Donald Trump can’t seem to get it through his head that the Justice Department is not his personal legal firm. The New York Times reports that last year, after Trump forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he called Matthew Whitaker, his interim attorney general, with a question about the Russia investigation:
He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.
Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to “jump on a grenade” for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge because Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.
Trying to install a perceived loyalist atop a widening inquiry is a familiar tactic for Mr. Trump, who has been struggling to beat back the investigations that have consumed his presidency. His efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump denies this, of course, which means nothing. He probably did it, and Mueller probably knows he did it—which means that by trying to make the obstruction of justice allegations go away, Trump made them worse instead. He just can’t seem to stop digging, can he?