So much of the drama of the last three years of the Trump administration is about the conflict between the Constitution, which requires political oversight of the bureaucracy, and the Resistance’s strongly held view that political oversight of the administrative state is evil.
The Russia collusion hoax was perpetrated by bureaucrats who admitted they were motivated by a a belief that their foreign policy vision was more appropriate and legitimate than the one chosen by the American people when they elected Donald Trump to be their president.
Likewise, the Ukraine impeachment effort was ginned up by a group of bureaucrats who wished that President Trump had followed their “interagency consensus” rather than his foreign policy vision. And the latest Resistance-created drama is about whether Attorney General William Barr should continue to let agents do outlandish things as part of their now-debunked Russia collusion theory or exercise any oversight whatsoever.
This much has been obvious to anyone who watches the news. But Chuck Todd said it explicitly while interviewing Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., on “Meet The Press Daily” on MSNBC yesterday.
“Are we at the point where we can not trust a political appointee to be in charge of Justice?” he suggested to the senator. Even Whitehouse, who is fairly extreme in his day-to-day life, dismissed the suggestion.
The context is that disgruntled attorneys from the Robert Mueller special counsel recommended that Roger Stone by imprisoned for seven to nine years for lying to Congress and witness tampering. The notorious dirty trickster had apparently lied to Congress about something that was legal, and then encouraged a friend to not hurt him when he testified. A jury led by a rabid partisan and Russia collusion truther with open and sustained hostility to the Trump administration (really!) found him guilty a few months ago.
The decision to prosecute the case was a curious one, since it’s not common to prosecute someone for lying to Congress, particularly with no underlying crime. The FBI and Justice Department have come under fire for allowing political friends to skate without charges for false statements while nailing political foes for lesser and less consequential problems.
Prosecuting was one thing. Getting a guilty verdict thanks to a highly partisan jury was another. But recommending that the 67-year-old man with no prior convictions and not considered a risk for violence be sentenced to nine years in prison was another thing entirely.
The disgruntled Mueller attorneys misled Department of Justice officials about their sentencing plans. When the political leadership learned of the egregious recommendation, they filed a new memo saying, sanely, vaguely, and mildly, that they now recommended fewer than the seven to nine years.
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