Saturday, March 11, 2017


In some ways, this purge is not unusual:
The Trump administration moved on Friday to sweep away most of the remaining vestiges of Obama administration prosecutors at the Justice Department, ordering 46 holdover United States attorneys to tender their resignations immediately — including Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan....

It is not unusual for a new president to replace United States attorneys appointed by a predecessor, especially when there has been a change in which party controls the White House.
But it was done in an abrupt and heavy-handed way:
One senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect the identity of the United States attorney in that state, said that an Obama-appointed prosecutor had been instructed to vacate the office by the end of the day.

Although it was not clear whether all were given the same instructions, that United States attorney was not the only one told to clear out by the close of business. The abrupt nature of the dismissals distinguished Mr. Trump’s mass firing from Mr. Clinton’s, because the prosecutors in 1993 were not summarily told to clear out their offices.

Michael D. McKay, who was the United States attorney in Seattle under the George Bush administration, recalled that even though he had already made plans to leave, he nevertheless stayed on for about three weeks beyond a request by then-Attorney General Janet Reno for all of the holdover prosecutors to resign. He also recalled at least one colleague who was in the midst of a major investigation and was kept on to finish it.

“I’m confident it wasn’t on the same day,” he said, adding: “While there was a wholesale ‘Good to see you, thanks for your service, and now please leave,’ people were kept on on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation.”
And Preet Bharara seems to have been lied to:
The firings were a surprise — especially for Mr. Bharara, who has a reputation for prosecuting public corruption cases and for investigating insider trading. In November, Mr. Bharara met with then President-elect Donald J. Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan and told reporters afterward that both Mr. Trump and Jeff Sessions, who is now the attorney general, had asked him about staying on, which the prosecutor said he expected to do.
It seems unlikely that every one of these attorneys is in the midst of one or more investigations that the Trump administration would like to curtail. It also seems unlikely that the administration had different plans for the U.S. attorneys but is responding to "drain the swamp" pressure from the likes of Sean Hannity.
... the calls from the acting deputy attorney general arose a day after Sean Hannity, the Fox News commentator who is a strong supporter of President Trump, said on his evening show that Mr. Trump needed to “purge” Obama holdovers from the federal government. Mr. Hannity portrayed them as “saboteurs” from the “deep state” who were leaking secrets to hurt Mr. Trump.
It's more likely that the whole scenario -- purge demands from Hannity and others, followed by the abrupt and unreasonable demands for immediate resignations, and the double-cross of Bharara -- were all part of the same stage-managed package.

Why do it this way? Why not insist that all the attorneys leave but do it in a considerate way, giving them time to tie up loose ends? Because the deplorables love it this way. It's pro wrestling -- you create a villain (in this case, holdovers from the previous administration), then you do something nasty to the villain, and the crowd goes wild. The nastiness of what you do to the villain is what makes it especially satisfying.

Look, this administration isn't going to wipe out ISIS. It isn't going to bring all the manufacturing jobs back. It won't give us better health insurance at a lower cost.

So how does it stay in power? By identifying enemies and then hurting them. By getting CNN to run headlines like this:
Anger mounts over handling of US attorney firings
Here's the headline at the right-wing site Twitchy:
YOU’RE FIRED: Donald Trump just told all 46 Obama-era US Attorneys to resign and Dems are LOSING IT
Anger mounts? Boo-ya! Democrats are LOSING IT? U-S-A! U-S-A!

If Trump can fill enough news cycles with headlines like this, he won't have to keep any of his campaign promises. The fan base will believe he's made America great again.

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