‘Ap­pren­tice’ meets the White House: AG, you’re fired

The Boyertown Area Times - - OPINION - Arthur Gar­ri­son

On Jan­uary 27 Pres­i­dent Trump is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to ad­dress the use of a visa sys­tem used by refugees from the Syr­ian civil war. The back­drop of the or­der was his elec­tion state­ment on Dec.7, 2015 in which he called “for a to­tal and com­plete shut­down of Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States un­til our coun­try’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives can fig­ure out what the hell is go­ing on.”

In his ex­ec­u­tive or­der Trump or­dered that “to pre­vent in­fil­tra­tion by for­eign ter­ror­ists or crim­i­nals . . . I hereby pro­claim that the im­mi­grant and non­im­mi­grant en­try into the United States of aliens from [Iraq, Syria, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Yemen, and Iran] would be detri­men­tal to the in­ter­ests of the United States, and I hereby sus­pend en­try into the United States, as im­mi­grants and non­im­mi­grants, of such per­sons for 90 days . . . I hereby pro­claim that the en­try of na­tion­als of Syria as refugees is detri­men­tal to the in­ter­ests of the United States and thus sus­pend any such en­try un­til such time as I have de­ter­mined . . . that ad­mis­sion of Syr­ian refugees is con­sis­tent with the na­tional in­ter­est.”

Dur­ing the fol­low­ing two days, more than one hun­dred visa hold­ing refugees, not to men­tion some le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents (hold­ers of green cards), were pre­vented from en­ter­ing the United States at air­ports and oth­ers were sent back to the coun­try of their ori­gin. Mas­sive demon­stra­tions in the ma­jor air­ports of the United States oc­curred. The po­lit­i­cal firestorm was com­pounded on the fol­low­ing Mon­day when the Act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral, a ca­reer fed­eral Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyer, is­sued a let­ter as­sert­ing that “as long as I am the Act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice will not present ar­gu­ments in de­fense of the Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der, un­less and un­til I be­come con­vinced that it is ap­pro­pri­ate to do so” be­cause she was not con­vinced the ex­ec­u­tive or­der was law­ful or that the “pol­icy choice em­bod­ied in [the] Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der is wise or just.” Trump had a let­ter sent to her that night say­ing, you’re fired.

The White House is­sued a press re­lease within an hour of her fir­ing stat­ing “act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral, Sally Yates, has be­trayed the Depart­ment of Jus­tice by re­fus­ing to en­force a le­gal or­der de­signed to pro­tect the cit­i­zens of the United States. This or­der was ap­proved as to form and le­gal­ity by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice Of­fice of Le­gal Coun­sel. Ms. Yates is an Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pointee who is weak on bor­ders and very weak on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. It is time to get se­ri­ous about pro­tect­ing our coun­try.”

Now let’s ad­mit some sim­ple truths. Elec­tions have con­se­quences and Amer­ica elected a re­al­ity TV star who made mil­lions of dol­lars on a show in which its sole ob­jec­tive was to have Don­ald Trump say to some­one, you’re fired.

Amer­ica elected a man who ran a cam­paign that was built on the premise that in Amer­ica the prob­lem was not that the gov­ern­ment was too big but that it was be­ing run by stupid peo­ple who did not know how to ne­go­ti­ate or get things done.

This “Mon­day Night Mas­sacre” at the Jus­tice Depart­ment is a har­bin­ger of what is to come.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral rep­re­sents the rule of law and gov­ern­ment sub­servience to it within the ex­ec­u­tive branch of gov­ern­ment. To fire an At­tor­ney Gen­eral be­cause she dis­agrees with the le­gal­ity of an ex­ec­u­tive or­der is no small mat­ter. What sep­a­rates the United States from some two-bit ba-

nana re­pub­lic is that the law and ex­ec­u­tive branch le­gal in­sti­tu­tions are more im­por­tant than any one per­son sit­ting in the White House. The law and the sys­tems of le­gal ad­min­is­tra­tion are not to be shaken up but are to be hon­ored as the sys­tem that makes gov­ern­ment sub­servient to the rule of law.

For more decades than Trump has been alive, the le­gal process of gov­ern­ment in­volv­ing a ma­jor pres­i­den­tial ex­ec­u­tive or­der is that it could not be is­sued with­out the At­tor­ney Gen­eral giv­ing le­gal ap­proval or at least com­men­tary prior to pub­li­ca­tion. More im­por­tantly, the opin­ion of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral that the or­der could not be legally de­fended in court would re­sult in the craft­ing of ad­just­ments to the or­der to meet the gen­eral’s con­cerns, not the is­suance a dis­missal let­ter.

Yet the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion found no prob­lem in is­su­ing the or­der with­out hav­ing it ap­proved by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral or even seen by his newly ap­pointed Sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity prior to its is­suance. Trump ran for the of­fice like a bull in china shop with the prom­ise to break the china and shake up the sys­tem of gov­ern­ment in Wash­ing­ton. Con­sider that Trump is­sued an or­der el­e­vat­ing a po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sor to per­ma­nent seat sta­tus on the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil while re­mov­ing the Chair­man of Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence from per­ma­nent mem­ber sta­tus of that com­mit­tee to sub­ject to in­vi­ta­tion sta­tus.

The sys­tem­atic shake ups of ex­ec­u­tive branch rule of law in­sti­tu­tions and the ig­nor­ing and iso­la­tion of na­tional in­tel­li­gence ca­reer civil ser­vice of­fi­cials is detri­men­tal to a re­pub­lic; but on Elec­tion Day Trump vot­ers did not con­sider or care about it. Nor do they care about it now. To them Trump is only shak­ing up self-en­ti­tled bu­reau­crats. His vot­ers pre­vailed and they are get­ting what the want.

Elec­tions have con­se­quences.

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