In the days of yore of less than a week ago, Donald Trump held an event on Long Island where he encouraged law enforcement officers to violently abuse criminal suspects. The next day, we now learn, the acting director of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chuck Rosenberg, issued a memo to DEA agents around the world repudiating Trump’s comments.
“The president, in remarks delivered yesterday in New York, condoned police misconduct regarding the treatment of individuals placed under arrest by law enforcement,” the memo reads. “I write to offer a strong reaffirmation of the operating principles to which we, as law enforcement professionals, adhere. I write because we have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong. That’s what law enforcement officers do. That’s what you do. We fix stuff. At least, we try.”
If you’d asked me to guess which government agency’s leader would be the first to condemn Trump’s comments, DEA wouldn’t have been in my top 20. But Rosenberg is a Justice Department veteran with close ties to James Comey, the fired FBI director, and Robert Mueller, the DOJ special counsel, both of whom the president has publicly mistreated.
Later this afternoon, the Senate is scheduled to confirm Chris Wray as Comey’s replacement. I’ve said my piece about why I think Democrats got way ahead of themselves in throwing their support to Wray. Of course, they couldn’t have known that Trump would issue a national call for police abuse before Wray was confirmed. But it would be perfectly appropriate for Democrats to seek Wray’s response to Trump’s comments before giving him their blessing. Indeed, it would be the least they could do.