Trump Declares Himself The ‘Chief Law Enforcement Officer’ Of The U.S.
President Donald Trump has emerged from impeachment looking to show the world that he is not only above the law but that he is, in fact, the law itself.
While the president has taken several steps since his Senate acquittal in an apparent attempt to prove this point, he outright said as much on Tuesday while defending his recent efforts to intervene in a Justice Department case last week.
“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” Trump told reporters, according to The Washington Post. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”
In fact, it is the attorney general who serves as America's top law enforcement official.
The president’s assertion came after he was criticized — and suffered a rare public rebuke from his own attorney general — for trying to interfere in the case of his friend Roger Stone, who was convicted on several charges in November as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
But that wasn’t the president’s only move to showcase his newfound power post-impeachment: “On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process,” The Post reported. He also set about punishing officials who testified against him during the impeachment inquiry.
All of these moves alarmed Attorney General William Barr, who reportedly has told people close to Trump that he might quit if the president does not cease commenting publicly on ongoing Justice Department cases.
Numerous legal experts and former officials have expressed similar alarm, saying that Trump’s “direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.”
Carmen Ortiz, the former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts under President Barack Obama, told The Post: “I’ve worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and I’ve just never seen behavior like what we're seeing right now.”
Ortiz was one of more than 2,000 former Justice Department employees who “signed a public letter this week objecting to Trump’s public intervention in the case of his longtime friend Roger Stone, and urging Barr to resign.”
Barr said last week during an interview with ABC News that Trump’s incessant tweeting about ongoing criminal cases was making it “impossible for me to do my job” — but that has not stopped the president.
On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that agrees somewhat with his attorney general that his tweeting makes Barr’s job difficult, but he plans to keep doing it anyway.
“Social media, for me, has been very important because it gives me a voice,” Trump said.
Also on Tuesday, the president tweeted that prosecutions resulting from the Mueller investigation are “badly tainted” and “should be thrown out,” The Post reported.
“If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place,” Trump wrote. “BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL. WITCH HUNT!”