“More Sinned Against Than Sinning”: The Sacking of Sessions Leaves a Dangerous Delusion for Trump

jeff_sessions_official_portraitBelow is my column in USA Today on the sacking of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the implications for the Trump Administration.  The most worrisome thing about the forced resignation is that Trump still does not understand that Sessions not only took the only ethical course in recusing himself, but the best course for the Administration.

Here is the column:

In the Shakespearean drama known as the Trump administration, the Jeff Sessions is the ultimate tragic figure undone by doing the right thing. His epitaph could accurately borrow a line from King Lear: “I am a man more sinned against than sinning.”

Sessions was the first powerful Republican and U.S. Senator to support Donald Trump. However, his greatest service to Trump was the act that Trump never forgave him for: his recusal from the Russian investigation. The fact that Trump still does not seem to appreciate how Sessions helped him is precisely why this resignation is so unnerving. The appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general only magnifies those concerns.

When Sessions was nominated, some of us immediately said that he should recuse himself since he played a key role in the campaign.  Sessions did not immediately do so but rather waited for a full review of career ethics experts at the Justice Department. That review came to the same conclusion that a recusal was needed to protect the integrity of his department and the investigation.

Trump began crisis by firing Comey

The recusal snowballed in significance after Trump unwisely fired then FBI Director James Comey. I was highly skeptical of the need for a special counsel until Trump fired Comey. Trump insiders have stated that only Jared Kushner supported firing Comey, but Trump still gave the order. Had he stayed quiet and allowed the FBI to complete its investigation, he would have been likely cleared in short order. However, that firing left little question that a special counsel was needed. That had nothing to do with Sessions.

Even then, Trump should have seen the benefit of the recusal. There is still no direct criminal evidence against Trump of obstruction or collusion. By recusing himself, Sessions guaranteed that such a conclusion would be untainted by questions of improper influence. Instead, Trump began his campaign of self-defeating attacks on Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump clearly wanted Sessions to bring the investigation to a rapid close and to refuse to appoint a special counsel. That would have required Sessions to shut down an investigation that was already pursuing possible criminal charges. That could well have cascaded from a threat of weak prosecution into a strong impeachment.

More: Jeff Sessions’ firing poses grave threat to Robert Mueller inquiry

Flashback: Trump political protection plan is replace Sessions with Mueller saboteur

Two more years of this? Donald Trump spars with media during press conference

Despite Trump’s continual abuse of Sessions, the attorney general continued to advance his agenda in every other way. Indeed, Sessions has been one of the most aggressive cabinet members in reshaping the policies of his department to push through Trump’s policies on immigration, criminal justice and a host of other areas.

The lesson not learned from Sessions could still prove lethal for this president. The appointment of Whitaker may well indicate a worrisome failure of comprehension. Whitaker has previously suggested that an acting attorney general could kill Mueller’s investigation without actually firing him. He has also been critical of the investigation.

Whitaker’s appointment could still snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Mueller is clearly winding down his investigation. While there are some possible subjects (like Donald Trump Jr. and Trump confidante Roger Stone) who may be facing serious threats, Trump is unlikely to be indicted or even implicated in collusion or obstruction. If Whitaker acts to limit Mueller at this point, it could raise new concerns for obstruction.

Moreover, Whitaker could well receive Mueller’s report and refuse to send the report to Congress or approve new charges. Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Whittaker can serve without Senate confirmation for 210 days. That would mean serving until June 2019 – well beyond the expected date for the submission of the report. Finally, Whitaker could mirror a hardline approach with the new White House counsel in refusing investigatory demands from the new Democratic-controlled House.

The longer Whitaker serves, the more suspicious

Whitaker could use the next seven months to move the Justice Department into a fully bunkered position with regard to the Special Counsel and congressional investigations. He could then hand over the department to a nominee to become the permanent Attorney General. The longer he serves in this position, the more likely he will be viewed as a cynical choice. There is no reason why a new attorney general nominee could not be selected in January and, with a strong Republican majority in the Senate, such a nomination could move swiftly to confirmation. Continuing with an acting attorney general for an artificially long period would add suspicions that Whitaker was selected as a type of one-trick pony.

None of this means that Trump is about to repeat his mistakes from the start of his administration. In his press conference, Trump said that he does not intend to cut short the investigation despite his contempt for it. Moreover, while Rosenstein would have been the natural choice as acting attorney general, Rosenstein’s own serious conflicts of interest (and baffling failure to recuse himself as a witness in the investigation) makes his selection problematic. Finally, Whitaker is likely to allow Mueller to continue and could well defer to him on criminal charges in conformity with prior Department special investigations.

This brings us back to lesson of Sessions. For the president, the lesson was appointing someone who put the ethics rules of justice over the interests of the president. If Whitaker is viewed as the anti-Sessions, that could put him in a very difficult position within weeks. The greatest test for Whitaker could come if Mueller proposes an indictment of someone like Trump Jr. or a report with damaging evidence against President Trump.  At such a moment, the problem may not be Whitaker’s inclinations but Trump’s expectations.

Jonathan Turley, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter: @JonathanTurley

168 thoughts on ““More Sinned Against Than Sinning”: The Sacking of Sessions Leaves a Dangerous Delusion for Trump”

  1. Off topic, a tribute to Veteran’s Day:

    Video at: https://clarionproject.org/watch-iranian-students-refuse-to-step-on-american-flag/

    Some of our American friends should take notice how Iranian students are unwilling to desecrate our flag..

    “A common tactic of the Iranian regime is to affix American flags to the floor at the entrances to various buildings in Iranian universities so that students, on their way to class, must desecrate the flag and, by extension, America, to get in.

    Students are often used to deliver the regime’s message to the Iranian people and the world at large. When the tactic fails to work, the regime resorts to fake pictures. Especially in light of America’s new sanctions on Iran, the regime has increased its anti-America propaganda machine.

    However, the following videos out of Kermanshah, Iran at Razi University show students refusing to participate in the regime’s anti-Americanism ruse. They can be seen going out of their way to avoid stepping on the American flag.

    The clips, which went viral in the first hours after they were published, have embarrassed the…

  2. DOWNFALL OF SESSIONS SHOWS..

    TRUMP HAS NO LOYALTY TO ANYONE

    Politically I have no love for Jeff Sessions. His appointment signaled a hard right turn for the Justice Department.

    But Sessions was one of the first Senators to endorse Trump’s campaign. Sessions gave credibility to Trump at a time when Trump was still (correctly) regarded as a fringe candidate.

    Yet Trump has publicly abused Sessions to a point that was cringeworthy to the general public. And as Professor Turley notes, Sessions was making a good-faith effort to function on Trump’s behalf.

    Trump’s treatment of Sessions should be a warning to every conservative in government: “Don’t get involved with Donald Trump! He will disown you in a second for reasons that are totally capricious”.

    And comically one should note that one day after appointing Whitaker, Trump falsely claimed he never met the man!

    1. The Presidency is not about personal friendships. It is about running the nation. Right or wrong that is what Trump was doing. You are too used to the potentially criminal actions under the Obama administration.

      Despite the left’s overwhelming desire for power and greed there are some statesmen on the right that are willing to give their all to the nation.

    1. We don’t disenfranchise people who have been accused of crimes or those convicted of misdemeanors. Therefore registration opportunities are available in any properly run jail.

      1. “We don’t disenfranchise people who have been accused of crimes…”

        Richard, we don’t, but what seems to be a bit unnerving is that those most responsible for the deaths of those Parkland students look to enfranchise the killers and other reprobates but not those of hard working families whose votes are diluted by illegal voting practices.

        1. Allan, what are you babbling about???

          “Parkland students look to enfranchise the killers and other reprobates but not those of hard working families whose votes are diluted by illegal voting practices”.

          What proof on earth do you have that Parkland students don’t care about “hard working families”? This is just another of your endless nonsensical comments! And ‘what’ illegal voting practices?? It’s just a vague, assertion lacking any specificity.

          1. Peter, it should have said officials who were supposed to protect the Parkland students in particular the office of Sheriff Israel..

            That was my error and I thank you for pointing it out. You can get further clarity by going to the http I posted above and post again here.

            https://www.bizpacreview.com/2018/11/11/sheriff-allowed-people-into-jail-to-register-parkland-shooter-to-vote-in-broward-victims-dad-says-sick-to-my-stomach-692540?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=BPR%20Email&utm_campaign=DMS

            1. “Cruz registered on July 25 as a Republican, according to online state records. He used the address of the Broward County Jail, 555 SE First Ave., in Fort Lauderdale.”

              “Cruz remains eligible to vote in Florida. The 20-year-old is a Florida resident and U.S. citizen; is over 18; and, despite standing mute before 17 counts of first degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first degree murder, hasn’t been convicted of a felony yet.”

              https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article221481465.html

              1. The point being made had little to do with which party Cruz was registered with. It had to do with the problem that those that were supposed to keep the children safe didn’t. Scott Israel is a Democrat who didn’t protect the school despite so many. According to one of the fathers others that were supposed to protect the school didn’t as well and I believe a good number of those known were Democrats. Then again the origin of the problem was Obama, a Democreat, who pushed the Promise program that led to no official reports being levied on Cruz who killed all those children.

                When we think of lots of deaths of young people all we have to do is look at the worst inner cities where the most people are killed. In general those cites are run by Democrats. For some reason the Democrats on this list want to forget about all those deaths.

                1. Allan on November 11, 2018 at 10:55 AM:

                  “Off topic election news for Broward County: No effort spared to get Democratic vote.”

                  After learning that the Miami Herald reported this:

                  “Cruz registered on July 25 as a Republican”

                  …the big old Allanucklehead says this:

                  “The point being made had little to do with which party Cruz was registered with.”

                  Right.

                  1. Anonymous, learn to read the English language. My comment had little to do with who Cruz was registered with. It had to do with those that were supposed to protect the students and most of them, if not all, that were in control and directly involved were Democrats.

                    Don’t forget Obama’s Promise Program which led to those students deaths.

                    Don’t forget all those kids killed in Chicogo’s inner city a city run by Democrats.

                    1. Yes, Anonymous, learn to read. That doesn’t mean you can’t read at all. It means you aren’t very good at it.

  3. ALL political players have opinions. The SCOPE of Mueller’s authority has been controversial from the beginning -from ALL sides. What if Whitaker had unequivically opined that Mueller ‘s probe was well-warranted? . Would you argue for his recusal then ???? (after all, his pre-disposed opinion should disqualify him) ? Let’s get Ruth Bader Ginsburg off the Court–I haven’t seen her recusal in Trump administration cases….

  4. “ Had he stayed quiet and allowed the FBI to complete its investigation, he would have been likely cleared in short order.”

    On what basis does Professor Turley make this statement? Isn’t it clear that the object of the left was the removal of a legitimately elected President? Wasn’t Comey implicated in all sorts of sordid events? Haven’t we seen others at the FBI similarly involved? Is the professor blind to all the events that followed and were disclosed? Is he unaware of the cries of impeachment even though no crimes were committed?

    “cleared in short order.”

    This sounds more like a conclusion based on fantasy than on reality.

    “ Mueller is clearly winding down his investigation.”

    Though I think that more likely to be true than not I believe based on prior statements made by the pundits there is good reason to believe that the investigation could continue for the rest of the President’s first term. Then again we should remember that many said Trump would have been better off had he fired Comey right at the start.

    “, Rosenstein’s own serious conflicts of interest (and baffling failure to recuse himself as a witness in the investigation) makes his selection problematic.”

    It also shows why Professor Turley’s opinion on this subject seems surreal.

    1. Allan,
      If the same players at the FBI conducted the Trump/ Russia investigation in a manner similar to the Hillary email investigation, the opinion that Trump would have been “cleared in short order” makes a lot of sense.

    2. “the removal of a legitimately elected President”
      The problem is, to many of us the election of Mr. Trump does not seem very legitimate at all. Quite possibly a successful covert Russian operation.

      It also is troubling to many of us that Trump views the Attorney General as owing first loyalty to him, and not to the Constitution or to the citizens of the country.

      1. “The problem is, to many of us the election of Mr. Trump does not seem very legitimate at all.”

        Jay, in a country of over 300 million, many can mean relatively few and of those relatively few I doubt many can formulate an argument to defend such a position. Those that can formulate an argument are unable to adequately defend it.

        “It also is troubling to many of us that Trump views the Attorney General as owing first loyalty to him, and not to the Constitution or to the citizens of the country.”

        Where did the President say that? He didn’t. We all expect some form of loyalty by those we hire for positions working with one another. That type of loyalty does not mean that loyaty to the Constitution first and foremost doesn’t exist. I challenge you to prove your contention.

        1. Prof. Turley is an academic. They have loyalties only to their social circle, faction, and professional guild.

  5. This whole thing started with Comey setting up the President so they could release the pee-pee papers. It was not the firing of Comey. Comey deserved firing, as do all the others down the line that Shiff is now trying to defend.

    1. Paul, should Comey have been fired by Loretta Lynch when he did that end run around her by releasing his letter to congress about the Hillary investigation?

      1. Peter Hill – I have seen Lynch interviewed and she seemed blindsided by Comey’s actions. As such she should have recommended his firing. She clearly was not in control.

        1. Paul, we both agree; Lynch ‘should’ have fired Comey.

          But I think we know Republicans would have howled with outrage. Right-wing media would have immediately claimed that Lynch was “covering for Hillary” and “trying to stop the investigation”. For that reason Lynch didn’t fire Comey.

          1. Peter Hill – I do think Lynch even considered firing Comey. Or even putting a reprimand in his file. She just let it go.

          2. Lynch should have had another tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton before deciding when (and if) Comey should be fired.
            Had Comey been fired by Lynch after his July 2016 news conference and Congressional testimony, it’s ridiculous to claim that “right-wing media” would have objected to bouncing Comey.
            At different points of Comey’s last c.10 months as FBI Director, he was widely despised on bipartisan basis.
            When Comey finally was fired, it was the “left-wing” media that went ape-sh** over his firing.

  6. None of this means that Trump is about to repeat his mistakes from the start of his administration. In his press conference, Trump said that he does not intend to cut short the investigation despite his contempt for it. Moreover, while Rosenstein would have been the natural choice as acting attorney general, Rosenstein’s own serious conflicts of interest (and baffling failure to recuse himself as a witness in the investigation) makes his selection problematic. Finally, Whitaker is likely to allow Mueller to continue and could well defer to him on criminal charges in conformity with prior Department special investigations.

    This is a classic roller coaster post from Turley that has something for everyone, only to dump them out exactly where they began. Trump firing Comey was bad but Rosenstein recommended it. Rosenstein would be the natural choice for AG but has serious issues that make it problematic. Whittaker is a failure for Trump but is likely to do the right thing. At least Turley has reframed the end of Session’s tenure as a forced resignation rather as a firing. That’s a change from his previous posts.

    1. You nailed it here: “…This is a classic roller coaster post from Turley that has something for everyone, only to dump them out exactly where they began…” I always felt something a little strange about Turley, and you describe it well. He is neither hot nor cold, except when it comes to homosexual nuptials and bigamy.

  7. I am curious how Prof. Turley can state dogmatically that “Trump is unlikely to be indicted or even implicated in collusion or obstruction.” Where is the evidence for such a statement. Without a proffer of evidence, the statement is as meaningless as my opinion on the subject would be.

    1. The evidence is in what you’re not seeing. This investigation has been ongoing for 27 months and change, and that enumeration does not include the prelude wherein the FBI was running informants. In that time, all you’ve gotten is BS indictments. By contrast, look at the Watergate investigations. You had three sets of core defendants: the set of White House plumbers running the burglary and spying, the set of White House operatives who negotiated guilty pleas on charges under the colloquial heading ‘obstruction of justice’, and you had another set of Administration and campaign operatives who went to trial on such charges. By the last week of September 1974, convictions had been entered for everyone in the first two sets of defendants. The trial of the third set was due to open in a matter of days. That’s what a non-spurious special prosecutor investigation looks like.

      1. The investigation headed by Mueller has been ongoing for less than 2 years. Mueller is notoriously “by the book,” and keeps whatever his team has found “close to the chest.” So to say that there’s no evidence is not only foolish, it borders on comical.

        1. The investigation headed by Mueller has been ongoing for less than 2 years.

          It was opened by the FBI on 31 July 2016.

          Mueller is notoriously “by the book,”

          Tell that to Dr. Stephen Hatfill, or Gen. Flynn.

      2. Tabby, Mueller hasn’t been Special Counsel for ’27 months’. Mueller has been in his position for about 18 months. There was no Special Counsel before him. So you’re being disingenuous, as usual, by citing this ’27 months’ number.

        1. Peter Hill – Mueller piggy-backed on the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump so the 27 month timeline is correct.

          1. PC Schulte,..
            We’ve been over this dozens of times, and it does not sink in with those who can’t grasp that the Trump/ Russia collusion” started in July 2016, not May 2017.
            Suppose that, hypothetically, Mueller resigned tommorrow due to health issues.
            Let’s say that Weinstein, one of his hard-charging prosecutors, takes over as Special Counsel.
            On Tuesday, we’d be hearing that “the investigation is only a day old”.

              1. He has mentioned possibly moving from Hollywood to Michigan, so there’s a sliver of hope for redemption😇 in his case.😉😂

                  1. I noted before, as have others, that the system has erroneously labeled some comments as from “anonymous”.
                    I don’t think that LT anonymous has any patent/copywrite protection of the username Anonymous; if this is another one of LTA’s “substantive”, burning issues, it should be taken it up with WordPress or whoever.

                    1. It’s odd that you would jump to the conclusion that I have an “issue” with it, when I simply found it amusing — just as I find the “LT” business amusing. This is to the silly one — Mr. Nash.

                1. The midwest is not a good place for Peter. it’s full of rubes and whatever else his good buddy mark m calls us in flyoverland. the hinterlands are filled with Ted Nugent gun toting hunters and detroit is full of beer drinking union members that mostly have little patience for the cosmopolitan sipping academic Left.

                  and the blacks and arabs are not very friendly to interlopers either. stay in LA Peter there you will be safe. if you aren’t burnt to a crisp by a wildfire brought on by… global warming, per “Moonbeam”

          2. Paul, the initial investigation was ‘not’ a Special Counsel Probe.

            Therefore the ’27 month’ timeline is not invalid. It’s only used by Trump supporters to claim the probe has gone 9 months longer than it has. Totally disingenuous!

            1. Peter Hill – it is my understanding that Mueller is not a Special Counsel. Therefore piggy-backing on a counter-intelligence investigation and co-oping their personnel counts.

              1. PC Schulte,..
                I made a comment about the possible hope of “redemption ” for Peter if he moved to Michigan; it was incorrectly posted under “anonymous”, I think.
                Anyway, strike that comment after Peter’s continued insistance that ” the 27 month timeline is invalid”.

            2. There has been no Special Counsel investigation into the Hillary email “matter”; FBI investigations don’t count.
              So by that “logic”, ONLY Special Counsel investigations count.
              Any information obtained from any other source is either non-existent, or invalid.

  8. As usual in life, it is not just a case of one side being right and the other wrong.

    Trump seems to have been misled by the disgraceful conduct of the DOJ under Holder and Lynch. He got the idea that the AG should serve as his wingman and Justice would do his bidding before doing its duty.
    Trump treated Sessions abysmally and his public ridicule of him was painful to watch, after from being a disgraceful way to treat a subordinate, it was unproductive at best. Trump also muffed the Comey firing by expounding on his thought process.

    Sessions rightfully recused himself but he should have seen it coming. The matter of Russia and recusal was raised repeatedly during his confirmation hearing. When it became clear that the coup was on and moving towards a Special Counsel, Sessions should have resigned, calling out the offense to our system that the Special Counsel process creates. Sadly, his personal ambition to become the Attorney General of the United States, seems to have colored his judgement.

    1. ti317, …
      – The chronology of events in Sessions’ time as nominee, the confirmation hearing, the exchange with Sen. Franken, and the recusal is interesting.
      I think it’s also significant; I don’t think that the “Russia/ recusal issue” came up in the confirmation hearings.
      If it did, it was only on passing, and a minor issue at that stage.
      I’ll have to review the timeline to be certain, but I think your comment that “The matter of Russia and recusal was raised repeatedly during his confirmation hearing” is not accurate.
      I think Sessions was nominated by Trump, or it was known that Sessions would be the nominee, even before the Jan. 20, 2017 inauguration.
      I think Sessions was confirmed in early Feb., 2017; from what I remember of the prior confirmation hearings, they were largely about Sessions’ alleged views on civil rights, gun control, law enforcement, etc.
      I don”t remember the Russia/ recusal issue even coming up at that stage, but I’d have to double-check to be sure.
      It was on or about March 1, 2017 that the Franken-Sessions exchange happened.
      It was a rambling, screwed-up question by Sen. Franken, and an even more screwed-up answer by Sessions that was the real source the actual beginning, of the Russia/ recusal issue.
      So the “Russia issue” with respect to Sessions came up only AFTER Sessions was confirmed as Att. Gen., not during the confirmation hearings.
      Again, we and (other readers) can go back and check the timeline….and our memories😉…in the Session/ Russia/ recusal saga.
      It looked to me like the issue Sen. Franken raised was strategically timed, but that’s another issue.

    2. ti317,…
      I replied to your comment; it may or may not post.
      The gist of it was that I didn’t remember the Russia/ recusal issue coming up during Sessions’ confirmation hearings….those opposed to his nomination emphasized Sessions’ alleged record on civil rights, gun control, etc.
      I’ll try to do some additional checking on this; if I remember the timeline correctly, the Russia/ recusal issue did not come up until 3-4 werks AFTER Sessions had already been confirmed.
      In the exchange with Sen. Franken.

        1. ti317,..
          ( My earlier comment did get posted).
          The Guardian article I linked was in line with what I remembered from the Sessions’ confirmation hearings, but I’ll check some more sources to see if the the Russia/ recusal issue might have come up in those hearings.
          “I have no recollection” 😒 of that issue arising during the hearings, but I’m not 100% certain that they didn’t come up.

    3. The Sessions matter is very troubling. I place a lot of blame on Sessions without having any desire for him to have compromised himself. I am not sure of the law or the exact way the AG department functions. I blame Sessions for his timing. He knew the seriousness of the Russia investigation and should have known that at least some of it was bogus and political. He did not have to resign when he did and he didn’t have to compromise his integrity as AG. There were other aspects of the Russia investigation that he should have looked into even if he didn’t intend to do anything for fear of compromising himself. That look would have revealed the politicalization of the investigation and the inappropriateness of Rod Rosensteing controlling such an investigation. At the very least he should have seen to it that Rosenstein also recused himself. What Sessions did was permit an imbalance in the office of the AG making the investigation a political event rather than a routine search for the facts.

      1. Allan,
        If the Sept. 2016 meeting Sessions had with the Russian ambassador were known to those opposing Sessions’ confirmation, they would not necessarily bring it up during the confirmation hearings.
        The allegations of Dr. Ford were not brought up during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. It was only after the conclusion of those hearings that those allegations surfaced.
        I don’t think Sessions knew that he was going to be blindsided with the Russia/recusal issue after his confirmation hearings, any more than Kavanaugh expected to be hit with these 11th hour accusations after the confirmation hearing were concluded.
        I blame Sessions for incompetent handling of Franken’s “question/ statement”, but I don’t blame Sessions for the timing.

        1. Tom, Sessions took office Feb 2017. The Russia investigation was well underway, Flynn was in trouble and there were looming questions over inappropriate actions of the AG, IRS etc. during the Obama administration. Comey had already demonstrated a potential problem at the FBI.

          My comment excluded discussion of Sessions not taking the job as AG and excluded Sessions from compromising his integrity. My comment was directed soley at one possibility. Sessions should not have recused himself at that time and should have evaluated the situation even if he didn’t act, protecting himself from being compromised.

    1. Excerpted from the speech linked above:

      The internet web site for the Eastern District of Virginia proudly states, and I quote, “John Marshall … was appointed by President Washington to serve as the first United States Attorney for the District of Virginia.”

      Virginia’s claim to Chief Justice Marshall as the first U.S. Attorney is quite a distinction. But it is not entirely accurate. Now, it is literally true that John Marshall was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Washington. But he never actually served as U.S. Attorney.

      In fact, Marshall responded to the President with a letter of his own. Marshall wrote, “[T]hank you … very sincerely for the honor … [but] I beg leave to declare that … with real regret[,] I decline ….”

      Washington replied with yet another letter. He wrote, “As some other person must be appointed to fill the Office of Attorney for the district of Virginia, it is proper your Commission should be returned to me.” He wanted the document back!

      Perhaps that explains why, when the case of Marbury versus Madison came along in 1803, Chief Justice Marshall focused so intently on the importance of the signed commission.

  9. This brings us back to lesson of Sessions. For the president, the lesson was appointing someone who put the ethics rules of justice over the interests of the president.

    Actually, the lesson was that you should appoint experienced executives who won’t be rolled by schemers in the permanent government. Law professors, who have nobody working under them but a couple of research assistants, are unlikely to appreciate that.

  10. Oh I almost forgot to mention this since we’re getting all Shakespearean. Consider this thought from the bard which should be carved above every Trump carping academic’s door:

    The native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought;
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
    With this regard, their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action.

    Hamlet, Act III, Sc 1

  11. The problem is, JT, that recusal rendered Sessions impotent to oversee the special prosecutor which allowed Mueller to become a roving commission or more precisely a knight errant scouring the countryside looking for crimes both high and low. For example, trapping Flynn in a perjury rap or the shenanigans of yesteryear by Trump campaign officials. The rodent-like Rosenstein was willing to allow political hacks to do what they do and hijak the investigation which of course, they did. Sessions should done the honorable thing and resigned years ago. Mueller should have resigned too due to his obvious conflict over Comey. But hey it easier to blame Trump.

  12. It would suit a lot of people if the Russian investigation were shut down and a special counsel were appointed to investigate Mr Trump’s fitness for office. The majority of voters considered and considers him to be unfit for office. Most are unconcerned about Russian interference. More are concerned about Israeli interference.

    1. Consider Sam that all your musings exist only in your head. No one considers Israel the US puppet master except the loons of the left and Trump’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s at this point in his tenure. Investigate Trumps fitness? Oh, physician heal thyself!

      1. mespo

        All of those wars for Israel do nothing directly for the right-wing. The loony left fails to understand that every invasion/war for Israel only benefits the left-wing military security complex and the natural resources extraction industry — which is fully funded by Soros…
        maybe.

        1. “left-wing military security complex” trying to coin a new phrase? Isn’t there some deep conspiracy to consume your time, phrase turning doesn’t seem a strength.

    2. Samantha forgets the President was elected and though many might criticize some of his eccentric actions most except the loony left accept him as President and fit. It is easy to understand that those thinking Israel controls US policy can also have a lot of strange and crazy ideas about the world around them. It is fun, however, to listen to some of these loony statements.

    3. Wait. Did you say Israeli interference? Where were you on 9/11 when the Saudis were induced into executing a fake attack (Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth say it is physically impossible for planes to have precisely demolished the WTC) and framed for controlled demolitions (conducted by the Israelis) of the World Trade Center, and the buildings “collapsed” precisely within their
      “footprints?” How much blood and treasure did America spend for the benefit of Israel? Osama bin Laden was the “patsy” just like Lee Harvey Oswald.

    4. a great idea. great as in large, largely foolish. let the AG employees investigate the boss even more than already.

      that will work until the boss is a Dem then the employees better do their jobs and not step out of their lane

  13. If Whitaker’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation, then Mueller’s appointment definitely did not require Senate confirmation. That means that Andrew Miller’s challenge to Mueller’s subpoena will be overruled and Concord Management’s challenge to Mueller’s authority to indict them will also be overruled.

    If Whitaker has no conflict of interest for having interviewed with Don McGahn and Gen. John Kelly to join Trump’s legal defense team back in June of 2017, then Mueller definitely has no conflict of interest for having interviewed for Comey’s job before being appointed special counsel. (Maybe Trump should have had McGahn and Kelly interview Mueller for a position on Trump’s legal defense team before Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel. That one really would have made Turley’s head spin like a top for days on end.)

    If Whitaker has no conflict of interest for having served as campaign manager for Sam Clovis in 2014, who, in turn, has testified before Mueller’s grand jury and who might face legal jeopardy from the special counsel’s investigation, then Rosenstein definitely has no conflict of interest for having done his job by writing a memo for Trump that was critical of Comey without mentioning the FBI’s Russia investigation as a pretext for firing Comey.

    It is probably not an accident that Whitaker is an invalid Acting Attorney General. It is probably Trump’s intention to appoint an invalid Acting Attorney General so that Donald Trump Jr. and who knows who all else can someday file motions to dismiss the charges against them on the basis that Whitaker’s appointment violates The Appointments Clause. In that way Trump doesn’t have to exercise his pardon power to preempt the indictment of Trump Jr. and who knows who all else. Of course, if the appellate courts refuse to dismiss those charges based on the invalidity of Whitaker’s appointment, then Trump would not be spared the consequences of exercising his pardon power preemptively.

    1. From the Wikipedia entry on Matt Whitaker:

      The New York Times reported on November 9, 2018, that Trump had seen Whitaker’s supportive commentaries on CNN in the summer of 2017, and in July White House counsel Don McGahn interviewed Whitaker to join Trump’s legal team as an “attack dog” against Robert Mueller, who was heading the Special Counsel investigation. The Times reported Trump associates believe Whitaker was later hired to limit the fallout of the investigation, including by reining in any Mueller report and preventing Trump from being subpoenaed.

      [end excerpt]

      So Trump has finally gotten his “Roy Cohn” in Matt Whitaker whom McGahn interviewed in July of 2017 to join Trump’s legal defense team on Trump’s instructions because Trump had seen Whitaker attacking Mueller on CNN. Meanwhile, Turley is still nattering on about Rosenstein’s conflict of interest. Pshaw! Is the Attorney General of the United States supposed to be The President’s “Roy Cohn”?????

  14. I think Jeff should run for President in 2020. Not as a RepubliCon but as an Independent. Perhaps form a Sessions Party. When in Session Go To Confession. I used to think he was an odd duck. But he quacks quite well. Trump needs to retire. He is getting old.

      1. About those “rival huddles” from the article linked above:

        Soon, the sources say, top Justice officials convened on the 5th floor suite of offices for the attorney general. Eventually, there were two huddles in separate offices. Among those in Sessions’ office was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, his deputy Ed O’Callaghan, Solicitor General Noel Francisco and Steven Engel, who heads the Office of Legal Counsel.

        A few yards away, Whitaker strategized with other aides, including Gary Barnett, now his chief of staff.

        [end exerpt]

        The Solicitor General has approved all of Mueller’s appellate filings including the sealed briefs for the so-called mystery appellant who is probably asserting executive privilege and who may be Gen John Kelly. The head of the Office of Legal Counsel advises The POTUS on many legal issues not the least of which would be The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. Both the Solicitor General and the head of the OLC were huddled with Sessions and Rosenstein on the day that Kelly “FIRED” Sessions. If Kelly turns out to be the mystery appellant trying to assert executive privilege to quash a subpoena to testify before Mueller’s grand jury, then the Sessions did not “RESIGN” and Whitaker’s appointment as Acting Attorney General cannot be “LEGAL”.

          1. Happy Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month to you, Mespo727272. What will Trump and Putin have for lunch besides Mueller’s grand jury information?

            P. S. Did you read Rosenstein’s remarks at the investiture of U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger? [I linked to it at the top of the page currently] There’s some sort of hidden message about “the importance of the signed commission” as it relates to Marshall’s decision in Marbury versus Madison. They say that Whitaker thinks Marshall decided that case incorrectly. It’s all lawyer talk to me. You figure it out. Or not.

    1. excerpted from the article linked above:

      The rival huddles, which haven’t been previously reported, laid bare a break in the relationship between Sessions and Whitaker that had emerged in recent weeks, after it became clear that Whitaker played a behind-the-scenes role in an aborted effort to oust Rosenstein.

      A source close to Sessions says that the former attorney general realized that Whitaker was “self-dealing” after reports surfaced in September that Whitaker had spoken with Kelly and had discussed plans to become the No. 2 at the Justice Department if Rosenstein was forced to resign.

      In recent months, with his relationship with the President at a new low, Sessions skipped several so-called principals meetings that he was slated to attend as a key member of the Cabinet. A source close to Sessions says that neither the attorney general nor Trump thought it was a good idea for Sessions to be at the White House, so he sent surrogates. Whitaker was one of them.

      But Sessions did not realize Whitaker was having conversations with the White House about his future until the news broke in late September about Rosenstein.

      [end exerpt]

      The aborted attempt to oust Rosenstein was the business about Rosenstein sarcastically asking McGabe if Andy wanted Rosenstein to wear a wire while talking with Trump. That business was memorialized by McGabe. Matt Whitaker had access to McGabe’s memos. Matt Whitaker may have leaked McGabe’s memos to The New York Times in a self-dealing effort to oust and to replace Rosenstein. When that didn’t work, Whitaker started angling for Sessions’ job, instead. There is now beaucoup turmoil in Trump’s Justice Department. And Whitaker may not hold his current post for very long.

  15. This is one more reason why I believe the attorney general should be an independently elected, non-partisan position.

      1. Beggars (moochers and looters) would ride. Until the Animal Rights Fanatics objected then they would be walking again.

    1. How about the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of DHS, the Secretary of Treasury as well. oh yes and Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Then start up to Department of State meaning the 50 States voted on by the 50 Governors as their conduit to the President. No need for the Representatives they have a Speaker of the House and the part about State approval doesn’t apply to them.
      Ahh yes Interior. the rest are inconsequential and can be done away with.

      Easy. It’s called the Amendment process. Just takes getting the couch potatoes away from the toob.

    2. Darren:
      So you want a Democrat AG in a Republican Administration. What could possibly go wrong?
      The founders were smart politicians — emphasis on “politicians.”

    3. A possible alternative to the current system would be to dissolve the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security and set up several successor Departments

      1. The Bureau of Prisons and the detention services of other agencies would be constituted in a new department whose chief would serve at the pleasure of the president.

      2. The investigatory, patrol, and security services in both departments (as well as their analogues in five or six other departments) would be sorted between three departments: one for civil defense and disaster relief; one for security services on the border and on federal property (which would include dignitary protection) appended to which would be a corps to enforce court orders &c; and one for investigations, inspections, common databases, forensics, and assistance to state and local law enforcement. Each department head would serve at the pleasure of the president.

      3. The trusteeship program and foreign claims settlement are appended to the court system, serve standard terms, and be cumbersome to fire.

      4. Representation of the United States as defendant and friend of the court, as well as legal advisory services for the government would be assigned to a new agency whose chief serves at the pleasure of the president.

      5. Representation of the United States as plaintiff would be assigned to a new agency appended to the judicial branch. This would include the bulk of those employed by the U.S. Attorneys and the division chiefs of the Department of Justice. The occupants would serve standard terms (4 years) and be cumbersome to fire

      Each of these departments and agencies would have an inspector-general. The inspector-general would be appointed for the president for an irregular term and be cumbersome to fire. He and all his employees would be over 55 by law and expected to serve until retirement.

    4. Darren, though sympathetic with your rationale it doesn’t seem like a good idea. Legislation is supposed to be created and passed by Congress which probably should be the most powerful of the three branches. That is where all political ideas are represented. The executive branch either agrees or disagrees and can be overruled. I cannot see the rational behind limiting the President’s plenerary powers to appoint those working for the executive branch.

      Many of our problems today, IMO, stem from the fact that our elected Congressional officials are more interested in being reelected than in appropriately legislating. Therefore, they hope to legislate from the bench or provide the President with more power than justified. Therefore, rather than attacking the problem by diminishing the executive branch we should solve the problem by strenghtening the legislative branch and in part can do so by passing term limits.

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