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A one-man assault on the rule of law

Ruth Marcus on

This country also has mechanisms, well-honed and well-tested, for dealing with situations where criminal investigations are warranted. They require recusal in cases that pose a clear conflict of interest, as Sessions recognized in immediately walling himself off from any Clinton investigation and eventually accepted in recusing himself from the Russia probe.

They set out procedures for the White House to follow in dealings with the Department of Justice involving criminal proceedings, designed, as then-Attorney General Eric Holder explained, to ensure that prosecutors are "impartial and insulated from political influence."

Such niceties are not for Trump. No surprise there, but the worst of his West Virginia speech was yet to come. Trump followed by impugning the Mueller investigation as an illegitimate effort to undo the election results: "They can't beat us at the voting booths, so they're trying to cheat you out of the ... future that you want. They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us, and most importantly demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution."

Trademark Trump. He takes the very thing that he is doing -- in this case, demeaning the Constitution -- and flings that accusation back at his opponent. Trump's campaign and now his presidency have been an unceasing effort to demean the Constitution. From "fake news" to "so-called" judges, from his ill-considered travel ban to encouraging police officers' roughing up of suspects, Trump is a one-man assault on the rule of law.

Inciting supporters to equate a criminal investigation (and potential prosecution) with a usurpation of their democratic choice is the most chilling yet. What Trump decries as a witch hunt is an authorized investigation being conducted pursuant to Justice Department rules, by an experienced prosecutor, selected for this job by another experienced prosecutor, who was nominated by Trump himself. That Trump and his allies are scheming to undermine Mueller's legitimacy underscores that their sole goal is retaining power, the law be damned.

Some readers have asked a fair and important question: Why is nearly every column of mine about Trump? The answer is: Trump. His behavior is so extreme and so dangerous that to respond only episodically and occasionally is to risk allowing it to appear acceptable. Outrageous words and outrageous actions require expressions of outrage in return, each and every time. That will continue until the danger subsides.

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Ruth Marcus' email address is ruthmarcus@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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