Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
On March 10, word began to circulate that new Attorney General Jeff Sessions had issued a call for resignation — from every one of the 46 U.S. Attorneys who still remained from the Obama Administration.
Almost immediately, the hand-wringing pundits and sensationalized headlines began to emerge from the ether…
Some headlines simply led the readers to believe that the move was unexpected:
- The New York Times: Trump Abruptly Orders 46 Obama-Era Prosecutors to Resign
- New York Magazine: The DOJ Just Called for the Firing of 46 Obama-Appointed U.S. State’s Attorneys, Including Preet Bharara
- CNN: Anger Mounts over Handling of US Attorney Firings
Others were a little more … sensational:
- Vanity Fair: Trump’s Firing of U.S. Attorneys Raises Eyebrows, Prompts Conflict
- Politics USA: Trump Fires All 46 Remaining US Attorneys Out Of Fear That Obama’s Out To Get Him
The Daily Beast’s Harry Siegel referenced Nixon’s less-than-Kosher dealings with his own DOJ when he tweeted:
“Everything these people do is a Saturday night massacre. It’s such a lack of basic fucking decency. They don’t see anyone as human beings.” https://t.co/cMBxhJVc0h
— Harry Siegel (@harrysiegel) March 11, 2017
University of California Irvine political science professor Rick Hasen suggested that the blame might lie with Sean Hannity:
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) March 11, 2017
In fact, Kasen wasn’t alone. Several sources referenced Hannity’s on-air call for a purge of the “deep state bureaucrats” at the Justice Department in their coverage of Sessions’ action — which occurred very shortly thereafter:
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) March 12, 2017
But then a few people pointed out that nothing President Trump or Attorney Jeff Sessions has done is outrageous — or even unprecedented. And this particular action — calling for the resignation of the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys — is more reminiscent of Bill Clinton than Richard Nixon.
In 1993, shortly after taking office, President Bill Clinton authorized Attorney General Janet Reno’s clean sweep of the DOJ, calling for 93 resignations simultaneously:
And Attorney General Jeff Sessions would know — as he was one of them:
A few sources got it right:
- National Review: Sessions’s Firing of 46 Obama-Appointed U.S. Attorneys Isn’t Scandalous
- Slate: Yes, Trump and Sessions Just Cleaned House at the DOJ. No, It’s Not Shocking.
But overall, this action — even if it were unprecedented — should not come as a surprise. President Trump ran on a few very specific promises, one of which was that he would “drain the swamp.” It seems more than likely that the DOJ (in particular, any leftover appointees from the previous administration) is part of that “swamp.”