Trump Announces He’s Considering Interfering With Justice Department Investigations

The threat comes amid the Russia probe and the president’s calls for prosecutions of Hillary Clinton and James Comey.

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House during the French state visit on Tuesday.Alex Edelman/CNP via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

President Donald Trump suggested during an interview on Fox & Friends Thursday that he might become involved in the work of in his Justice Department—a threat that could signal a desire by the commander in chief to interfere with investigations into his campaign and business associates, as well as investigations relating to his perceived political enemies.

“I’ve taken the position—and I don’t have to take this position, and maybe I’ll change—that I will not be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump said. “I will wait till this is over,” he added, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow and, reportedly, potential obstruction of justice by Trump.

The Justice Department and the FBI are supposed to maintain independence and avoid political interference in criminal investigations and prosecutions. But Trump has expressed a desire for an attorney general who will shield him from investigations. Since taking office, Trump has fired former FBI Director James Comey and pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe. Trump has also reportedly considered removing other top-ranking Justice Department officials, including Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia probe against Trump’s wishes; Mueller; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed and oversees Mueller; and FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom Trump appointed to replace Comey. Trump may have been referring to some of these people on Thursday when he said, “They have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn’t be there.”

Trump has also repeatedly suggested the DOJ should prosecute some of his critics, including Hillary Clinton and Comey.

Trump returned to the issue of Justice Department independence a minute later. “I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department,” he said. “But because of the fact that it’s going on, and I think you’ll understand that, I have decided that I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

At the end of the free-wheeling Fox interview, Trump returned to the issue a third time, accusing top FBI officials of corruption, and in particular criticizing McCabe, who was recently fired by Sessions over allegations that McCabe had made misleading statements about his actions relating to the FBI’s 2016 investigation into Clinton. “Our Justice Department—which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t—our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” the president said. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate