of the Justice Department that independence from the Oval Office is no big deal. Matt Miller thinks that is an affront to everyone who works at the Department of Justice. Who has their backs?

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Credit to both of them [Sessions and deputy AG Rosenstein] for answering questions. They've got to be disappointed that today should have been a big day, a win for them like last week, that massive bust around the opioid epidemic over 100 arrests, but Matt, you see the two gentleman standing there smiling ear to ear loving this job after the president basically lit them up.

MATT MILLER: I think the response from the attorney general and deputy attorney general was absolutely pathetic --

RUHLE: How do you really feel? [chuckling]

MILLER: Yeah, let's set aside the question of whether they have self-respect and wanted to defend their integrity after the president attacked them. He didn't just attack them, he attacked the Department of Justice, its independence and mission and rule of law. They have an obligation to the men and women they represent, to every career employee at the Department of Justice to stand up for its mission and push back on the president and say, you know, we will not be intimidated and not be bullied. The people that work here will pursue these investigations and follow the facts and follow the law if they are not willing to do that, they should leave today, get out of the way and leave the jobs to someone who will.

RUHLE: Maybe they are more clever than we are, maybe they are not punching a bully back. If Jeff Sessions listened to President Trump and said, 'golly gee, I guess you don't want me to be here, I'll quit' and President Trump replaces him with somebody who does listen to Trump and doesn't recuse himself, maybe that's somebody that fires Robert Mueller and maybe these two are playing Trump.

MILLER: One, that person would have to go through Senate confirmation and we would hope answer questions and the Senate wouldn't confirm someone who would be a stooge. There's a pattern here now, Sessions and Rosenstein had a chance to stand up to Trump already and that was their time to stand up for the Justice Department's mission and its independence. They didn't do it. I had hoped they learned their lesson and I think it's pretty clear today they haven't. It's not enough to push back privately and I'll be surprised if they push back privately. They need to publicly come out and remove the cloud he's put over the department. Tell the people that work there they are going to stand up and protect the mission... and they failed that test again today.

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