Department of Justice should be immune to pressure from Trump

Published on Monday, 28 May 2018 16:16

Los Angeles Times

For almost a year, Donald Trump’s rage about the investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia - or, as he calls it, “the greatest Witch Hunt in American History” - has threatened to provoke him to trigger a constitutional crisis by firing the lawyers leading that investigation or by making it impossible for them to do their jobs.

Trump seemed ready to cross that threshold. Pressing a conspiracy theory for which he had no evidence, the president tweeted that “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

This threat of intervention was ominous. If Trump was willing to order the Justice Department, which is supposed to act independently and without political influence, to instead pursue investigations that served him personally and politically, would he be equally willing to demand an end to one he considered a political liability?

The leadership of the Justice Department scrambled to try to placate the president without compromising its integrity any more than necessary.

If the Justice Department judges some information to be too sensitive to release, it shouldn’t change its opinion simply because the president applies pressure.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns on Monday, 28 May 2018 16:16. Updated: Monday, 28 May 2018 16:18.