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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 YatesThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from chaotic downtown DC Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general Georgia keeps Senate agenda in limbo MORE swiped at President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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 StoneWould Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts Presidential pardons need to go 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 BarrBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Two-thirds say the election was fair: poll The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other 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.