Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
The fix is in. That is the only conclusion one can draw from the retribution rants of President Donald Trump and the willing compliance of his consigliere, William Barr.
Gaining acquittal on impeachment charges from the complacent, obedient GOP caucus in the U.S. Senate has unleashed Trump to follow his worst, meanest instincts. He’s out to extract payback to everyone who has crossed him and even from those who simply failed to give him their unequivocal fealty. He will do everything he can to make life miserable for Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.
He has already extracted revenge from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Gordon Sondland by firing. Both had the audacity to go before the House Intelligence Committee, after being subpoenaed, to honestly testify about the president’s request for electoral assistance from the president of Ukraine.
Other witnesses are also being dismissed from the administration and humiliated, if possible, in the process. Even Eugene Vindman, twin brother of Alexander and also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was perp-walked out of the White House in retaliation for … what? He didn’t testify about Trump. He remained in the background, never running afoul, as far as the public knows, of Trump’s white-hot temper. This amounts to a tyrant’s “blood vengeance” against whole families.
Senate Republicans, who admitted that the evidence compiled by the House showed that Trump had used his powers to obstruct the House investigation and attempted to conceal his improper actions, claimed Trump had learned a lesson from the painful impeachment inquiry and would be on better behavior henceforth. The president’s retribution tour, just a week after his acquittal in the Senate, proves this president refuses to learn from his mistakes.
Having escaped punishment in the Senate, Trump is unleashed. All of his “enemies” are in danger from a president without restraints, a president who had earlier asserted that Article II of the Constitution gave him the authority to do whatever he wanted to do. (It does no such thing.) With its impeachment vote, the Republican majority in the Senate removed the last restraint within the federal government on Trump’s abuse of power.
It only gets scarier. With Barr, Trump’s sycophant-in-chief, wielding the awesome powers of the U.S. Department of Justice, there truly may be no constraint on Trump doing anything he dreams of doing. Barr, well known as an advocate of expanded presidential powers, is in a position to sculpt the Justice Department to suit Trump’s whims.
On Tuesday, Trump went on another rant, this one about the conviction and imminent sentencing of some of his cronies. As he has done in the past, he attacked federal judges over their rulings. He went too far for four career prosecutors involved in the Roger Stone sentencing.
Stone, a longtime friend and errand boy in the Trump gang, was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Prosecutors recommended seven to nine years in prison for the unapologetic Stone, a sentence within federal guidelines. If you’re not familiar with Stone, watch the 2017 documentary, “Get Me Roger Stone.” It’s available for streaming.
But Barr’s Justice Department has overruled its prosecutors on the sentencing recommendation, leading them to resign in protest. Also up in the air are sentencing for Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign manager, and Michael Flynn, former Trump national security adviser. Manafort was convicted, and Flynn pleaded guilty to their charges.
Perhaps worse than all this is a new policy at Barr’s Justice Department. It declares that no investigation can be opened into any presidential candidate without Barr’s written consent. Think he’ll sign off on an investigation of Trump or any of his troupe? Not on your life. The fix is in.
Gangster fiction terminology may be the only way to comprehend the Trump administration. Fictional gangsters would solve their legal problems by getting their cases dismissed by a judge the mob “owned.” Trump owns an entire Justice Department and still tries to intimidate federal judges with his Twitter tantrums. Like a gangster godfather, Trump protects those who are loyal and obedient and punishes those who cross him or disappoint him.
The scales of justice are being trampled by this administration.
Hal Tarleton is a former editor of The Wilson Daily Times. Contact him at email@example.com.