”Bizarre” is too kind a word to describe the interview The New York Times conducted Wednesday with the man squatting in the White House. It was brimful of the narcissism, nastiness, and delusionary nonsense that we have come to expect from Donald J. Trump in his six months pretending to be the best president America has ever had. That reporters Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman managed to keep their jaws off the floor of the Oval Office given the deluge of cray-cray and crapola Trump spewed is a testament to their professional skills. Here’s just one tidbit describing a moment in his visit to Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron:
TRUMP: We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner.
Uh-huh. You betcha. Celebrating a visit by whom my friend who writes News Corpse calls the Orange Julius Caesar was a bigger deal than that day in late August 1944 when Parisians took to the streets in their tens of thousands after the Nazis were driven out.
But by now we’re all familiar with the man’s never-ending, self-congratulatory fantasies. Since we’ve been drenched in them, they’re no longer particularly disturbing, just Trump being Trump, merely good for a smirk or two. What is disturbing are his views about how government should work, particularly the Department of Justice, and his unfettered willingness to attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation and to threaten special counsel Robert Mueller:
TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.
The reactionary, retrograde, neo-Confederate Sessions is no hero. In addition to his racism and other backwardness, his moves as A.G. on asset forfeiture, on drug prosecutions, on federal oversight of police departments, on treatment of immigrants, on support for more private prisons, and on reliable forensic science in the courtroom turn back the clock in arenas where progress, however limited, has been made. All bad, all damaging to the nation and its people.
But one thing Sessions has done right is recuse himself from the Russia inquiry given his own unexplained involvement. Ethics required that he do. After all, he was an early Trump supporter, served on his campaign committee with Michael Flynn, and nominated Trump at the Republican convention. Impartiality if he had any part in the investigation would have been impossible.
But as has long been obvious before he took the oath of office or was even old enough to run for president, ethics have never been Donald Trump’s long suit. And now that he has the power of the executive branch in his hands, what he demands more than ever above all else from those he appoints is strict loyalty. He obviously views the recusal as betrayal and repeatedly clashed with Sessions about it behind the scenes. As a result, Sessions offered to resign. But Trump kept him on, feeling, reports said, boxed-in and concerned that the A.G.’s resignation would ignite more criticism.
After the public blast at Sessions in Wednesday’s interview, however, the attorney general really has no choice but resignation if he has an ounce of self-respect. He shouldn’t, as before, go on bended knee to say he will resign if Trump wants him to. He should just deliver the resignation letter and go home to pine for the days before he gave up his cushy Senate seat for the top job at the Department of Justice. Or he can choose to be the supine weaselly yes man and accomplice that Trump wants him to be.