Trump taps lawyer who left the Bush administration for being too authoritarian for top Navy job

This is how far respect for the rule of law has fallen.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File
CREDIT: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

Charles “Cully” Stimson left the Bush administration in disgrace. He’s now poised to become the Navy’s top lawyer.

In January of 2007, while serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, Stimson suggested that corporate clients should retaliate against law firms that represent Guantanamo Bay detainees —a statement that was widely viewed as an attempt to intimidate lawyers against representing detainees.

“When corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001,” Stimson said, “those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.” He also named over a dozen firms as possible targets of a corporate boycott.

Many Guantanamo detainees turned out to be innocent.

Charles “Cully” Stimson
Charles “Cully” Stimson

As a senior Pentagon official, Stimson was not simply expressing a political view when he suggested that corporate CEOs should choose law firms based on whether that firm represented certain clients who were adverse to the Bush administration. He was implying that this was the federal government’s stance on these firms — and that companies who did business with the wrong firms could potentially risk retaliation from the government itself.

In any event, Stimson’s remarks were swiftly disavowed by the Justice Department and the Pentagon. Then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that “good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases.” A Pentagon spokesperson said that Stimson’s remarks “do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the thinking of its leadership.”

Stimson resigned from his position in the Bush administration a few weeks after his comment about law firms representing detainees.

Yet, despite the circumstances of his resignation and the fact that his comments were widely condemned even within the Bush administration, Donald Trump now wants to welcome Stimson back into government.

After resigning from the Pentagon, Stimson took a job at the conservative Heritage Foundation, where he has called for harsh enforcement of federal marijuana laws, pinned the Benghazi attacks on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and argued that the “real crime in the Michael Flynn saga” is the fact that news of the former national security adviser’s alleged wrongdoing was leaked to the press.

One of Stimson’s publications for Heritage actually begins with the sentence “despite the challenges of a growing terrorist threat, the Obama administration has decided now is the right time to allow illegal immigrants to join the military.”

Stimson’s nomination can be blocked by the Senate.