(FILES) This file photo taken on February 9, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump alongside US Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions was sworn in as...
SAUL LOEB

Trump raises stakes in effort to politicize federal law enforcement

Updated

In the Fox News interview that aired yesterday, Donald Trump again went on the offensive against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, condemning his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, insisting that that Alabama Republican “never took control of the Justice Department,” and whining about Sessions not targeting the White House’s political enemies.

A Washington Post  report explained that the interview summarized nicely why the president has been so frustrated with the Justice Department: “He sees questions about possible illegal activity by himself and his campaign as intrusive, unfair and unwarranted and sees his political opponents as necessarily corrupt. The Department of Justice should be a vehicle that serves Trump’s needs, not the country’s, and when it doesn’t reflect that prioritization, it’s failing.”

Trump drove the point home in a pair of tweets this morning, directed specifically at his attorney general, who explained yesterday that federal law enforcement would not be improperly influenced by political considerations.

“ ‘Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.’ Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the ‘other side’ including deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA abuse, Christopher Steele & his phony and corrupt Dossier, the Clinton Foundation, illegal surveillance of Trump Campaign, Russian collusion by Dems - and so much more.

“Open up the papers & documents without redaction? Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!”

There’s no reason to go point by point, refuting each of Trump’s dubious allegations. It’s the broader point that matters: from the president’s perspective, he doesn’t want to politicize law enforcement; he just wants the attorney general to target the president’s domestic enemies and be subservient to the White House’s partisan agenda.

In his mind, when it’s a Trump ally who’s facing legal jeopardy, it’s necessarily evidence of the Justice Department doing something wrong, and when a Trump enemy isn’t facing legal jeopardy, it’s also necessarily evidence of the Justice Department failing.

The president would have us believe Sessions could demonstrate his independence by bringing Justice Department decisions in line with the White House’s partisan agenda.

Yes, that’s the opposite of what “independence” means. No, Trump doesn’t care.

To be sure, this isn’t the first time we’ve confronted evidence of the president abusing his position in the hopes of using federal law enforcement as a political attack dog, but Trump’s efforts are becoming more brazen.

In theory, this is the sort thing that rule-of-law Republicans would object to, but yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and his successor if Republicans maintain their majority, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both signaled their comfort with Trump firing Sessions.

Grassley and Graham had previously warned the president not to even consider such a move, but yesterday, they adopted a very different posture.

If Trump takes advantage of the Republican senators’ green light, he would not only be in a position to choose an attorney general who would take political orders from the White House, he’d also nominate someone who would conceivably oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Watch this space.

Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and Justice Department

Trump raises stakes in effort to politicize federal law enforcement

Updated