In a highly disturbing and inappropriate tweet, President Donald Trump retweeted an image that accused his own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, of treason as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI Director James Comey, former national intelligence director James Clapper, Bill and Hillary Clinton and others. The image is accompanied with the question “Now that Russia collusion is a proven lie, when do the trials for treason begin?” Such an image and question, even made in jest, would be deeply insulting and below the office of the presidency. The President has previously called the media “the enemy of the people” and used equally intolerant language toward judges. Regardless of how one feels about the Special Counsel investigation or the role of some of these people, people of good faith must speak out against such attacks on the character of these individuals. I have been a critic of some actions in this investigation and specifically Rosenstein’s conflict of interest, but I would never question their loyalty to this nation.
The image of the Deputy Attorney General behind bars must be deeply insulting for a man who has spent the entirety of his professional life as a public servant — and ironically was appointed to his office by President Trump. Likewise, I have been critical of aspects of Mueller’s selection but the use of treason in the context of this Marine veteran and lifelong public servant is neither funny nor fair. There has to be some basic level of civility and responsibility in this debate. There are legitimate objections to raise but this level of personal insult and incrimination has no place in our public discourse.