The Ses­sions ses­sions

Will the at­tor­ney gen­eral rise above again?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

“With the ex­cep­tion of the late, great Abra­ham Lin­coln, I can be more pres­i­den­tial than any pres­i­dent that’s ever held this of­fice.” — Pres­i­dent Trump, Tues­day

Few peo­ple, we ex­pect, thought the pres­i­dent of the United States would sud­denly de­velop a mod­icum of class or a bit of deco­rum once in of­fice. Old dogs, new tricks and all that. A per­son isn’t go­ing to change over­much af­ter the age of 70. So the vot­ers are get­ting what they asked for, good and hard.

This week alone, the pres­i­dent used a speech in front of the Boy Scouts — the Boy Scouts — to rail against en­e­mies, real and imag­ined. He went on yet an­other daybreak Twit­ter tear Tues­day morn­ing, fir­ing at all tar­gets, in­clud­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton, her emails (re­mem­ber them?), leak­ers, the FBI, the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor, health-care re­form hold­outs, col­lu­sion al­le­ga­tions, the EU, and even brought his own youngest son into the mix while com­plain­ing about me­dia cov­er­age of the lat­est scan­dal. (“Jared Kush­ner did very well yes­ter­day in prov­ing he did not col­lude with the Rus­sians. Witch hunt. Next up, 11 year old Bar­ron Trump!”)

One sus­pects that few vot­ers in Novem­ber thought that a Pres­i­dent Trump would turn into Michael Caine af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion — but voted for him just the same. Drain the swamp. Build the wall. Re­peal and re­place. Amer­i­cans wanted that bull in the china shop. A gen­tle­man might have more trou­ble ful­fill­ing those cam­paign prom­ises.

Speak­ing of cam­paign prom­ises, the pres­i­dent said he would sur­round him­self by the best peo­ple. Or as he might put it, the very, very best, won­der­ful great peo­ple. And that prom­ise, it turns out, he has kept.

The other day, some­body asked if we could imag­ine a Pres­i­dent Ru­bio ap­point­ing Betsy DeVos to run the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion. (An­swer: No.) Or a Pres­i­dent Ka­sich hir­ing Rex Tiller­son at State. Or a Pres­i­dent Bush III nom­i­nat­ing James “Mad Dog” Mat­tis for De­fense sec­re­tary. The cur­rent Cab­i­net might have the most po­ten­tial since Rea­gan’s.

That is, if this pres­i­dent can keep it to­gether. His Cab­i­net and his psy­che.

This pres­i­dent talks a lot about loy­alty. But it’s all one-way. He de­mands it. He doesn’t re­turn it. He has now be­gun the push to force his at­tor­ney gen­eral to quit be­cause said at­tor­ney gen­eral did the pru­dent thing in re­cus­ing from a probe to avoid a con­flict of in­ter­est. Or even the ap­pear­ance of it. (“. . . . Since I had in­volve­ment with the [Trump] cam­paign I should not be in­volved in any cam­paign in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”) Be­ing a gen­tle­man and a le­gal scholar, Jeff Ses­sions did what a gen­tle­man and a le­gal scholar would do.

We were re­minded how cool un­der fire Jeff Ses­sions was back in June when he ap­peared be­fore the U.S. Se­nate Judiciary Com­mit­tee to dis­cuss this Rus­sian af­fair. He cer­tainly rose above many of those on the com­mit­tee, who tried to trip him up in var­i­ous ways. We thought at the time that if any­thing can sur­prise us in pol­i­tics these days, it would sur­prise if Jeff Ses­sions turned out not to be an hon­est man.

It would sur­prise us still.

There’s not much sub­tle about this pres­i­dent. Over the last few weeks he took to Twit­ter to de­nounce Gen­eral Ses­sions’ re­cusal. Then smeared him in an in­ter­view with the New York Times. Then used a news con­fer­ence Tues­day to push the AG even fur­ther un­der the bus. Then took to Twit­ter again. The As­so­ci­ated Press was re­port­ing late Tues­day that the pres­i­dent and his peo­ple were talk­ing about the best way to get rid of the for­mer sen­a­tor from Alabama.

And re­place him with who? Rudy Gi­u­liani, who told the pa­pers this week that Jeff Ses­sions did the right thing when he stepped aside from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Ted Cruz? Af­ter the smears of the 2016 cam­paign and his non-en­dorse­ment at the con­ven­tion? This pres­i­dent doesn’t for­get slights, even when he should.

Our con­sid­ered ed­i­to­rial opin­ion: Jeff Ses­sions has shown noth­ing but re­spect for the law in of­fice, has been a law-and-or­der at­tor­ney gen­eral, did the right thing by re­cus­ing from the cam­paign in­ves­ti­ga­tion, is con­sid­ered one of the more hon­est men in Wash­ing­ton these days, and de­serves to be treated with more dig­nity than this.

The other day, the pres­i­dent men­tioned how pres­i­den­tial he could be. Here’s a chance to prove it. He could start by giv­ing up Twit­ter and pub­lic in­sults.

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