George Stephanopoulos, Preet Bharara, and others discuss challenges to rule of law and presidential norms in first year of Trump administration

George Stephanopoulos, Emily Bazelon, Preet Bharara, and John Podhoretz

On the first anniversary of the 2016 US presidential election, NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice convened a panel including Emily Bazelon, staff writer for the New York Times Magazine; Distinguished Scholar in Residence and Adjunct Professor Preet Bharara, former US attorney for the Southern District of New York; John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary magazine and a New York Post columnist; and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, who served as moderator. Panelists discussed the challenges Donald Trump’s presidency has posed to the rule of law and standard norms of presidential behavior.

Select remarks:

Emily Bazelon: “We talk about breaking a rule, snapping a rule, but norms sort of fade away like sand, and yet they’re extremely precious. We rely on them all the time. There’s no way we can write down every standard of behavior that we want people in the government, in particular the president, to follow…. When you don’t write rules down, then it’s not clear exactly what they are or that they mean the same thing to everyone.”

George Stephanopoulos: “The volume and the velocity of the kind of disruption he’s unleashed…makes it very, very difficult to give every single disruption the amount of attention it deserves so people understand what’s happening.”

Preet Bharara: “If you have a bunch of normal playing kids in a sandbox and you introduce an element of craziness and one kid starts kicking sand and misbehaving, what likely is going to happen is not that everyone else is going to continue to behave like a perfectly well-mannered child. Other people are going to start acting up also, and that will sometimes happen in the press, it will sometimes happen in the president’s own cabinet, it’s happening in the Congress.”

John Podhoretz: “We are moving into a world in which people are literally going to decide that they believe in this set of facts and another bunch of people are going to think that they believe in another set of facts. Politics has the advantage of having these moments in time at which decisions are adjudicated. Elections happen, people win, other people don’t win.”

Watch the full video of the event (1 hr, 11 min):

Posted November 30, 2017