Top Intel Dem to Trump: Justice Dept belongs 'to the American people,' not you

Top Intel Dem to Trump: Justice Dept belongs 'to the American people,' not you
© Getty Images

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOfficers offer harrowing accounts at first Jan. 6 committee hearing Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (Calif.) fired back at President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE after the commander in chief asserted he has the “absolute right” to do what he wants with the Department of Justice, telling Trump “no, you don’t.”

“You can do what you want with your golf courses,” Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted Friday. “But the country and its Justice Department belong to the American people."

In an interview with The New York Times Thursday, Trump was asked if he would reopen an investigation into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Women's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement MORE’s email use during her time as secretary of State.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter," Trump said.

Schiff has emerged as one of the White House's chief critics over special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation into Russia's election meddling, saying evidence of coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign looks "pretty damning." 

"The Russians offered help. The campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help. And the president made full use of that help," Schiff said earlier this month.

Trump said during this week's interview it was “too bad” that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE recused himself from the investigation. Trump compared Sessions to former President Obama’s attorney general, Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderBiden under pressure to pick new breed of federal prosecutors Obama says Senate will vote again on voting rights Obama: Voting rights bill must pass before next election MORE.

“I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him,” Trump told the newspaper. “When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.”

Trump has previously railed against the Justice Department, calling for an investigation into Clinton and other Democrats and saying “a lot of people are disappointed” by the department.

Those comments drew ire from Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.), who blasted Trump in November, calling the remarks “totally inappropriate” and saying Trump’s comments "not only undermine our justice system but erode the American people’s confidence in our institutions.”