Hugh Hewitt, who for very brief periods of time manages to pretend not to be an idiot on MSNBC, thinks he has the perfect person to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions when Trump inevitably fires him (via Twitter, of course, because Trump is a coward who can’t fire someone face to face). His preferred replacement: J. Michael Luttig.
Most of you probably don’t know who that is, but we con law geeks do. He’s a former federal judge who was on George W. Bush’s very short list for Supreme Court nominations, along with Roberts and Alito. If Bush had gotten a third crack at nominating a justice, it would likely have been Luttig. He’s conservative, but highly respected and mostly consistent in his views — an intellectual conservative rather than a plainly partisan Republican. He stepped down from the federal bench about ten years ago and is now the general counsel for Boeing. He wouldn’t be a bad choice, actually, but not for the reasons Hewitt thinks. And he almost certainly would not be someone Trump would want in that position.
But first, Hewitt says that while Rod Rosenstein would ordinarily be a good choice to move up one spot and become AG, that would not be wise now because he’s lost the confidence of Congress.
The Russia investigation and the parallel investigation into the bureau’s conduct during the 2016 election would have taxed the most able of veteran “wise man” lawyers like former White House counsel Fred Fielding or the late Judge Abner Mikva. Rosenstein is a prosecutor thrust into politics. And while he may yet win back the confidence of Congress, he does not currently have it. That’s not a good situation for a bureau looking to restore its bipartisan reputation, nor for a Justice Department on which every American relies to buttress the courts in defending the rule of law and the Constitution.
I don’t know whether this is naivete or just plain dishonesty by Hewitt, but I suspect the latter. Rosenstein hasn’t lost the confidence of Congress, he’s lost the confidence of the Republicans in Congress (some of them; not all of them). And he’s lost that confidence precisely because he has upheld the rule of law when it comes to the Mueller investigation and worked to prevent them and Trump from undermining Mueller’s independence, if not get rid of him completely.
Then he starts advocating for Luttig:
He’s a tough man, Michael Luttig. Those acquainted with the facts of his father’s murder and the judge’s personal journey through the horror that always accompanies losing a parent, spouse or child to violence will understand that makes him uniquely qualified to superintend the Justice Department — not because he is a victim but because he knows that victims of all sorts of crime need the rule of law to serve them as well as protect the rights of the accused.
Trump needs at Justice a person of unquestioned capacity and character, a charismatic leader, and one very smart lawyer, capable of talking straight to Congress and the president, unafraid of an unrelentingly hostile media. Trump needs an attorney general who can testify without blinking, command the Justice Department’s vast resources after thorough analysis and bring both the department and the FBI back to the pinnacle of esteem they have enjoyed in their best of times.
Again, this really can only be dishonesty. How could Hewitt possibly not recognize that the only reason the DOJ and the FBI are no longer held in such high esteem is because of Trump’s relentless and self-serving attacks on them? The only ones who are attacking the FBI and the DOJ are Trump and his followers and sycophants, and they do so solely out of a desire to protect him against any accountability for his own actions. Trump’s attacks on those institutions is calculated to protect him. Why in the world would he want an AG who made them more respected? Hewitt can’t possibly be this naive, it has to be just plain old-fashioned dishonesty on his part.
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