Let the dogwhistle attacks begin! Monday morning was a blockbuster of a day. Mueller Monday. The day that the first arrests were made of Trump administration officials under sealed indictments. First on the chopping block were former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his partner Rick Gates. Manafort served as Trump’s campaign manager, then as a an “inside adviser” on a voluntary basis.
Manafort turned himself in Monday morning, walking into the court house by the front door with his legal representative. Inside, he stood before a U.S. Magistrate Judge to face charges running the gamut from money laundering to collusion against the U.S. government to hide foreign funds offshore. There were twelve counts in the sealed indictment. All of that was unremarkable. Not worthy of attention from Fox News. What did catch their attention, though, was that the presiding judge, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson, was both female and (OMG) Black.
Fox News is busy trying to discredit the judge in the Manafort case rather than reporting on the actual news. Their coverage started with naming some of the previous big name cases presided over by Robinson. Among them the drug use of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and the assault charges against NBA star Allen Iverson stemming from a drunken brawl in a bowling alley while he was in college.
Of course, they were pretty selective in which cases they mentioned — choosing only to cover those in which the verdict went against someone they liked or they felt the ruling was unjust. They glossed over all the cases where the ruling was against a Democrat. Since being sworn in as a federal judge in 1988, she has presided over a number of political and non-political cases, from both sides of the aisle, and seems to have ruled fairly in all.
Not really finding much to criticize on her bench record, they started digging into Robinson’s family matters, finding a son who was convicted of possession and intent to distribute heroin and sentenced to five years in prison in 2014, reporting that the judge had:
“…has experienced the criminal justice system firsthand — when her son was convicted of dealing heroin.”
As is common when going against any of the right wing’s selected heroes, the effort to discredit anyone that might hold sway is swift and targeted. Because she is black, and a woman, Robinson is already under scrutiny far more than a white, male judge would be. Just because she’s used to it doesn’t make it right, though.
Attacking judges is nothing new to the Trump camp. In 2016, during the campaign, now-president Donald Trump decided it would be a good thing to attack Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was at the time presiding over the Trump University lawsuit. Trump attacked him because he was Hispanic and Trump had been making some very disparaging comments about Mexicans, pushing the border wall, and just generally being an ass. Trump felt that the judge would be biased against him simply based on his heritage. So he attacked.
There is a diversity problem in U.S. court rooms, and attacks like this that target minority judges only serve to bring that problem closer to the surface. There is no reason to intrude on Robinson’s family issues. Her son did a thing and now he is in prison serving his time. It shouldn’t and doesn’t reflect on her ability to rule fairly in any case brought before her.