Attorney General Leslie Rutledge got back from a vacation to south Texas and called reporters to a briefing Wednesday to announce that she’d had a good time.
Her getaway was for a reunion of right-wing Republican state attorneys general who supported Donald Trump’s attempt to steal the last election, in part through a frivolous lawsuit filed by the attorney general of Texas.
Rutledge revealed to Arkansas reporters that she had discovered on this trip that she could drive easily from Arkansas to Texas, which means, she explained, that persons crossing from Mexico into Texas illegally could drive as easily the other way to hand out opiates to Arkansans.
She said she saw firsthand that the wall between Texas and Mexico–the one Trump built and Mexico paid for, if you’ll recall–was not finished.
She said she took the opportunity during this vacation to attend the party where Trump said that, if placed back into the presidency rightfully his, he’d pardon the insurrectionists he inspired to break into the U.S. Capitol to try to stop officials from abiding by the U.S. Constitution to certify his 7-million-vote drubbing by Joe Biden.
Rutledge said she had no opinion on whether it would be right or wrong for Trump to pardon those people. She said that was a hypothetical question, meaning it’s based on the contingency of Trump becoming president again. Therefore, she need not bother herself for now about right and wrong.
She said the attorney general should not engage in hypothetical matters, except, presumably, the one that Mexicans could walk through the Texas-Mexico border and then drive into Arkansas and distribute prescription pain-killers.
Actually, part of what the attorney general does in her job is issue nonbinding opinions on hypothetical questions posed by state officeholders. Well, she doesn’t do that herself. She has practicing lawyers to do it. She’s mainly running for lieutenant governor, a job she previously announced she didn’t want because there’s nothing to it.
After all, Texas had not invited lieutenant governors to any reunion.
Rutledge had dissed the lieutenant governor’s office only hypothetically. She did it before a poll showed that Sarah Sanders would shut her out in a Republican primary for governor.
Also hypothetical was whether this trip was free or had any cost associated with it that might be borne by taxpayers, assuming they have any money left after Rutledge’s running all those personal and campaign ads on the local news.
Asked by a newspaper about the trip’s cost, a spokesman for Rutledge’s office said there were at this point no documents or invoices available with which to respond to the question. There was no explanation as to what happened to them.
Hypothetically, perhaps what happened was that the attorney general dropped her credit-card receipts into the raging waters of the Rio Grande and neither she nor any aide knew how to check the account online.
The event hosts were the Texas governor and Texas attorney general. That attorney general, you’ll recall, filed a direct petition in late 2020 with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to overturn the election returns from four states, none his own. The petition sought to invalidate those four states’ results on the legal argument that Trump lost those four states.
Later, the dark-money fund of the Republican Attorneys General Association–of which Rutledge is a member–paid for and placed robo-calls to a mailing list of yahoos urging these yahoos to travel to Washington on Jan. 6. Once there, these yahoos were inspired by Trump to break windows at the U.S. Capitol and overrun police officers to try to get to Vice President Mike Pence to prevent him from presiding over the constitutionally mandated certification of the Electoral College results affirming the aforementioned drubbing by Biden of Trump.
At any rate, Rutledge and friends had much to recall and celebrate, including that they signed their states on to that aforementioned Texas attorney general’s petition.
As it turned out, even a Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court containing three nominees of Trump had no choice under the Constitution other than to dismiss the pleading without comment. That’s because it was unworthy, being nonsense.
One state’s attorney general and a few me-too attorneys general do not have standing to stick their noses into the sovereign elections of other states.
Otherwise, think about it: California could go to the U.S. Supreme Court with a petition that it overturn Rutledge’s likely forthcoming election as lieutenant governor of Arkansas on the argument that, strange though it seemed, her placement a heartbeat from any American state governorship was somehow even more ill-advised than Sarah Sanders’ actually inhabiting any American governorship.
That wouldn’t be California’s business, supportive evidence notwithstanding.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at jb[email protected]. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.