President Donald Trump is apparently trying to show how much of a “law and order” president he’ll be by saying he’ll destroy a Texas state senator in favor of abolishing civil asset forfeiture. Trump made the quip during a conversation today with a North Texas sheriff.
It’s probably a joke (at least, I’m hoping it is, and the sheriff in question thinks it was too) because civil asset forfeiture reform is something which needs to happen. The only person to propose eliminating civil asset forfeiture in Texas is Senator Konni Burton (a woman), but others, like Senators Don Huffines and Bob Hall, are on record as wanting to see it eliminated. All three are Republicans, who are not establishment but more Tea Party-like (Burton is a Tea Party organizer who replaced Democrat Wendy Davis). Hall is the senator which covers Rockwall County, so it could be him.
But let’s focus on the fact the sitting president of the United States was willing to say he would “destroy” a politician who didn’t agree with the policies he wants to put in place. Trump surrogate Omarosa Manigault told IJR on election night the then-president-elect had a list of people who didn’t support him, and wouldn’t forget it. That’s pretty much out of Richard Nixon’s playbook, although Nixon never spoke publicly about it. It also shows Trump is willing to do whatever it takes to get his agenda passed, whether it’s on a federal or state level.
There are definitely going to be people who believe this is a good thing, especially after ex-President Barack Obama tended to passive aggressively whine about the GOP not doing what he wanted and the IRS audits of conservative groups. The problem is politics can be about give and take and negotiation. Trump isn’t going to get everything he wants, and he should know this because of his past as a businessman. Former President George W. Bush once joked how frustrating the give and take can be. Via AP.
“Dealing with Congress is a matter of give and take,” Bush said before his trip down Pennsylvania Avenue. “The president doesn’t get everything he wants, the Congress doesn’t get everything they want. But we’re finding good common ground.”
“A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there’s no question about it,” he said.
I don’t think Bush should have made the comment, because it suggests he really just wanted things to go his way. But Bush didn’t always have that reputation, while Trump does have a reputation as someone who will fight long and hard to get back at people. Virgin founder Richard Branson wrote last year about a conversation he had with Trump on the subject of revenge.
Some years ago, Mr Trump invited me to lunch for a one-to-one meeting at his apartment in Manhattan. We had not met before and I accepted. Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help. He told me he was going to spend the rest of his life destroying these five people.
He didn’t speak about anything else and I found it very bizarre. I told him I didn’t think it was the best way of spending his life. I said it was going to eat him up, and do more damage to him than them. There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life. (Hopefully my advice didn’t lead to him running for President!)…
I left the lunch feeling disturbed and saddened by what I’d heard. There are a lot of frightening things about this election; not least that policy has been pushed so far down the agenda. What concerns me most, based upon my personal experiences with Donald Trump, is his vindictive streak, which could be so dangerous if he got into the White House. For somebody who is running to be the leader of the free world to be so wrapped up in himself, rather than concerned with global issues, is very worrying.
This is why Trump’s comment concerns me, joke or not. It reinforces the idea he’s a petty individual, who will do everything he can’t to make sure he wins all the time. That’s not possible in politics, and we might all be subject to even more early morning rants on Twitter from the president.
Trump could be telling Congress to not even bother with justice reform issues because he’ll veto any bill which reaches his desk. This means all the work done by Right on Crime and FreedomWorks goes for nought, and more innocent people get things taken just because police guess they’re involved in a crime, without any proof. That’s even more disappointing because there needs to be reform in the justice system. Politicians were the ones who started this by putting in place far too many laws. Unfortunately, they’ll also have to be the ones to solve the issue, by repealing them. Trump’s comment on “destroying” a Texas senator who wants reform, even if it was a joke, doesn’t help.
Update (Ed): Taylor asked me to update the post to include the official response from Konni Burton to the controversy:
“I have never met with Sheriff Eavenson, nor even heard of him before yesterday. However, I take exception to his comments on asset forfeiture reform.
While I certainly want law enforcement to have the tools necessary to combat large criminal enterprises, we must be vigilant to safeguard the rights of everyday citizens from potential abuse. Do not be mistaken or misled: this is not strictly a law enforcement issue; this is a property rights issue.
Property rights are one of the foundational rights in any free society and the taking of property by government is no small matter. Requiring the government to secure a criminal conviction before permanently taking property from citizens is simply commonsense. We would not stand for anything less when it comes to our personal liberty or freedom; why should we allow our property to be taken so easily? We should not diminish the constitutional protections guaranteed for all in the 4th and 5th Amendments to more easily punish criminals. On the contrary, we should defend these protections more fiercely than ever so they are strong for future generations.
I will not be discouraged nor deterred. The moment for reform of our system of asset forfeiture has arrived. Please join me in this effort.”