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Rod Rosenstein Praises Trump — And Extols Rule Of Law

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Speaking to the Anti-Defamation League, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general at the center of President Donald Trump’s contentious relationship with his Justice Department, extolled the rule of law.

Rosenstein’s speech to the group, which itself has an adversarial relationship with the Trump administration, was on the surface a paean to Trump’s better angels, depicting Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions as fellow warriors with the Anti-Defamation League in the battle against bias crimes.

But it was also a strident defense of adherence to the rule of law, with a long aside about the merits of resisting a ruler’s illegal orders. “We study the Holocaust not only to understand the depths of depravity that people can perpetrate, but also as a reminder to guard against the risk of moral corruption in our own time,” he said. “The importance of enforcing the rule of law is a central lesson of the Holocaust.”

The speech’s centerpiece was Rosenstein’s praise for the plea for unity Trump delivered in the aftermath of a racially charged killing — but Trump, notably, later retreated from those remarks, much to the chagrin of Jewish groups.

“One way that the Department of Justice helps to enforce the rule of law and deter discrimination is to prosecute hate crime violations,” Rosenstein, who is Jewish, said Sunday night at ADL’s annual Washington conference. “When victims are attacked because of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, there are laws that empower us to respond. Enforcing those laws is important to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, and we enforce them aggressively.”

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