Schiff: Trump trying to turn DOJ into ‘personal political tool’

Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee warned in a new op-ed that President Trump is trying to weaponize the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a “political tool” to do his bidding.

“What we have witnessed during the first year of the Trump Administration is a determined effort to demolish the separation between politics and the fair administration of justice—an attempt to turn the DOJ’s investigative powers into the personal political tool of the president,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote in Esquire in an op-ed published Saturday. {mosads}

“[I]t has become clear that the president views the idea that the DOJ should be anything other than an extension of his political operation as an unacceptable constraint on his authority,” he added.

The California lawmaker cited several examples that he views as inappropriate presidential oversteps, arguing that Trump is attempting to convert the DOJ into an institution that protects his presidency rather than faithfully pursuing justice.

Schiff pointed to Trump’s reported attempt last year to get then-FBI Director James Comey to make a pledge of loyalty to him at a time when the FBI was investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump allegedly also asked Comey to drop his probe into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. 

The president also asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the top DOJ official overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, whether he was Trump’s “team,” Schiff said.

Schiff also raised concern over the president’s pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reopen an investigation into his former campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton, as well as “publicly berating” Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Schiff argued in the op-ed that these incidences, among others, reveal that the president is trying to impose control over important institutions.

“Both the president’s public statements and his private actions make it clear that he is seeking nothing less than to destroy the institutions and norms that shield the Department of Justice from his direction,” Schiff writes.

Schiff argues these events are made far more concerning amid Mueller’s Russia probe, as well as the several congressional probes investigating the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“This is all the more pernicious considering the fact that his own campaign is under investigation for possible collusion with the Russians in their interference in the presidential election. He would take the reins of the FBI to protect himself and to deploy their immense investigative powers against his political opponents at will,” Schiff said.

Tags Adam Schiff Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Comey Jeff Sessions Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein

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