By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe Donald Trump just should have knelt during the National Anthem.
That probably would have been more effective than releasing classified information in a strange and sloppily written congressional memo.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
Because the president’s complaint isn’t that different from those of the NFL players and Black Lives Matter activists he loves to demonize.
Like them, he says he’s been targeted unfairly by law enforcement officials who are treating him unjustly because of preconceived notions they have about him.
There are some differences in the two situations, of course.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents investigating Trump aren’t likely to shoot or pummel the president without a trial – particularly if he raises his hands in surrender.
Many black men in America don’t have that same sense of security.
Nor is it probable that the NFL players who kneel during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” will compromise intelligence-gathering efforts and give comfort and aid to our adversaries by doing so.
But, still, the point is the same.
It’s just wrong for law-enforcement officials to target and pick on some people just because they happen not to like them.
“A disgrace,” as the president says.
To be sure, there are Trump critics who will argue that the memo prepared by zealous Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives contradicts the president’s thesis. They will say that the memo, cherry-picked and selective as it may be, still demonstrates that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia came before any partisan research triggered any further scrutiny. They might even argue that memo suggests that part of the reason some FBI agents had come to distrust Donald Trump and his team was that they already had seen evidence he was cozying up in disturbing and dangerous ways to an historic U.S. enemy.
Then there’s the other line of criticism that came, most forcefully, from that perpetual whiner, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
McCain argued that releasing the memo revealed information about U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts that the Russians and others will be able to use to more effectively hide their efforts to threaten and damage our country. And he argued that public officials, such as presidents and members of Congress, have obligations to support – and not to undermine – the rule of law.
In fact, they’ve taken oaths to do just that.
But, then, what has John McCain ever done for America?
I mean, other than laze around as a prisoner of war in Vietnam enjoying daily rounds of torture that left him with injuries that afflict him to this day while Donald Trump was racking up draft deferments, so that the future commander-in-chief bravely could battle bone spurs in his heels and date fashion models?
Clearly, John McCain knows nothing about what it means to sacrifice and suffer on behalf of his country.
Not like Donald Trump does, anyway.
This is the crux of the issue.
So many people in America think they know what it means to be hurt, to be treated unfairly, to be persecuted.
Black Americans, women, LGBTQ citizens, immigrants, the poor, veterans and so many others complain that they have it tough.
They have no idea.
Real hardship is being a multi-millionaire trust fund baby who parlays his inheritance into (he claims) a multi-billion-dollar net worth while becoming a television celebrity and, ultimately, the most powerful elected official in America, only to have uppity special counsels and FBI agents tell him the law applies to him, too.
Now, that’s suffering.
Doubtless, it is this sense that life and circumstance haven’t treated him well that gives this president his bottomless wells of empathy for the disenfranchised, dispossessed and desperate.
But it also fuels his determination to resist injustice at the hands of thuggish law enforcement officials.
After all, what evidence do we have – other than the two guilty pleas, two other indictments and the fact that almost everyone in the West Wing has hired criminal lawyers – that the Trump campaign has done anything wrong regarding Russia?
That’s why the president should take a knee during the National Anthem.
As Donald Trump says, this whole episode is “a disgrace.”
Just not in the way he thinks it is.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.