NOW IT’S JEFF SESSIONS’S TURN TO BE TRUMP’S WHIPPING BOY

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It was not surprising Monday when Donald Trump lashed out at critics of his travel ban and raged against the courts for blocking his executive order. Lashing out and raging, after all, are what the president does best. But even Trump’s closest allies were confused by his decision to seemingly bash his own staffers, lawyers, and the administration officials who work for him. “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C. [the Supreme Court],” he seethed, perhaps forgetting that he had signed that very order himself. Undercutting the legal team fighting to convince the Supreme Court that Trump’s ban is not a ban but rather a “temporary pause that allows us to better review the existing refugee and visa vetting system”, the president exploded on Twitter, “I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!”

The president’s self-defeating, one-sided feud with his own Justice Department apparently goes to the very top. According to The New York Times’s Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Trump’s Twitter tantrum was merely the public expression of Trump’s long-simmering frustrations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions—one of Trump’s earliest supporters and, it seems, one of his greatest disappointments. Just weeks after taking over the D.O.J., Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia after it emerged that he had undisclosed contacts with U.S. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump was furious, and reportedly criticized his staff for not defending Sessions more. But as time passed, Trump’s anger apparently shifted to Sessions himself. People close to Trump told the Times that the president blamed Sessions’s recusal for leading his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, to appoint a special counsel to oversee the Russia inquiry. (Never mind the fact that Trump himself created the need for a special counsel by firing the director of the F.B.I., James Comey, allegedly for failing to drop his investigation.)




Trump’s public criticism of Sessions was enough to prompt a rebuke from White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, who recently took himself out of the running for a top D.O.J. role. The president’s tweets, he said, would only hurt his chances of successfully defending his travel ban before the Supreme Court—and that “every sensible lawyer” in the White House Counsel’s Office and “every political appointee” at the Justice Department would agree. Trump’s tweets were, others agreed, a remarkably self-destructive move with no obvious strategy behind them, besides riling up his base. “They wholly undercut the idea that there is some rational process behind the president’s decisions,” former solicitor general Walter E. Dellinger told the Times. “I believe it is unprecedented for a president to publicly chastise his own Justice Department.”

Trump may not fully understand the implications of lashing out at his own Justice Department on Twitter, or that his public statements will almost certainly be used as evidence against him and the travel ban before a court. In its initial decision blocking the ban, the Ninth Circuit cited Trump’s own tweets, and the statements of his advisers, as evidence that that the administration’s ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries relied on an unconstitutional religious test. Neal Katyal, the attorney representing the state of Hawaii’s challenge to the ban, tweeted that ”Its kinda odd to have the defendant in HawaiivTrump acting as our co-counsel. We don’t need the help but will take it! [sic]”



For law professor and occasional Trump apologist Alan Dershowitz, however, Trump is simply acting like any angry client who wants better results from his legal team. “What he’s saying is, ‘I’m the president, I’m the tough guy, I wanted a very tough travel ban and the damn lawyers are weakening it’—and clients complain about lawyers all the time,” he told the Times. “I see this more as a client complaining about his lawyer. The lawyer in this case happens to be Jeff Sessions.”



 

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/donald-trump-jeff-sessions-problems

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