Biden and the Border Patrol: So good to have the ‘adults’ back in charge
Throughout the Trump era, the now former president was upbraided for his disturbing habit of commenting prejudicially on pending investigations and prosecutions. I joined this chorus early on, observing, for example, that Donald Trump was to blame for the outrageously mild sentence imposed on deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
While his apologists rationalized that President Trump was not a lawyer and should be excused for any unfamiliarity with the concerns in play, there really was no excusing it: The chief executive is responsible for upholding due process; lack of legal training is irrelevant; Trump was a litigious celebrity businessman who easily grasped the principles at issue; those principles are not complicated (the prohibition against “poisoning the well” is a commonsense concept, not a peculiarly legal one); and even if a rookie mistake could be overlooked, Trump made this a four-year habit.
The former president, nevertheless, compares favorably to his successor. President Biden does not even have an ostensibly plausible excuse for smearing the horsebound Border Patrol agents who are now being investigated by their agency for what appears to be the entirely lawful manner in which they corralled aliens who were attempting to enter the United States illegally in Del Rio, Texas.
Biden has been a lawyer for over a half-century, and as a U.S. senator was the longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee who presided over judicial confirmation hearings, including for the U.S. Supreme Court. Vice President Kamala Harris, who chimed in on cue with a noxious comparison to the treatment of slaves in the antebellum South, has been a lawyer for over 30 years — the chief prosecutor for the city of San Francisco and, later, attorney general of the state of California.
No one knows better than Biden and Harris that it is improper for the political leadership of the executive branch to comment publicly about ongoing investigations, especially to the prejudice of the subjects of a probe. They grasp intimately, moreover, that when those subjects are law enforcement or military officers of executive branch components, prejudicial comments give even guilty officers a defense: the claim that they’ve been subjected to a tainted investigation, in which their superiors took action against them only because of political pressure, not a good-faith assessment of the evidence.
Of course, there is no reason to believe the agents here are guilty. That is the truly revolting aspect of the White House’s misconduct.
No, Trump should not have called Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” and suggested (by mimicry) that he deserved execution by firing squad. But Bergdahl was, in fact, a loathsome deserter whose disappearance resulted in the death of at least one soldier shot during the search for him. Likewise, Trump should not have called for Sayfullo Saipov, the jihadist eventually indicted for killing eight people by running them over in lower Manhattan, to be put to death. But there is overwhelming proof of Saipov’s guilt, to the point that he offered to plead guilty to all murder counts if the death penalty were taken off the table. Similarly, Trump should not have pressured the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute Hunter Biden, but there is enough evidence of wrongdoing that the Biden Justice Department has advised the president’s son that he is under investigation.
That is, Trump said things presidents should never say, even if they are true, because presidents are obligated to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, which include the laws that require due process for suspects and defendants. Biden and Harris, by contrast, have made statements about the Border Patrol agents that are untrue — wholly apart from the fact that such things never should be said by presidents and vice presidents.
Biden’s remarks were especially outrageous:
“I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation, under way now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences. … It’s an embarrassment, but beyond an embarrassment, it is dangerous. It’s wrong; it sends the wrong message around the world, it sends the wrong message at home. It’s simply not who we are.”
Disgraceful. By the time Biden said this, days had elapsed and the falsity of the initial claim that the agents had “whipped” the Haitian illegal aliens — which morphed (because of the embarrassment of Acela corridor journos who did not know whips from reins) into a claim that the reins had been used as whips or straps against the aliens — was already notorious.
Despite having abundant reason to know that what he was saying was untrue, Biden said it anyway. He “promised” that there would be “consequences” for agents who had done nothing wrong in trying to deal with the chaos and lawlessness at the border that Biden himself has fomented. The president sided with foreign lawbreakers over American law enforcement officers who were faithfully carrying out their sworn duties — would that Biden would carry out his. He claims to be worried about the “wrong message [being sent] around the world,” when the message he is sending is that the border is open, and that if aliens traverse it in violation of our laws, there will be hell to pay — not for the lawbreakers but for law officers who try to keep them out.
Congressional Democrats made a habit of conducting impeachment investigations of President Trump for obstructing investigations, undermining national security, and abusing executive power. As long as Biden is going to provide solid evidence of such malfeasance, Republicans should take note.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at National Review Institute, a contributing editor at National Review, a Fox News contributor and the author of several books, including “Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.” Follow him on Twitter @AndrewCMcCarthy.
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