Harvard Law School isn’t just one of the elite law schools in the nation, it’s also one of the biggest. Nearly everything about the profession, from its most noble impulses to its most cynical realities, is represented by a significant cross section of HLS alumni. The sheer size of the HLS community defies labeling it as this way or the other: there are liberals and conservatives, good lawyers and bad ones, dedicated crusaders and devious villains. HLS contains the multitudes.
That said, if you find one of these Harvard Law types who is actually willing to work for, or closely with, the Trump administration… run. Run your ass off. That person is an evil motherf**ker who would burn down the country just to be general counsel to its ashes.
Rob Porter was revealed to be the latest monster to work for Donald Trump (SPOILER: They’re ALL monsters, every single one of them). I apparently overlapped with Porter at both undergrad and HLS. Though I did not know him (he’s a Mormon and I have an alcohol problem), I’m not really surprised that when Trump went back to the HLS well, he pulled an alleged wife-beater out of the Yard.
The last time Trump scraped something loose from Langdell Law Library, Anthony Scaramucci fell out. Scaramucci was so embarrassing that Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe felt the need to drown him in shade.
C.I.A. director and possible replacement as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is HLS ’94, and I promise you that dude is doing evil on the reg. Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz don’t work for Trump; instead, they both want to be Trump and are sure that one day his base will embrace their brand of “bigotry without the narcissism,” sooner rather than later. And of course, most legally famous of all, high school lol-fascist Neil Gorsuch received his legal training at Harvard Law School as well.
If we expand the orbit beyond just the law school, we see any number of Harvard people in Trump’s orbit: Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and Kris Kobach — who people don’t realize is the second most dangerous lawyer in America behind Jeff Sessions — who got his undergrad degree from Harvard before he went to law school at Yale, to Yale’s embarrassment I am sure.
Look, in any administration you’re going to find a lot of Harvard people because it’s FREAKING HARVARD. How do you think old boys’ networks operate?
But what stands out about this crop of Harvard-imbued lawyers and functionaries is that they all know better. There’s a lot of talk about Trump needing “adult supervision.” But these Harvard guys ARE the adults, and they know full well the kind of wanton destruction to American norms they are allowing to happen. These guys haven’t been tricked, they’ve made a choice. That they’ve made it should be frightening to everybody, and one of the solid indications that America is not going to “come back” from the Trump era looking anything like a moral or ethical polity.
Contrast somebody like Hope Hicks with Rob Porter. Hicks is awful and complicit and all that, sure. But she’s also a bobblehead magically brought to life who hopes to one day become a real girl. She’s easy prey for a guy like Rob Porter. As much as we want to talk about what John Kelly knew, and when he knew it, you know who absolutely knew Porter was an accused wife-beater who was never going to get security clearance? ROB PORTER! He knew! And he took the job anyway. The Harvard in him told him that he was deserving, that the rules were just not going to apply to him.
Contrast Scaramucci from his predecessor, Sean Spicer, or his successor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Spicer drank ALL the Kool-Aid and thought he was just following orders when he actively lied to the press. Sanders thinks she’s speaking FOR GOD and thus everything she says will end up being true when Jesus Christ comes back to smite black journalists who bear the mark of Cain. But Scaramucci… no, that asshole there treated the whole thing like some elaborate GAME. The fate of our republic hangs in the balance, and Mooch is out there ROLEPLAYING Game of Thrones like his character is the Iron Bank of Braavos. Scaramucci is not a theocrat like Huckabee Sanders, he’s not even a true believer like Spicer. He’s just a jerk who thinks he’s so freaking smart he can moonlight as White House Communications Director for the lulz. HLS made him think he could get away with that.
For every unimpressive, useful idiot in Trump’s thrall, there is an immaculately credentialed elite who knows better but doesn’t care. For every Scott Pruitt (J.D. from Tulsa where they must have taught him that global warming is probably good), there’s a Kobach. Elite institutions like Harvard Law School don’t produce the worst people, but the people with elite training who nonetheless are willing to help Trump wreck the country are, in fact, the worst.
Maybe I can illustrate my point this way: I’ve got a Harvard Law degree, and I PROMISE YOU the only thing standing between me and a job in the Trump administration is my moral compass.
Think about it. I’m one of the more “openly black” writers on the internet, and almost certainly the only African-American legal analyst that you read. If I had, say two years ago, turned into Trumpian populist, it wouldn’t have even been that noticeable at first. “Trump’s Muslim Ban, Of Course It’s Constitutional.” “Why We Need A Statute Of Limitations On Sexual Assault Charges.” “Black-on-Black Crime Is A Bigger Problem Than Police Brutality.” Come on, folks. Ain’t a black person in the game that couldn’t raise his profile by turning on his race.
Don’t think Above the Law is a big enough platform to attract the attention of Trumpsters? Well, first of all, you should take a look at some of my hate mail. But in the meantime, go check out what HLS grad and former ATL columnist Kayleigh McEnany is doing now. I promise you guys, Trump would find some work for me.
But… what kind of person would I be if I did that? What kind of diseased infection on the American body politic would I become? When you are willing to ignore the damage you know you’re doing to the actual country, just because it helps your career, you are the worst among us.
That’s what elites who work for Trump are — the very worst among us. They know how the system works and are willing to break it to help themselves. Every time Trump hires one of these Harvard types, you should be very concerned. Because it means he’s found another person who is willing to trade away their integrity and human decency for just a little more.