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Sally Yates blasts Trump for using DOJ as 'personal grudge squad'

Sally Yates blasts Trump for using DOJ as 'personal grudge squad'
© Greg Nash

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesABC lands first one-on-one TV interview with Garland since confirmation Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult There was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder MORE swiped at President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE in an opinion piece published Friday in The Washington Post, accusing him of using the Department of Justice (DOJ) as "his personal grudge squad" after the handling of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneThe FBI should turn off the FARA faucet Michael Cohen on Giuliani's legal fees: He won't get 'two cents' from Trump Cohen on Giuliani: 'Chickens coming home to roost' MORE's case.

"From virtually the moment he took office, President Trump has attempted to use the Justice Department as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies," Yates wrote. "The president has attempted to order up investigations of his perceived political enemies and enlist the department to protect his friends. With every blow, the wall of Justice independence has wobbled a bit more. This week, it teetered on the verge of collapse."

The op-ed comes after Trump asserted Friday that he has "the legal right" to insert himself into the Justice Department's handling of criminal cases. Those remarks came a day after Attorney General William BarrBill BarrCNN legal analyst joins DOJ's national security division Barr threatened to resign over Trump attempts to fire Wray: report DOJ faces big decision on home confinement MORE said in an ABC News interview that the president's tweets were making his job more difficult.

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Trump faces scrutiny for the appearance of interfering in Justice Department affairs after he decried the prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Stone, a former associate, as a "miscarriage of justice" just hours before the department said it would reduce its recommendation.

Barr has insisted that there was no interference by the president, but Trump argued on Friday that it would be legal if he were to ask Barr to take action in a criminal case.

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Yates went on to call out Trump's comments, saying they reveal "yet again that he regards the department as his personal grudge squad."

"The Justice Department is not a tool of any president to be used for retribution or camouflage," she wrote.

Yates was fired by Trump in 2017 after she refused to defend his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries. Since then she has been an outspoken critic of the president, especially his dealings with the Justice Department.

In 2018, she condemned his request that the Justice Department look into alleged abuses of surveillance powers to target his 2016 presidential campaign, calling it an "assault on the rule of law." And before his impeachment, Yates said Trump would be indicted on obstruction of justice if he weren't the president.