Thursday, May 11, 2017

Just to harken back... Monday (yes, three days ago!).  I was listening to "1A" on NPR and I have a fleeting memory of someone mentioning that Rod Rosenstein's reputation was sterling on Monday, and today it's dirt.  Josh Marshall calls this the "Trump Dignity Loss Event Horizon," because once you cross it you become a "wraith."  Exhibit A in this is Chris Christie, once the darling of the East Coast media, now a complete non-entity even though he occasionally shows up in Trump's orbit (and what did that get him?).

The New York Times has been hammering the same point:

Until two days ago, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had an enviable reputation as a straight-shooting law-enforcement official respected by members of both parties. Then he decided that he was willing to help President Trump tamper with an investigation into his presidential campaign.

Not once, but twice:

Given the sterling reputation you brought into this post — including a 27-year career in the Justice Department under five administrations, and the distinction of being the longest-serving United States attorney in history — you no doubt feel a particular anguish, and obligation to act. As the author of the memo that the president cited in firing Mr. Comey, you are now deeply implicated in that decision.


You must also know that in ordering you to write the memo, Mr. Trump exploited the integrity you have earned over nearly three decades in public service, spending down your credibility as selfishly as he has spent other people’s money throughout his business career. We can only hope that your lack of an explicit recommendation to fire Mr. Comey reflects your own refusal to go as far as the president wanted you to.
The point is, Donald Trump is the tar baby:  touch him, and you are stuck to him.  Rod Rosenstein, the man of sterling reputation, is now Robert Bork, the solicitor general who carried out Nixon's demands one Saturday night in 1973.  But I come not to bury Rosenstein, but to praise Yates.

Sally Yates is what integrity in public office and public life looks like.  She was pilloried in some quarters for her insubordination that supposedly led to her firing.  We now know she was fired for entirely different reasons, and she made it convenient for Trump because, more publicly than Comey did, she refused his loyalty test.  She was right to do so; Rod Rosenstein was wrong to carry out the bidding of his President.

And if he is upset now, about it (JMM thinks it unlikely, and I do, too), he has no one to blame but himself.  Frankly, an unsourced news story that he would have had the courage of his convictions, or at least the mettle to preserve his reputation, he coulda shoulda woulda!, is far too little far too late.  You can flush your reputation with a single act.  Sally Yates showed us there are better consequences to being true to your principles than being true to your employer.

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