Donald Trump’s Strange Justice

How President Trump feels about due process appears to depend on whether he or his associates are the ones being investigated.

Monday, after the news broke that federal investigators had raided the office, hotel room, and home of Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, the president called it “an attack on our country, in a true sense,” and “an attack on what we all stand for.”

It was a curious reversal for a politician who, from the start of his campaign, has ridiculed due process protections as mere “political correctness,” but one that has become so common over the first two years of his presidency that it now goes practically unremarked. As a candidate in 2016, Trump declared that “an attack on law enforcement is an attack on all Americans.” But no chief executive has attacked law enforcement more frequently than Trump.

Much of the president’s rhetoric assumes that the arms of the state are infallible, and that its targets are assumed guilty. Trump has encouraged police to abuse or “rough up” criminal suspects; he has complained that Chicago’s police force, facing accusations of racial discrimination and brutality, was being too “politically correct” to stop a rise in homicides; he called for the execution of the Central Park Five and insisted they were guilty even after they were exonerated; and supported the death penalty for drug dealing. He called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States; he has called for killing the families of suspected terrorists; he insisted that Muslims accused of terrorism should be tortured.

The president is happy to characterize entire groups of people, such as black Americans, Latinos, and Muslims, as potential criminals. He began his campaign characterizing Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and drug dealers; exaggerated crime statistics involving black people; and accused Muslims of hating Americans and celebrating acts of terrorism.

It’s not that the president believes that systemic bias in law enforcement is impossible, or that he doesn’t understand the reason why it’s harmful to the cause of justice. It’s…

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