John Krull: Todd and Donald, a love story

The other day, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita endorsed former President Donald Trump’s campaign to return to the White House.

That’s right. The elected official responsible for making sure our state’s laws are enforced and defended threw his weight behind a man who has been indicted four times on 91 counts of breaking the law. Among those 91 counts are charges that amount to compromising America’s security and betraying his oath of office as president of the United States by seeking to overturn a national election through unlawful and violent means.

Why on earth would an attorney general anywhere choose to endorse such a man?

Perhaps we should not be surprised that our attorney general would align himself with a man who treats both the laws of this land and the oath he took to defend them — with his hand on the Bible, no less — with contempt.

Rokita is a man, after all, who not long ago was reprimanded by the Indiana Supreme Court for blatantly violating professional standards of conduct. Rokita acknowledged in an affidavit — under penalty of perjury — that he had done so.

Then, in a statement his office released after the reprimand had been announced, Rokita revoked his acknowledgement of responsibility.

This about-face prompted people to wonder at which time the attorney general was telling the truth — when he submitted the affidavit, again under penalty of perjury, or when he was speaking to the people of this state in his public statement. Either way, at one of those times he clearly wasn’t speaking the truth.

Rokita’s disavowal of any wrongdoing in the statement also encouraged prominent voices in the state’s legal community — some of them members of Rokita’s own Republican Party — to demand fresh disciplinary action against him.

The attorney general’s disciplinary troubles sprang from his vendetta against Indiana Dr. Caitlin Bernard. Last year, Bernard performed an abortion for a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been raped. The doctor did so with the knowledge and consent of the girl’s parents and in compliance with all applicable laws.

Rokita did not bother to determine any of that before he rushed to get in front of the cameras at Fox News. The little girl’s trauma, after all, presented the Indiana attorney general with a political opportunity to exploit — a chance to cultivate favor with the hard right.

Before the cameras, Rokita charged Bernard with offenses so outrageous that even Fox almost immediately disavowed them. He also pledged to launch an investigation into the doctor’s conduct.

Normally, charges — much less, conclusions of guilt — come after an investigation rather than before it, but our attorney general doesn’t care much for such legal niceties.

The Indiana Supreme Court ultimately reprimanded Rokita for speaking intemperately in a way that had no purpose “other than to embarrass or burden the physician.” Three of the justices on the court voted in favor of the slap on the wrist.

The other two — including the chief justice — dissented because they wanted Rokita to receive a more severe punishment.

In his endorsement of Trump, Rokita lamented a “weaponized justice system” that sought to harass the former president.

This gets to the heart of what ties these ethically challenged huckster politicians together. In Todd Rokita’s world, stealing secret documents and treating them as party favors at a resort in a fashion that puts Americans defending this country’s interests in danger does not constitute any sort of offense to law or decency. Nor does summoning a mob to overthrow a duly elected president.

But abusing the power of one’s office to persecute a doctor who complied with all applicable laws while helping a horribly victimized little girl is all right.

No, that’s not weaponizing the justice system at all. No wonder Todd Rokita likes Donald Trump so much.

Both these guys love to start fights. Then they whine like hungry babies when someone steps up to finish them.

John Krull is director of Franklin College‚Äôs Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students, where this commentary originally appeared. The opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the views of Franklin College. Send comments to [email protected].