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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Expert opinions and protocol seem to rank low on Trump's priority list

President Donald Trump takes the stage at a

President Donald Trump takes the stage at a Make America Great Again rally April 27 in Green Bay, Wis. Credit: AP / Mike Roemer

Two fresh news reports reflect a familiar theme: President Donald Trump's very special approach to the norms of procedure and discipline.

Trump said Friday he is considering pardons for “two or three” U.S. soldiers charged with war crimes in the belief they had been treated “unfairly.” 

“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard, long. You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometime, they get really treated very unfairly,” Trump said unspecifically.

If the time comes, what will he say to his military brass who make difficult decisions to prosecute those who violated the rules? Does Trump really know from reviewing the cases on both sides that they were "treated very unfairly?"

So far Trump seems to have heard from an attorney for accused Navy SEAL chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher, who also represents the Trump Organization, and from Gallagher advocate Bernard Kerik, the former Rudy Giuliani business partner who served three years on federal corruption charges.

Of course, Trump here may only be feigning concern for the defendants. A year has passed since he said he was considering commuting the sentence of former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was a contestant on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2010. Nothing has come of this talk.

Some government professionals spend their careers trying to honestly procure public goods and services, a matter that can be complicated and high-pressured.

But administration officials told The Washington Post last week that the president, shunning the usual channels, has been urging the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on his media ally Fox News.

There may be billions of dollars at stake for the firm headed by chief executive Tommy Fisher. He has already begun directing construction of a section of fencing in Sunland Park, New Mexico, where a nonprofit called "We Build the Wall" is working on private land with private money.

According to the Post report, this entity's insider associates and advisory board include ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince, ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Trump from time to time displays contempt for the approach of those who might be better informed than he is on a particular topic or restrained by basic rules.

One time, on Long Island, he casually urged those who do the actual work in cracking down on MS-13 to abuse the suspects, in a "I'm-one-of-the-cool-tough-kids" way. During a debate in 2015, he said, contrary to the pose of all strategists, "When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families." 

Neither of these extracurricular actions seem to have been carried out.

Trump has also said: Judges who rule against his policies in court are skewing the law; an Arizona sheriff who supported his campaign deserved a pardon for defying a court order to stop racial profiling; engineers make planes “far too complex to fly.” 

Trump has also said: Scientists who warn of severe economic damage from climate change aren't to be believed; obstetricians sometimes help mothers "execute" babies; and the National Football League has gone "soft" by adding rules designed to prevent concussions. 

Trashing the professional practices of others might not be Trump’s profession.

Maybe it's just a hobby, like golf.

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