Toobin: Trump's a Dictator Who Thinks Justice Department Staff Are His 'Personal Servants'

If it's Tuesday, CNN is going to be telling us Trump behaves like an authoritarian. As well as Wednesday, and Thursday. Take a liberal newspaper report on Trump raging about something, insert outrage, and go. 

During Tuesday’s edition of CNN's The Situation Room, it was a New York Times report that President Trump wanted the Department of Justice to look into prosecuting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey. The article did not even mention that President Trump never made such an order until the sixth paragraph.

Nonetheless, CNN still went into meltdown mode. Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin warned of creeping fascism, saying “this is what happens in authoritarian countries...The President, the leader orders the investigation and prosecution of his political enemies,” without even bothering to mention that strong evidence exists that crimes may have been committed. Comey laid out a very strong case for prosecuting Clinton before ultimately deciding to skip it. It may have been related to Attorney General Loretta Lynch meeting Bill Clinton at an airport, but Toobin goes goo-goo over her. 

After host Wolf Blitzer brought up the article’s mention of President Trump’s dissatisfaction with FBI Director Christopher Wray for failing to “more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton,”  Toobin went on a lengthy rant:
 

TOOBIN: This is his view of any government official. Whether it’s in the FBI or the Justice Department, who doesn’t do his personal bidding. He has absolutely no understanding that the FBI, the Justice Department, the entire U.S. Government, works for the taxpayers, works for defending the Constitution. He thinks they are all his personal servants. And when they don’t do something he wants done, even if there is no legal basis for it, even if it’s a violation of all of our traditions in the legal community, he gets angry.

CNN Political Director David Chalian echoed Toobin’s rhetoric, using the phrase “banana republic” and talking about how it would be “so beyond the norm of a U.S. President to use his power to actually investigate and potentially jail his political opponents.”

Toobin and Chalian had good company when it came to comparing President Trump to an authoritarian. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough referred to President Trump as a “Stalinist” just hours after this particular segment aired on CNN, while on-air personalities on CNN, MSNBC, and ABC robotically called President Trump a “dictator” over the summer because White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made an announcement that the President was considering revoking the security clearances of former Obama administration officials.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer is below. Click “expand” to read more.

The Situation Room

11/20/18

05:38 PM

 

WOLF BLITZER: We’re following multiple breaking stories right now. Moments ago, The New York Times reported that earlier this year, President Trump wanted to order the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, but was warned by his White House Counsel that if he were to make such an order, it could lead to his impeachment. Also breaking, the President’s attorneys announcing that Mr. Trump has finally turned over his written answers to written questions from the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. We have lots to discuss with our political, legal and national security experts. And Jeffrey Toobin, I want your response, first of all, on this New York Times article; headline, “Trump Wanted to Order Justice Department to Prosecute Comey and Clinton.”

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, this is what happens in authoritarian countries. The President orders…the President, the leader orders the investigation and prosecution of his political enemies. Fortunately, there are people in the White House here who understood the traditions and the rules of the American legal system and said, you can’t do that. And it didn’t happen. But this is simply the logical extension of what the President has tweeted about, what he said in speeches, what he has…you know, been quite clear in saying, that he wanted Comey and Clinton prosecuted. But now we see that he made an even greater effort to make it happen. Fortunately, the internal checks and balances within the White House seem to have stopped this idea.

BLITZER: And what does it say to you, Jeffrey, that in the article, the President is reported as having felt that the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, whom he appointed, who he nominated to be the head of the FBI, that he was critical of him for failing to more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton, calling him weak.

TOOBIN: Well, this is his view of any government official, whether it’s in the FBI or the Justice Department, who doesn’t do his personal bidding. He has absolutely no
understanding that the FBI, the Justice Department, the entire U.S. Government, works for the taxpayers, works for defending the Constitution. He thinks they are all his personal servants. And when they don’t do something he wants done, even if there is no legal basis for it, even if it’s a violation of all of our traditions in the legal community, he gets angry. Now, he hasn’t fired the current Director of the FBI, not yet. But it’s indicative of his displeasure.

BLITZER: Talk about, David Chalian, the political ramifications of this article in the New York Times; especially as the Democrats are getting ready to take over the majority in the House of Representatives.

DAVID CHALIAN: Well, right. So that’s a whole new context for any of these developments, because there’s now going to be an additional layer of scrutiny applied. But, Wolf, as Jeffrey noted there, are two things going on here. There’s the banana republic piece of this that Donald Trump previewed for us in the second Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton when he said, if he won the election he was going to have a special prosecutor investigate Hillary Clinton to which she replied, “thank God somebody with Donald Trump’s temperament is not in charge of the laws in this country.” So this was fully litigated before the American public in the 2016 Presidential debate. It’s why we’re not surprised at these developments any more. But it doesn’t make them any less shocking when we actually see a development like this. The other piece is this notion…Jeffrey called it a tradition, which it is, but this notion of an independent justice arm, that that is separate and apart from the President’s wishes. I don’t think it was an overstatement by Don McGahn or some scare tactic to apply to the President when his lawyers put together that memo and suggested impeachment may be a reality and that was written under the context of a Republican House and Senate because this would be so beyond the norm of a U.S. President to use his power to actually investigate and potentially jail his political opponents.

 

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