What is the over/under on Esper being fired?

“Esper irked the White House Wednesday morning when he appeared in front of cameras to proclaim his opposition to deploying active-duty troops to respond to protests around the country — a move that many saw as a break with the president.”

If Esper refuses to carry out the orders of Mad King Don, there is always a Robert Bork somewhere, willing to take the job and do anything he’s told to do. Look for Trump to give Barr double duty as the AG and the acting Secretary of Defense, because Barr gives zero fucks about whether an order is legal or ethical.

16 thoughts on “What is the over/under on Esper being fired?

  1. I agree with Secretary Esper that deploying active duty military to respond to protests is a mistake. But like many things Trump does that I think are bad ideas, as President of the United States he has the authority to do it. If Esper refuses to follow a lawful order, he should be fired, though I think it likely he would resign first. The last thing we want in the United States are defense secretaries who don’t have to follow lawful orders of a president. Trump will not be president forever, in fact it seems increasingly likely he will be president for less than another year.

    I think Robert Bork was unfairly criticized over the Saturday Night Massacre. AG Richardson and Deputy AG Ruckelshaus resigned rather than follow Nixon’s order to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. According to Bork, who was then Solicitor General (#3 at the Justice Dept.) he was going to resign as well, but was talked out of it by Richardson & Ruckelshaus. Supposedly they told him that their resignations had sent the message the firing was wrong loud enough but that no matter how many people resigned eventually Nixon would get his way and Cox would be fired. They also told him that as the only other official with responsibility for the entire Justice Department, it would be better for the department if he remained. Now Bork may have been telling self serving lies when he told that story. But when I heard him explaining it he was under oath (during his ill fated confirmation hearings) and to the best of my knowledge neither Richardson nor Ruckelshaus ever contradicted him. That’s why I think he was probably telling the truth.

    1. Oh Christ, Bork. Even having never made it unto the Court, he’s taken fucking this country up to a new level. His theory that monopolies aren’t bad unless they result in higher prices is still being repeated with a straight face. He was the first “originalist” (or the first I remember), a school of thought that the Constitution says whatever I want it to say if you stare at it long enough. And whenever a case came before him where it was a person vs. a company/govt, he voted against the person every single time. This came out in his confirmation. So if he was unfairly criticized one time about one thing, boo fucking hoo.

    2. The legality of a presidential order under the Insurrection Act hinges on the president following a strictly defined protocol – issuing a proclamation giving the “rioters” a deadline to disburse. If Trump does that, it seems that he could invoke the act legally.

      It’s difficult to imagine Trump actually following a strict procedure and issuing a lawful order, but I guess the blind pig / truffle rule can always apply.

    3. Michael, please listen to what you are saying. You are putting obeying orders over DOING THE RIGHT THING. Down that road lie the Holocaust, which was either entirely legal, or would have been in a jiffy if Hitler had cared about legality. Everything Stalin did was perfectly legal, I am sure.

      Please try to think: you are trying to justifying the use of the US military against the citizens of the United States. Is there any just cause for doing that?

      Is the security of the United States in ANY actual danger, or are the people of the United States exercising their right to assemble and express their opinions, while a little miscellaneous crime happens in the background? Were things actually about 10 times worse in the 1960’s, and did LBJ manage to refrain from moving to gun down Americans en masse?

      Please, get a grip on what is right and what is wrong. And I do not mean in a legal sense.

      1. The financial machinations that led to the Great Recession make the looting in the current crisis look like next to nothing. But those were the 1 percenters so all good.

        1. The Republicans do not care about THAT kind of law and order, Tanner. In fact, they want those laws repealed.

          1. Roger. Republicans do not support financial crimes any more than Democrats think it’s OK for protesters to loot and riot. There are Republicans that exploit loopholes or just out and out break the law. But they are not the majority anymore than looters are the majority of Democrats.

          2. Just that the size of those financial machinations is orders of magnitude larger than the costs associated with the looting. Yet no one ever went to jail. Funny that.

      2. The reason I said we don’t want Defense Secretaries to be able to disregard the lawful orders of the President is because the civilian control of the military is one of the defenses of our liberty. Granted the Secretary of Defense is a civilian, but it seems to me it is as important for the Defense Secretary to obey lawful orders as a general. I am not saying that if Trump ordered the army to fire into a crowd, they should do that. That would be an illegal order anyway. The right thing for a Defense Secretary to do if faced with an order they cannot in good conscience obey, is resign.

        While I think using active duty troops against protesters is a bad idea, assuming the president (or more accurately the lawyers working for him) jump through the right hoops to properly invoke the insurrection act it would be legal. It would not be tantamount to seizing absolute power or a prelude to cancelling elections. As I understand it, the military does train its officers to understand the difference between lawful orders and potential war crimes. I don’t believe the Joint Chiefs would permit the military to be used to supplant our democracy.

        Again, I think it’s a mistake to use active duty troops to quell riots. First, because it just looks bad to use the military against our own civilians. That sends the wrong message to people protesting police brutality. Second, is the fact that most members of the military are not trained as police and there is a risk of another Kent State tragedy. The military seems to have thought of that and I believe were getting ready to deploy military police as opposed to combat troops.

        A year from now Joe Biden is likely to be president. I am sure I will disagree with a lot of things he does. But I will still want his Defense Secretary and the military to follow his lawful orders.

          1. What exactly was I apologizing for?

            Not Trump. I voted against him in both the GOP primary and the general election. I think his actions following the Floyd murder have exacerbated racial tensions instead of bringing people together.

            I disagree with the substance of Sen. Tom Cotton’s NY Times Op Ed regarding the Insurrection Act. But I do think the way the Times has backtracked and apologized for running it is pathetic.

            But as much as I dislike and disagree with Trump, I think setting a precedent where the military doesn’t have to follow lawful presidential orders because military leaders disagree with them is not in the long term interest of the United States. The time will come again when when military leaders disagree with lawful orders from a Democratic president, but I for one hope they obey those orders.

          2. Well, that phrase “lawful orders” is doing a lot of heavy lifting. The military followed Sonny Bush’s illegal orders to torture people. (I don’t care how many memos or “opinions” you get your pet lawyer to write. We are, since Reagan, signatories of the Convention Against Torture. It is not only illegal for us to torture, we have an affirmative duty to prosecute any of our people who do – a duty which Obama ignored.) The Kent State killings could have been avoided if soldiers refused the order to fire on unarmed non-combatants.
            It’s all fine to say that in retrospect, but the better solution is for the pres to not give an illegal order in the first place. That would be the precedent I’m worried about, way before the danger of a soldier – or Sec of Defense – doing other than carrying out all orders immediately and unquestioningly.

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