Monday

November 18th, 2019

Insight

An open letter to two former U.S. attorneys

Jennifer Rubin

By Jennifer Rubin

Published March 14, 2016

Dear Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions:

A joint open letter to you both seemed appropriate at this time in the evolution of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Before endorsing him, you both were widely respected by members of both parties. More relevant for current purposes, for both of you, the office of U.S. attorney was your first prominent political role.

Prosecutorial power is an awesome thing, I am sure you know, often restrained by nothing more than one's conscience. The decision to indict and try an accused person, take away his livelihood and his freedom, in many cases, is profound, as is the decision to seek justice for a victim or to refrain from doing so.

Although a political appointment, it requires one to evaluate facts dispassionately, fairly interpret the evidence, apply the relevant law regardless of the accused's party affiliation, wealth, religion, race or any other personal factor and then to vigorously represent, albeit confined by one's responsibility as an officer of the court, the people. It is the people whom you are sworn to protect from those would prey upon the innocent, directly or indirectly, perpetrate violence and manipulate the innocent for selfish and untoward purposes. You must be immune to public pressure, even anger and pursue justice as you see it.

You see where this is going, huh?

At the time you chose to endorse Trump, perhaps you did not know the extent of the concerns about Trump University (which, to be clear, is involved in a civil fraud case, not a criminal one). Perhaps you had not heard the personal stories of thousands of people who gave Trump thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on the promise that his hand-picked teachers would instruct them in "the art of the deal." But now you should know.

At the time you endorsed Trump, the incident concerning reporter Michelle Fields and Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had not occurred. Now, as you know, we have seen a female victim with physical evidence of violence. She has an eyewitness and both audio and video evidence confirming that she was manhandled by Trump's top aide. Lewandowski and then Trump smeared the victim, accusing her of making up the incident. Her only recourse is the police and the courts.

And finally at the time you endorsed Trump many of the recent instances of violence at his rallies had not occurred. Now, however, you must be aware that he often riles up crowd members, telling them, for example: "The audience hit back. That's what we need a little bit more of"; "In the good old days this doesn't happen because they used to treat them very, very rough"; "Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court, don't worry about it"; and "I'd like to punch him in the face." He now offers to pay the legal expenses of the supporter who sucker punched a peaceful protester. You've seen an increase in violence inside his rallies and most recently mobs form outside, which improperly prevent him from speaking and others from hearing him. It surely must have alarmed you.

Do you think, putting on your prosecutorial hat for a moment, you should be on Fields' side or on Trump's? Do you think you should be standing with the victims of Trump University or with Trump? Who deserves your sympathy -- a peaceful protester sucker-punched at a rally or the man exhorting his crowd to violence?

I suspect you have many former colleagues, friends, family members and constituents who are deeply disappointed, appalled even, that you stand with Trump and not the innocents who directly or indirectly have been harmed by Trump. At one time you could have claimed limited knowledge of Trump's behavior and character as an excuse for defending him. No more.

Do you really feel comfortable standing with Trump, vouching for him to become president of the United States? If you are not, stop enabling Trump to maintain his chokehold on mobs and on the party and to inch ever closer to the White House.

Understand that whatever you have done in your political career to date, nothing will so define you as your decision to help legitimize Trump. Just as you used to do, might you stand with victims and not their victimizer?

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