Donald Trump’s blunt talk is his trademark. But the president went way out of bounds this past weekend.
In a Fox News interview before the Super Bowl, Trump continued his lavish praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin even after his interviewer challenged him on admiring a “killer.” To defend himself, Trump felt the need to put down our country. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” Bad answer. There is no moral equivalency between the conduct of our nation and Putin, whose authoritarian rule continues his old KGB tactics of poisoning rivals and jailing political opponents, especially those who call out his kleptocracy.
But much worse are Trump’s disparaging comments about U.S. District Court Judge James Robart. The Seattle-based judge on Friday issued a temporary ruling halting implementation of the botched executive order on immigration until it could be fully reviewed. Trump tweeted, “The opinion of this so-called judge . . . is ridiculous and will be overturned.”
During the campaign, Trump also criticized Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a federal jurist who ruled against him in a fraud case against Trump University. That was troublesome, but the comments about Robart are dangerous.
The appellate court may ultimately rule that the immigration order is not unconstitutional. And Trump, like many presidents before him, can criticize the outcome of a specific case. That’s not what’s going on here. Trump either completely misunderstands that the judiciary is a co-equal branch of government or he deliberately, and dangerously, undermines respect for the judiciary. Vice President Mike Pence dismissed Trump’s remarks as the president “speaking his mind.” Pence knows better and should tell his boss why there is a penalty on the play. — The editorial board