Donald Trump and William Barr continue to corrupt the office of the US Attorney General.
Yes, I know, there might be some twisted-out-of-shape rationale that will allow Trump and Barr to get away with this or get away with it until after the election, but it absolutely reeks of ethical and institutional compromise.
So another ethical norm goes by the wayside.
I had only a couple of minutes free when I posted this morning. To clarify what this story about:
The Justice Department moved on Tuesday to replace President Trump’s private legal team with government lawyers to defend him against a defamation lawsuit by the author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.
In a highly unusual legal move, lawyers for the Justice Department said in court papers that Mr. Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Ms. Carroll and thus could be defended by government lawyers — in effect underwritten by taxpayer money.
The alleged rape occurred long before Trump became president, but the Caroll made the accusation while Trump was president, and Trump's denial occurred while he was president. Barr Justice Department is arguing that Justice should take over the defense because Trump was acting in his capacity as president when he said that he never met Carroll and that he wouldn't have raped her because she's "not my type." If the Justice Department takes over the case, Americans will not only pay for Trump's defense, but we will pay for any damages.
I can't imagine how Trump's statements about a woman accusing him of rape are an exercise of presidential powers or even, more broadly, an engagement in the business of government. These were personal statements about a private individual in a civil matter related to events that occurred over 25 years before Trump's presidency. Trump's comments have absolutely nothing to do with the business of the state.
If Trump's statements about his rape accuser are presidential actions, what would not be a president acting in his capacity as president? Can Trump rape a woman today, and claim that doing so is an exercise of presidential power? Can he cheat someone in a private contract and claim that doing so was a presidential act, with legal fees and financial liability accruing to the public treasury?
This stunt looks more like the Justice Department taking on the role of personal attorney to the president with the US Treasury turned into Trump's private piggy bank.