Opinion

Sarah Sanders Seems to Have Forgotten That Conservatives Are Supposed to Support Law Enforcement

Professor of Alternative Facts Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a whopper of a press conference Tuesday after the D.C. court announced a surprising delay in Michael Flynn’s sentencing. In the presser, Sanders doubled down on accusations that the FBI “ambushed” Flynn during questioning.

Sanders insisted that it wasn’t Flynn’s behavior that should take center stage, but rather the FBI’s:

What we do know that was inappropriate by own self-admittance of James Comey is that the FBI broke standard protocol in the way that they came in and ambushed General Flynn and in the way that they questioned him and in the way that they encouraged him not to have White House counsel’s office present.

Sanders’ characterization of the FBI’s Flynn investigation as an “ambush” falls right in line with the administration’s repeated claims that the agency “broke into” Michael Cohen’s office.

Plenty about the work of government agencies is nuanced, but the Flynn-Trump-FBI triangle is as basic as it gets. Flynn committed a crime when he lied to a law enforcement agency, and some of the obstruction questions Mueller wants to ask Trump have to do with the president asking the FBI to halt its investigation of Flynn. Reasonable minds can disagree about the inferences and consequences resulting from those facts, but there is no logical world in which fault lies with the entire FBI.

For decades, calling out law enforcement for improper practices has been a liberal thing. Lefties and criminal defense lawyers are the ones who are skeptical about police practices. Conservatives are all about #BlueLivesMatter and the with-them-or-against-them stance on all people in uniforms. But despite declaring himself the “Law and Order President,” Trump has dismantled conservative respect for our most venerable law enforcement organization.

Now’s probably a good time for a reminder that, in reality, the FBI is an apolitical organization, staffed by dedicated law-enforcement professionals. The men and women of the FBI work hard to protect American citizens, and because our president is drawing a xenophobic line in the budgetary sand, many of them may soon do so without paychecks. Accusing the agency of engaging “in an outrageous amount of political bias” during a White House press conference is rich coming from the pulpit of those who purport to have unwavering support for police.

Obviously, as with any large organization, individual members of the FBI may be less than perfect; furthermore, the agency itself is not beyond some reasonable criticism. However, the new normal – the one in which the head of the executive branch regularly accuses the FBI of having an agency-wide “anti-Trump bias” – squares neither with Trump’s politically-expedient proclamations of esteem for law enforcement, nor with the very real respect most Americans have for those who protect us.

Thanks to the efforts of Trump and his mouthpieces like Sanders, the leaders of the FBI have become high-profile figures in the media, demonized for their abuse of power; their “victims” are, unbelievably, the most powerful people in the country. The administration has now recast the agency as an untrustworthy partisan foe, and conservative sheep are taking the bait.

Almost all of what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Tuesday is demonstrably false.  Michael Flynn’s actions are related to Trump, Flynn was not ambushed by the FBI, and the American people did not elect Trump because they think his tweetstorms are a good idea.  But I think we can agree on something Sarah said a while back:

[Image via White House screengrab]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. She is a frequent media contributor, and is Of Counsel to Smedley & Lis, in Woodbury, New Jersey. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos

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