Donald Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and temporarily replaced him with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. It’s already clear that the scandal-a-minute Whitaker isn’t long for the position, and that Trump will have to nominate someone else to be the new permanent Attorney General in January. Accordingly, some names are being publicly floated. Don’t believe it.
Here’s the thing. Even though the Republicans are going to retain control of the Senate, any Attorney General nominee is still going to face tough and potentially damaging questions from Senate Democrats during nationally televised hearings. That alone can derail things. For instance, while the Democrats weren’t able to stop Sessions’ confirmation in early 2017, they were able to get him to commit perjury, which resulted in him having to recuse himself, which ended up being Trump’s worst nightmare.
For that matter, Trump didn’t even bother to nominate Rudy Giuliani to his cabinet in early 2017, for fear that the Democratic cross-examination during confirmation hearings would expose Rudy’s role in the Trump-Russia election rigging scandal. So don’t look for Trump to nominate anyone who could make things worse for him – or worse for themselves – during a bruising confirmation battle. In that context, the names being floated right now are almost laughable.
Donald Trump’s people are telling multiple major news outlets that Chris Christie is on the Attorney General shortlist. But Christie was on the Trump transition team, which has since been exposed as having known about Michael Flynn’s illegal transition-period coordination with the Russian Ambassador. Outgoing Florida AG Pam Bondi is also supposedly on the short list, but she took a campaign donation from Trump in exchange for not pursuing the Trump University scandal.
These are not the kind of people Donald Trump wants to put through an Attorney General confirmation process. So why is he even floating their names? He wants us to get up in arms about the prospect of Christie, or Bondi, or Rudy, or Bigfoot, or whoever he’ll float next. That way, by the time he nominates some obscure henchman, we’ll be more likely to simply accept it, because at least it won’t be some big hated name. At least that’s how he thinks it’ll go. The key for the Resistance is to fight this one all the way to the end. Trump doesn’t get to have a new Attorney General.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report