The Trump ‘presidency’ seems to become more and more bizarre by the day. However, now that the Trump administration has been in place for a few months, its ethos is becoming clearer.
Desiree Fairooz was arrested by police for a couple of seconds of laughter during the public confirmation hearings of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Fairooz laughed at Alabama Senator’s comment that Sessions record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented”1. Given Sessions’ record, I probably would have burst out laughing too. In 1986, Sessions had his judicial nomination to be a judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of Alabama knocked back, and this was only the second time this had happened in 50 years. At the hearings, Sessions admitted, that he had been “loose with [his] tongue” and his knockback came because of numerous statements in which Sessions had accused assorted black and other organisations (e.g. NAACP) of being ‘un-American’ and ‘Communist-inspired’, he was accused of calling a black colleague ‘boy’ and a white colleague “a disgrace to his race”. He also changed his testimony between hearings2.
Veteran Public News Service journalist Dan Heyman was arrested after walking alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and repeated asking him the question ‘whether domestic violence would be considered a pre-existing condition’. Price did not say anything, so Heyman kept asking the question while holding his phone up near Price to record any answer. He was pulled aside, handcuffed and arrested. Heyman was jailed but later released on $5,000 bail. Heyman was wearing a press pass, had the logo of his employer on his shirt and had identified himself as a reporter. Prior to his arrest, he had not been warned that he was supposedly in the wrong place, and he had done nothing out of the ordinary. The American Civil Liberties Union called the charges ‘outrageous’ and demanded that they be dropped3.
Director of the FBI, James Comey, first heard about his sacking while in Los Angeles. Television screens began flashing the news that he had been sacked while he was speaking to FBI staff. It is suspected that he originally thought it was a joke or a mistake, but it was later confirmed when Trump’s letter was delivered to FBI headquarters in Washington. Attorney General Sessions, who was forced to recuse himself from overseeing the FBI investigation into Russian connections with the Trump campaign, was the person who recommended Comey be sacked. And Comey was the person leading the investigation which Sessions was forced to recuse himself from4.
Preetinder (Preet) Bharara was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009, until sacked by Attorney General Sessions. Bharara had a reputation as a crusading prosecutor and one of the nation’s most aggressive and outspoken prosecutors of public corruption and Wall Street crime5. Bharara had been led to believe, after conversations with Trump and Sessions, that he would retain his position, but it seems likely that his sacking was in part because of his investigation into Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, for trading hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies while he was in Congress, working on legislation affecting such firms. This came up at his confirmation hearing and Price stated that the trades were lawful. However, it was suspected by some that he had violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act 2012. An investigation into these trades was underway at the time of Bharara’s sacking6.
Then Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to defend Trump’s executive order banning entry for people from seven Muslim-majority countries. She has control over the Justice Department’s Immigration Litigation Office, which has handled the federal complaints filed against Trump’s executive orders. As she said in a letter to Justice Department lawyers “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right”. She added “At present I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.” Within three hours she was sacked. She proved to be correct in her assessment that the Muslim bans were unconstitutional and not legally defensible7,8.
These all indicate that the Trump administration is not only unintelligent as a group, because the sackings have only served to increase interest in the investigation into the Russia affair, but that they are also exceptionally thin-skinned. In addition, they do not seem to understand that people like Sally Yates are sworn to uphold the Constitution and not kowtow to some lying narcissistic president or a lying attorney general. I also imagine that Donald Trump is unaware that, when taking the oath of office, he also swore to protect the constitution. Despite this, he seems almost enthusiastic in his drive to violate it, whether it be the emoluments clause or the establishment clause. The Trump presidency, like that of Putin, is essentially a kleptocracy.
All US Senators and Representatives, upon taking office, swear to support and defend the Constitution. Maybe they should read their oath of office again. They seem to have forgotten what it means.