No matter how much the Trump administration's draconian mass incarceration of "illegal" immigrants and his "Remain in Mexico" policy against legitimate asylum seekers violate the basic standards of humanity and human rights, causing appalling suffering and in same cases death for the "crime" of seeking a better life in the United States, Trump and his supporters are attempting to justify this by repeating the mantra that Trump is only "enforcing the law".

A new book: A Very Stable Genius by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, shows that this claim is a sham, and that Trump repeatedly ordered his former DHS chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, to break the law, and he savagely berated her and humiliated her when she tried to stand up for the rule of law.

The following excerpts from the book, appearing in The Guardian on January 21, show that Trump's attitude to the law was one of a dictator, regarding the law as nothing more than an impediment to his own goals, and something to be ignored when it got in the way of his drive to absolute power. Here are some extracts:

"Trump regularly called Nielsen after watching Lou Dobs' nightly show on Fox Business. Dobbs delivered regular diatribes on illegal immigration proposing unrealistic solutions and castigating Nielsen as a squish....Sometimes, Trump would refer to one of Dobbs' proposals and say: 'Kirstjen, just do it. Just do it.'

'But we can't do it, Nielsen would explain, usually because whatever Dobbs had uttered on TV was against the law...

One of Nielsen's tactics for when Trump asked her to do something illegal - or - something that violated a regulation or a treaty - was to ask him: 'OK. sir, what are you trying to accomplish here? She would then try to figure out a legally permissible way to achieve the same result amd often arranged briefings to inform the president what he could do and not do...But the briefings rarely made an impression on Trump. Just when Nielsen thought an illegal or unfeasible idea had been put to bed, the president would awaken it. Trump did not see the law as an impediment.//

'Look, we'll get sued and then we'll work it out, ' Trump told Nielsen during one such discussion. 'Just block people from coming in.' Stopping people from seeking asylum was a favorite solution of he president's...Just as he used to recoil from former White House counsel Don McGahn's repeatedly telling him he couldn't do some of the things he wanted to do, Trump got frustrated with Nielsen.

'Federal law enforcement doesn't work like that, Nielsen told Trump at one such meeting. People could get in trouble. These people have taken an oath to uphold the law. Do you really want to tell them to do the opposite?'

'Then we'll pardon them', Trump sad.'"

At his impeachment trial, Trump's lawyers are reportedly planning to argue that he should not be convicted or removed from office because he allegedly broke no laws. If the House Democrats had had the courage to investigate Trump's immigration agenda as grounds for impeachment, calling Kirstjen Nielsen as a prime witness on that issue could have very arguably been one of their top priorities,

Unfortunately, that courage was lacking in the Democratic leadership, with what could be ominous consequences for the rule of law in America in the near future - not only for immigration.


Roger Algase
Attorney at Law