A Stanford law professor who was called to testify at Wednesday ’s (Dec. 4) House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the impeachment of President Trump created a controversy when she made a joke that mentioned 13-year-old Barron Trump.
Pamela Karlan had been asked to describe the differences between a U.S. president and a king when she brought up the first son’s name.
“The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” Karlan told lawmakers.
Two hours later, Melania Trump tweeted a rebuke from Air Force One as she returned with her husband from the NATO summit in London.
“A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,’” tweeted the first lady.
Then Mrs. Trump’s words were read aloud during the hearing as it stretched into its eighth hour.
Several minutes later, Karlan apologized.
“I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president’s son,” she said, noting she was happy to admit when she was wrong. “I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things he’s done that are wrong, but I do regret having said that,” said Karlan, who teaches constitutional law.
Violated an unwritten rule
The Associated Press noted that Karlan, a former Obama administration Justice Department official, had violated an “unwritten but firm Washington rule against dragging the first family’s children into politics.”
Then Barron’s older brother, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted, “Remember only children of liberals (even the 50 year old children) are off limits. That a 13-year-old is fair game for partisan hacks on a national platform shows you all (what) you need to know about the new left and who is now running the ship.”
Don Jr. was likely referring to Hunter Biden, the 49-year-old son of former Vice President Joe Biden, whose $1 million-a-year job in Ukraine started the impeachment snowball rolling.
Prior to Mrs. Trump’s reaction, the White House’s Twitter account said, “Democrats are calling as witnesses the kind of people who would name the minor child of the president as a punchline in a committee hearing.”
The back-and-forth over Barron Trump drew the attention of Kellyanne Conway’s husband, anti-Trump lawyer George Conway, who said Trump’s supporters were using the teenager as a political human shield to excuse what he said were the president’s crimes.
“You’re amplifying what was a nothingburger reference a 100,000-fold. Got it,” Conway said in response to the first lady.
He then accused the Trump administration of making Barron a public figure and said the “fake outrage” is a greater violation of the boy’s privacy than anything Karlan said.
Karlan, 60, is a Yale Law School graduate who went on to clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.
In 1998, she joined the faculty of Stanford Law School. In 2003, she was appointed to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. In 2013, she was appointed by the Obama administration to serve as deputy assistant attorney general for voting rights.
— From staff and wire reports