Montana's new congressman, Greg Gianforte, is refusing to cooperate with law enforcement, despite pleading guilty to assault.
Donald Trump sent shockwaves through the political sphere in a New York Times interview where, among other things, he threatened special counsel Robert Mueller and said he would not have hired Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions would not quash the Russia investigation for him.
New reports also indicate Trump is studying his options to block Mueller’s probe and pardon any family member or friend whom Mueller might prosecute.
These actions add yet more fuel to the fire for those accusing Trump of obstruction of justice, and may actually have emboldened Mueller. But most of all, they paint a picture of a man who is supremely unconcerned about the rule of law and considers it beneath him.
And Trump’s devil-may-care attitude toward the law may be having real consequences. Other Republican politicians have recently taken to flouting what is legally required of them, and few more brazenly than newly elected Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte.
Recently, Gianforte made national news for violently body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs after being asked a question about the GOP health care bill. He went on to win the election anyway the next day, but admitted wrongdoing and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He was fined and sentenced to community service and anger management.
Despite being caught dead to rights, however, Gianforte is bizarrely refusing to come in to the county jail for his mugshot and fingerprinting. He has been defying a court order to do so for a month, and his lawyers are absurdly trying to argue it does not apply to him because he technically was not arrested.
This sort of frivolous defiance of a judge’s order, and the insistence that he is immune from the law, reveals Gianforte is cut from the same cloth as Trump — who, it is worth remembering, spent months demonizing journalists and glorifying violence in the run-up to Gianforte’s assault on Jacobs, and celebrated his election after it had happened.
Trump’s lawless ways are causing damage that goes far beyond Trump himself. He is creating a very culture of contempt for any law that inconveniences Republicans. Following his lead will put our nation on a dark path.