Loyalism v. Integrity

Loyalism v. Integrity August 30, 2018

President Trump started calling his Attorney General Jeff Sessions “beleaguered” months ago. Now it’s actually true. Trump made it true.

Republican leaders are plotting with Trump to replace Sessions after the mid-term elections.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., has raised questions about the sincerity of Sessions’s commitment to Trump’s agenda. “He’s not on the President’s team,” Falwell says.

Sessions, a long-time Alabama Senator, can’t depend on support back home any more. The Alabama Congressional delegation has stopped defending him.

Trump and everyone connected with him wants the Russia investigation to go away. Getting rid of Sessions is the cleanest way to get that done.

Trump does a lot of outrageous things. But when he humiliates Sessions, it makes my Alabama blood boil. And I’m a transplant to Alabama.

Sessions left a secure Senate seat to throw his weight behind a long-shot candidate. Was this opportunism?

As Fred Barnes has pointed out, no one in Trump’s administration has advanced Trump’s agenda more effectively than Sessions. Is this disloyalty?

Of course Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation. He had been implicated as a possible target of investigation. Was this cowardice?

Sessions insists that the Department of Justice will enforce the law without bowing to political pressure. How did this become controversial?

I don’t defend Sessions because I share all his priorities or views. I’m skeptical that his law-and-order agenda will be an effective response to crime. Immigration law is a mess, but I don’t believe that immigration poses a mortal threat to the Republic.

And I don’t defend Sessions merely because he’s from my home state.

Sessions should be defended because he’s a man of integrity. He takes the law as given and seeks to enforce it, thoroughly, toughly, impartially. He does his job, without fanfare, leaks, Tweets.

He lives by the old American axiom that we are a nation of laws not men.

One would have thought this is what Republicans would want from the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

Do GOP leaders want an AG who functions as the President’s personal attorney?

Does Falwell want to turn the federal government into an arm of the Trump Organization?

It’s no surprise that Trump doesn’t quite know what to do with a man who won’t bend to his whims or buckle under his insults. Loyalty to Trump is Trump’s own criterion for judging his Cabinet and staff. We’ve come to expect that.

But it’s alarming when loyalty to Trump becomes a guiding principle for the Republican Party and leaders on the Religious Right.

The internal battle at the DOJ, and in the Trump administration more generally, is loyalism v. integrity. If Trump wants to make America great, and not merely advance his personal cult, he should look for more people like Jeff Sessions to add to his team.

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