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Donald Trump's Jeff Sessions tweet shows how far we've fallen

On Monday afternoon, ...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 6:54 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 6:54 PM

On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted this:

"Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff......"

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Trump is referring to the indictments of New York Rep. Chris Collins and California Rep. Duncan Hunter by the Justice Department on charges of insider trading and misuse of campaign funds, respectively.

Let's count all the ways this is wrong.

1. The Collins indictment deals with advice he allegedly gave to his son to sell off a stock in June 2017, and the Collins indictment came down in August 2018. That is not the in the "Obama era." (The investigation into Hunter began in April 2016 -- at the tail end of the "Obama era"; but the actual indictment came in August 2018.)

2. Trump is alleging the Justice Department -- which is run by his handpicked Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- purposely brought these indictments in the middle of the midterm elections to jeopardize the GOP's chances. (Reminder: The Justice Department is run by Republican appointees.)

3. Trump takes issue with criminal charges because they take "two easy wins" in two GOP-leaning districts and turn them into potentially competitive seats. (Collins retired amid the hubbub over his charges; Hunter has vowed to continue running.)

4. The President of the United States snarkily attacks his own attorney general for doing a "good job."

It's hard -- amid all of the norm-busting that Trump has done since he announced for president in June 2015 -- to register any real shock over anything he says or tweets these days. He's adjusted expectations downward so drastically that everything he says or does produces a sigh and a shrug from most of the public.

But just by way of context, let me take you back to the summer of 2009, when, following the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a new-on-the-job President Barack Obama said that the Cambridge police had "acted stupidly" in arresting a man who had clear evidence he was trying to enter his own home.

Obama was castigated by Republicans for turning the episode into a racial one (Gates is black) and for questioning the police for simply doing their job. Within 48 hours, Obama was apologizing -- saying he wished he had "calibrated" his words differently. Within days after that, Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Gates and the arresting officer (who was white) were sitting at the White House -- the so-called "Beer Summit."

All of that happened because the President of the United States said a local police force had "acted stupidly" in arresting a guy trying to get into his own house.

Now, fast-forward to the present. What we have here -- regardless of your party affiliation -- is this: The President of the United States is openly questioning the indictments of two sitting Republican members of Congress by a Republican-led Justice Department. He is doing so potentially because those two members of Congress were the first two members of Congress to support Trump's presidential bid but definitely because the indictments jeopardize his party's chances in the fall election.

That -- THAT -- is how far we have come in the space of less than a decade. And what is even more remarkable is that while a handful of congressional Republicans voiced their disapproval with Trump's views -- the usual suspects like Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) -- most tried to ignore the tweet, which CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Tuesday "may be an impeachable offense."

Whether or not Republicans acknowledge what is right in front of their faces, this much is plain: The current President of the United States sees the Justice Department as an appendage of his own political operation. His public statements suggest he believes the job of the attorney general is twofold: 1) punish the President's political enemies and b) go easy on the President's friends. The Monday tweet makes this reality inarguable. (As do the legion of tweets Trump has directed at Sessions, insisting that the special counsel probe into Russia interference is "illegal" -- it's not -- and demanding the Justice Department look into alleged crimes committed by Hillary Clinton.)

"Will DJT never learn that an attorney general's job is not to play goalie for a president or his party, or any party for that matter?" tweeted conservative commentator Brit Hume, hitting the nail on the head.

The answer to that question is, of course, a resounding "no."

Which means that in the space of a decade, we have gone from Republicans castigating a Democratic president for suggesting the local police had acted wrongly in arresting a man trying to enter his home to Republicans largely sitting in silence while a Republican President bashes his own Justice Department for charging GOP congressmen for allegedly breaking the law because doing so is politically inconvenient. And possibly because the two members of Congress facing indictments have been long and loyal supporters of his.

That's a hell of a long way to travel.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 601937

Reported Deaths: 9593
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion831111322
Lake44972678
Allen32498545
Hamilton29039315
St. Joseph27133380
Elkhart24291343
Vanderburgh19160246
Tippecanoe17799130
Johnson14871292
Porter14631167
Hendricks14188247
Madison10851219
Vigo10636178
Clark10520137
Monroe9299110
Delaware9055134
LaPorte8972160
Howard8134142
Kosciusko800382
Warrick665197
Hancock6575103
Bartholomew637999
Floyd6322109
Wayne6076161
Grant5937113
Dubois552578
Boone544967
Morgan530594
Henry503464
Marshall499884
Cass478663
Dearborn470745
Noble468357
Jackson420747
Shelby410781
Lawrence387478
Clinton370642
Gibson365559
DeKalb344264
Montgomery340754
Harrison340544
Knox333139
Miami317344
Steuben311545
Whitley301725
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White270340
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Jefferson257938
Fayette245148
Decatur244883
Greene238162
Posey236927
Wells233350
LaGrange226361
Scott221838
Clay220932
Randolph212148
Jennings195836
Sullivan190833
Spencer188019
Fountain182127
Washington182022
Starke174443
Jay166322
Owen162837
Fulton162330
Orange156333
Carroll155415
Rush153318
Perry151227
Vermillion147334
Franklin146933
Tipton130932
Parke13018
Pike115626
Blackford110522
Pulaski96137
Newton90521
Brown86833
Benton85910
Crawford7839
Martin72313
Warren6757
Switzerland6455
Union6227
Ohio4787
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 849704

Reported Deaths: 10518
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100046706
Cuyahoga845231068
Hamilton63092447
Montgomery42660405
Summit34405754
Lucas31041611
Butler30546229
Stark25443429
Warren19436140
Lorain18767223
Mahoning17163337
Lake15882153
Clermont15697110
Delaware1422678
Licking13067137
Trumbull12680313
Fairfield1262180
Greene11915136
Medina11439167
Clark10802265
Wood10230158
Allen9774126
Portage9163107
Miami907373
Richland9035117
Marion7420113
Tuscarawas7280179
Columbiana7263124
Pickaway719550
Wayne6954169
Muskingum690741
Erie6090127
Hancock547590
Ross543487
Scioto533664
Geauga501155
Darke465591
Ashtabula449373
Lawrence447053
Union444928
Sandusky433062
Mercer432088
Huron423541
Seneca423465
Auglaize419662
Shelby419421
Jefferson415469
Belmont411240
Washington383340
Athens37379
Putnam372674
Madison349929
Knox347922
Ashland342538
Fulton335243
Defiance327782
Crawford319472
Preble318437
Brown307121
Logan304132
Ottawa289243
Clinton286643
Williams275866
Highland271818
Jackson261345
Guernsey249825
Champaign249328
Fayette234429
Morrow23014
Perry228318
Holmes222864
Henry216849
Hardin210133
Coshocton203521
Van Wert200545
Gallia194726
Wyandot193851
Pike172417
Adams172015
Hocking169824
Carroll153216
Paulding143221
Noble119940
Meigs106823
Monroe100331
Harrison87821
Morgan82229
Vinton68913
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