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Trump's sustained attacks on American rights

Two years ago Sunday, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump derided US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, hearin...

Posted: May 28, 2018 10:31 AM
Updated: May 28, 2018 10:31 AM

Two years ago Sunday, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump derided US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, hearing a lawsuit against Trump University, for his "Mexican" heritage and complained of being "railroaded" by the legal system.

It was shocking, Democrats and Republicans alike condemned Trump's racially intemperate criticism of the Indiana-born judge.

Turns out, it was nothing.

Over the past 24 months, Trump has scorned judges, derided the American court system, and trampled on all manner of constitutional principles. Trump has especially ridiculed due process of law, the bedrock against government's arbitrary denial of a person's life, liberty or property.

Critics warn that denunciations that once seemed so aberrational may be seeping into the American psyche and influencing how government operates.

This week, Trump suggested immigrants at the border could be summarily deported without any hearing to determine if they deserved asylum or were US citizens wrongly apprehended. In a Fox News interview that aired on Thursday, Trump flatly deemed the system of immigration judges "corrupt" and said, "Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials? Where do these judges come from?"

The administrative system, in fact, is part of Trump's executive branch, run by the Justice Department; the attorney general appoints immigration judges.

In the same interview, Trump responded to the NFL policy prohibiting kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner," with a message for players who refuse to stand for the anthem: "Maybe you shouldn't be in the country."

Such an attitude inflames controversy over league rules for players protesting racial injustice to intimations of government rejection of its citizens - for speaking out.

Due Process. Citizenship. Racial Equality. Trump's targets seem to merit none of these. It is not lost on Trump's detractors that he routinely takes aim at immigrants and racial minorities.

At the same time, the President expresses outrage over what happens to the men of his world.

When his former staff secretary Rob Porter was accused by two ex-wives of domestic violence, Trump emphasized in February to the news media, "He says he's innocent." Then in a tweet, Trump wrote: "Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"

In April, Trump referred to an FBI raid on the home and office of Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen, executing a court-approved subpoena, as "an attack on our country ... an attack on what we all stand for."

And on Sunday, he tweeted, without explanation.

If Trump's norm-shattering derision of the courts and constitutional principles has only accelerated in the past two years, public responses appear more polarized. Opponents are overwhelmingly Democratic. Trump's approval rating among Republicans remains high.

There also may be fatigue. Trump is constant. His questioning Thursday of a legal process for people apprehended at the border drew scant public response.

Long before he was a candidate, Trump was known for complaints about the justice system and incendiary rhetoric. He railed against five black and Latino men accused (and wrongfully convicted) for a 1989 rape of a jogger in New York's Central Park. Trump bought full-page ads in New York newspapers proclaiming, "Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police." Even after the men were exonerated, he suggested they were guilty.

The difference now, of course, is that he is America's top leader. So last fall, when he tweeted that an Uzbekistan man who was charged with killing eight pedestrians and bikers in New York City "SHOULD GET THE DEATH PENALTY," some law professors and analysts wondered if the President's comments would hurt the government's legal case.

Trump sets a tone for the whole country - a reality that spurred Republican op-ed columnist Michael Gerson, a former aide to President George W. Bush, to pen a scathing assessment earlier this month.

"Whatever else Trumpism may be," Gerson wrote in The Washington Post, "it is the systematic organization of resentment against outgroups. His record is rich in dehumanization. ... This is more than a disturbing pattern; it is an organizing political principle. And it has resulted in a series of radiating consequences."

As one of many examples, Gerson pointed to West Virginia GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship's statement that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was creating jobs for "China people." (His wife, Elaine Chao, was born in Taiwan.)

"The Trump era is a renaissance of half-witted intolerance," Gerson concluded, urging Republican leaders to challenge Trump. (The President endorsed one of Blankenship's opponents and Blankenship lost the primary.)

If such protests from the right are rare, the left has tried to remain energized.

The stream of Trump rhetoric against due process "is exhausting, yet requires us to remain vigilant," said Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Gupta said an overriding concern is that dehumanizing language and attacks on minorities influence administration policy "The daily hits to due process are real and it is dangerous for any of us to accept this as normal," she said.

Irrespective of how responses have evolved over the past two years, Trump has not deviated from his personal script.

As he declared in May 2016, when many of his comments were rallying fans and roiling critics, "You think I'm going to change? I'm not changing."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62199

Reported Deaths: 1753
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
Madison232460
Harrison222833
Rankin216830
Jackson206338
Jones180457
Forrest165353
Washington152433
Lauderdale135488
Lee127430
Neshoba123288
Lamar114613
Oktibbeha106036
Lowndes99932
Bolivar98732
Warren97630
Scott96219
Panola93611
Sunflower92623
Copiah92426
Lafayette88512
Leflore86660
Holmes85148
Pike84632
Grenada81621
Yazoo79311
Leake77125
Lincoln75641
Pontotoc7527
Wayne73621
Simpson72328
Monroe71650
Coahoma67710
Tate66524
Marion62519
Covington60112
Adams58725
Marshall5858
Winston58415
George5495
Union53814
Newton52611
Attala50224
Pearl River49637
Tallahatchie49610
Walthall46318
Chickasaw44319
Noxubee42611
Claiborne40113
Jasper3859
Smith38513
Calhoun3819
Clay37413
Alcorn3634
Prentiss3516
Hancock34414
Tishomingo3394
Itawamba31710
Tippah31612
Lawrence3155
Yalobusha31310
Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
Greene23211
Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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