by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
We live in an era when political role models are hard to find, integrity is at a premium, and it’s exceedingly difficult to find people or institutions who seem willing to put country over party, to set aside the powerful pull of tribalism and self-interest and fulfill their oaths of office. In the aftermath of yet another dramatic week in Washington, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there are two men in the Trump administration who are doing all that reasonable men and women could ask to both carry out the lawful agenda of the president and fulfill their ultimate duty to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Those two men are Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Let’s consider the events of just the past two weeks. After withering left-wing criticism of Session’s decision to fire former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, an inspector general’s report emerged that vindicated the attorney general. Yes, McCabe did lie — and he lied repeatedly — about leaking to a Wall Street Journal reporter during the closing days of the 2016 presidential election. McCabe deserved to be fired. He may even deserve to be prosecuted.
This vindication came days after Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein reportedly approved an FBI raid on the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. The Cohen raid was said to have resulted from a referral by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who uncovered evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing connected to Cohen’s payouts to a Playboy playmate and a porn star who claim to have had affairs with Trump. As Trump reacted furiously, the Washington Post reported that Sessions told White House counsel Donald McGahn that he might resign if Trump fired Rosenstein — a principled stand that is exactly right for a political appointee. Sessions serves at the pleasure of the president, but he can leave whenever he so chooses, and if the demands of the job conflict with the oath of office and/or the dictates of his conscience, he should leave.
The role played by Sessions and Rosenstein in these recent events is of a piece with their conduct throughout the Trump presidency.