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The Trump administration’s persistent attacks on the independence of law enforcement present a serious threat to our democracy. The following is a catalogue of interference with the Department of Justice (DOJ) by President Trump and others in his administration, coded by violation type. We will update the Law Enforcement Interference Tracker regularly.

Please click here for a spreadsheet version of this data.

Expand below for descriptions of the types of violations this White House has engaged in and a timeline of violations.

Violation Category Definitions

The following typology categorizes the ways in which President Trump and the Trump White House have undermined the long-standing and bipartisan belief that the laws of the United States should be administered and enforced in an impartial manner and, accordingly, that politics should not play any part — or even appear to play a part — in the Department of Justice’s investigative and enforcement operations involving specific parties. Political interference in law enforcement matters involving specific parties is unconstitutional and undermines the rule of law.

Violation Code Problem Examples
President Intervening in DOJ Matters to Protect Himself, His Campaign, His Allies, or His Friends

“Putting the President and Allies Above the Law”

Presidential interventions in single party matters risk partisan favoritism and arbitrary, unequal justice — both of which run contrary to the fundamental American belief that all Americans are entitled to equal justice under the law. When the President intervenes in DOJ matters involving himself, his campaign, his allies, and/or his friends, he abuses the power of his office in order to protect and promote his own interests, not those of the country. The norms around interactions between the President and DOJ exist to prevent the exercise of unaccountable influence targeted at specific matters that may have personal or political interest to the President, or those simply in his good graces. Interventions of this sort break down the necessary division between the White House and DOJ and undermine DOJ independence.

Simply put, in a democracy the President does not get to pick winners and losers — rather, the law must be enforced equally as to all individuals, regardless of their relationship with the President. Presidential interventions in how the law is enforced against a specific party — whether to the benefit or the detriment of that party — will often violate the President’s constitutional obligation to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, as well as core constitutional principles of due process, equal treatment under the law, and the First Amendment right to participate in the political process. See our White Paper for more information on the constitutionality of these actions.

Trump’s interference in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation; Firing former FBI Director James Comey; Pardoning Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
President Weaponizing Law Enforcement Against Political Opponents and Dissenters When the President threatens to use his power to prosecute other politicians, he undermines the rule of law, weakens democracy, and violates the fundamental rights of those who wish to participate in the political process. Even the threat of prosecution constitutes a systematic threat to U.S. democracy, as authoritarians regularly prosecute and jail their opponents, using criminal prosecution as a tool for political vengeance. Backsliding democratic countries have witnessed such threats, and offer a warning sign for our own democracy where President Trump unabashedly attacks and threatens his political opponents with prosecution. Threatening Hillary Clinton and former aide Huma Abedin with prosecution; Attempting to block AT&T-Time-Warner merger
President Demanding Loyalty from DOJ Officials The Department of Justice’s mission is to “enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; . . . to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” The effectiveness of DOJ rests on the public’s confidence — and the reality — that DOJ is above ideology and partisanship in its enforcement of the law.

By law, all DOJ officials swear fealty to the constitution in the following oath of office: “I . . . do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” 5 U.S.C. § 3331. President Trump’s loyalty demands from various DOJ officials undermines the Department’s impartiality, independence, and this very oath. See here for a Politico article with more information on Trump’s loyalty demands.

Loyalty demands of Former FBI Director James Comey, Former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, etc; US Attorney interviews; Pressure on Attorney General Sessions
Improper White House Staff Contacts with DOJ For decades, to prevent even the appearance of political meddling in federal law enforcement, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have had written policies governing White House contacts with agencies and offices within the executive branch that have investigatory and enforcement responsibilities. To ensure the impartial application of the laws, these policies have extended to White House contacts with any executive branch agency or office regarding investigations, enforcement actions, regulatory decisions, grants and contracts involving specific parties. It has been consistent policy that communications between the White House and DOJ about any ongoing case, investigation, or adjudicative matter should take place only when necessary for the discharge of the President’s constitutional duties and appropriate from a law enforcement perspective. By channeling all communications through a small number of high-level officials, and especially through the White House Counsel’s Office, this policy has helped ensure that the officials most familiar with this policy and the reasons underlying it are the only ones to engage in these communications in order to ensure proper compliance.

Although President Trump’s White House has issued a memorandum that theoretically limits White House communications with the Department of Justice, the White House has routinely violated that policy.

See our agency contacts memo for more information.

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus contacts the FBI re Russia; Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci threatening to call FBI
Undermining DOJ Integrity and Impartiality The President and his surrogates have questioned DOJ’s integrity and impartiality in a number of cases. The effectiveness of DOJ rests on the public’s confidence — and the reality — that DOJ is above ideology and partisanship in its enforcement of the law. These attacks serve to undermine DOJ’s credibility in the public’s mind and paint law enforcement as biased and partial. Calling Attorney General Sessions “weak”; Suggesting DOJ is wiretapping Trump; Suggesting DOJ is protecting Hillary Clinton
Other Improper White House Involvement in DOJ Enforcement This category includes other various instances of inappropriate White House involvement in DOJ matters that serve to undermine the impartiality and independence of DOJ. All of the examples in this category upend established norms surrounding contact between the White House and DOJ. They very clearly cross the line of political meddling in federal law enforcement. Trump suggesting the death penalty for NY terror attacker; DOJ officials conducting briefings on enforcement matters from the White House podium

 

Timeline of Violations

May 10, 2018

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

Vice President Pence on NBC’s Today show:

“What I think is that it’s been about a year since this investigation began…Our administration has provided over a million documents, we’ve fully cooperated in it and in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up.”

 

May 2, 2018

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

April 26, 2018

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

President Trump Interview on Fox & Friends:

“You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI. It’s a disgrace.”

“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. I will wait until this is over.”

“Because of the fact that they have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn’t be there, they have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on, 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.”

“Our Justice Department, which I try to stay away from, but pretty soon I won’t.”

April 2, 2018

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

March 18, 2018

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

March 17, 2018

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

February 28, 2018

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

February 27, 2018

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

February 24, 2018

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

In a Fox News interview with Judge Jeanine Pirro, Trump suggests that Mueller should investigate Democrats because of a House Intelligence Committee Democratic memo that defends against the Nunes memo :

“[A] lot of bad things happened on the other side … and somebody should look into it. Because what they did is really fraudulent and somebody should be looking into that. And by somebody, I’m talking about you-know-who.”

 

February 14, 2018

VIOLATING WHITE HOUSE CONTACTS POLICIES

The Washington Post reports that White House counsel Donald McGahn made a call last April to Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente in an effort to persuade the FBI director to announce that Trump was not personally under investigation in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

February 2, 2018

ATTACKING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

February 2, 2018

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

January 22, 2018

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

According to a Bloomberg report, Trump met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray at the White House to

“discuss missing text messages sent between two FBI agents who had expressed anti-Trump views. Kelly held separate meetings or phone calls with senior Justice Department officials last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to convey Trump’s displeasure and lecture them on the White House’s expectations, according to the people. Kelly has taken to ending such conversations with a disclaimer that the White House isn’t expecting officials to do anything illegal or unethical.”

January 17, 2018

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

Ed O’Callaghan, a principal deputy assistant attorney general for national security, and a former member of the Trump transition team, briefs reporters from the White House podium.

January 2, 2018

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

December 28, 2017

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

President Trump in a New York Times Interview:

“I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.”

December 8, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

At a campaign-style rally in Florida, the crowd breaks out in a “lock her up” chant.

November 8, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

According to a NBC News report, the Trump Administration may be inappropriately evaluating the AT&T-Time Warner merger in an attempt to punish CNN for critical coverage.

November 5, 2017

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

Sharyl Attkisson Interviews Trump on Full Measure

Attkisson:

“Are you aware of any investigations by Department of Justice of the Clinton?”

Trump:

“You know I’d love to be much more involved but I’m not supposed to be involved with Department of Justice so I have to hope that they run themselves well. But as you know as president you’re not supposed to be involved with the Department of Justice. A lot of people ask me that question I give them that answer and they say oh now I understand. But they could very well be looking at it.”

November 3, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

Trump delivers a statement and answers questions prior to leaving for a trip to Asia:

Reporter:

“Will you fire Jeff Sessions if the Justice department doesn’t take action?”

Trump:

“I don’t know. I’m really not involved with the Justice Department. I’d like to let it run itself, but honestly they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things, and a lot of people have disappointed in the Justice Department, including me. Thank you everybody. Thank you.”

November 3, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

November 3, 2017

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

In a radio interview with Larry O’Connor, Trump states his frustration with his inability to get the DOJ to do his bidding:

“The saddest thing is, because I am the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated by that. I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her dossier, and the kind of money — I don’t know, is it possible that they paid $12.4 million for the dossier, which is total phony, fake, fraud and how is it used?

It’s very discouraging to me. I’ll be honest, I’m very unhappy with it, that the Justice Department isn’t going — maybe they are but you know as President, and I think you understand this, as a President you’re not supposed to be involved in that process. But hopefully they are doing something and at some point, maybe we are gonna all have it out.”

November 2, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

November 2, 2017

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

November 1, 2017

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

October 31, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

October 30, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

October 29, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

October 19, 2017

PRESIDENT DEMANDING LOYALTY FROM DOJ OFFICIALS

According to a CNN report, Trump personally interviewed two candidates for US attorney positions in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Both candidates have connections to the law firms of Trump associates. The report says:

“Geoffrey Berman, an attorney at the firm that currently employs Rudy Giuliani as a leading partner, met with Trump about a position atop the Southern District of New York, which covers Manhattan. Ed McNally, a partner at the New York law firm founded by Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz interviewed for the Eastern District of New York, overseeing Brooklyn.”

July 27, 2017

VIOLATING WHITE HOUSE CONTACTS POLICIES

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci threatens to call the FBI and request that they open an investigation into leaks, or suggests an investigation is ongoing which he may be able to learn informaiton about directly from the FBI.

July 25, 2017

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker, Trump says:

“But, no, I’m very disappointed in the fact that the Justice Department has not gone after the leakers. And they’re the ones that have the great power to go after the leakers, you understand. So — and I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”

July 25, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

July 24, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

July 22, 2017

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

July 19, 2017

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

In a New York Times interview, Trump claims, falsely, that the FBI director reports directly to the president:

“But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.”

June 15, 2017

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

President Trump tries to convince NSA Chief Mike Rogers to state publicly that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

June 8, 2017

PRESIDENT DEMANDING LOYALTY FROM DOJ OFFICIALS

Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence written testimony states that Trump said to him over dinner:

“I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”

May 11, 2017

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

In an NBC News interview with Lester Holt, Trump says of his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey:

“And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

 

Trump:

“I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it’s possible, would you let me know if I am under investigation? He said you are not under investigation.”

 

March 15, 2017

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

According to an International Business Times report, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish spoke with Trump as Anthem continues to push for its proposed merger with Cigna.

March 12, 2017

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS

President Trump calls U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara – unclear to what end, but creating the possible perception of inappropriate political interference with DOJ. The Attorney General’s office agrees Bharara should not return the call.

March 4, 2017

VIOLATING WHITE HOUSE CONTACTS POLICIES

White House Counsel Don McGahn reportedly requests FISA Court order authorizing some form of surveillance of Mr. Trump and his associates.

February 24, 2017

VIOLATING WHITE HOUSE CONTACTS POLICIES

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asks the FBI to correct press reports about Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials.

February 18, 2017

VIOLATING WHITE HOUSE CONTACTS POLICIES

White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller allegedly instructed the Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office how to defend Muslim ban.

November 5, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

Speech at Campaign Rally in Tampa, FL

Trump:

“However, the reports also show that the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying very hard and as hard as they can to protect their angel, Hillary.

I just found a second mike. I’m probably being wired or tapped here. That’s got to be the Justice Department doing that. Saying, where does this mike — I’m saying to myself, where the hell did the second mike come from?

The Department of Justice, if that happened to anybody else, they would have been in jail two years ago, folks, OK? What she did. Then she illegally destroyed — and this is — this is — forget about what happened last Friday. I’m talking about the past. Forget about that — that’s all gravy, whatever happened. What she did in the past is so bad. She destroyed 30,000 — remember this — 33,000 e-mails after receiving a congressional subpoena — the key word being after” — and made 13 phones disappear…”

November 3, 2016

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

Speech at Campaign Rally in Jacksonville, FL

Trump:

“…And reports also show the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying to protect Hillary Clinton, and is interfering with the FBI’s criminal investigation.”

November 2, 2016

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

Speech at Campaign Rally in Miami, FL

Trump:

“The spread of political agendas into the Justice Department — there’s never been a thing like this that has happened in our country’s history — is one of the saddest things that has happened to our country. But with your vote you can beat the system, the rigged system, and deliver justice. So, show up early and vote.”

October 29, 2016

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

Speech at Campaign Rally at the Phoenix Convention Center

Trump:

“What has our country come to? Ninety-seven percent of the Department of Justice employees, all of their presidential contributions, just about 97 percent, went to Hillary Clinton. I don’t think they like me.”

October 17, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

October 14, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

Campaign Rally Speech in Greensboro, NC

Trump:

“…For what — for what she’s done, they should lock her up, they should. It’s disgraceful. Honestly, it’s disgraceful. What’s going on in our country right now is a disgrace. The Hillary Clinton documents released by WikiLeaks make more clear than ever just how much is at stake on November the 8th. WikiLeaks released new Clinton campaign e-mails revealing how friendly Hillary was with the attorney general, Loretta Lynch…”

October 12, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

At a campaign rally in Panama Beach City, Florida, Trump says:

“Corruption and collusion is just one more reason why I will ask my attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor,” and later added that “[s]he has to go to jail.”

October 9, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

2nd Presidential Debate Between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Clinton:

“It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.”

Trump:

“Because you’d be in jail.”

August 31, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

At a campaign rally in Phoenix, AZ, Trump told the crowd that as president he would create a:

“…special deportation task force” to “find the most dangerous illegals who have evaded justice. Just like Hillary Clinton has evaded justice. Maybe they will be able to deport her.”

July 18, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn leads RNC crowd in “lock her up” chant:

June 3, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

Campaign Rally Speech in Redding, CA

Trump:

“She should be in jail. She should be in jail for what she did with those e-mails.”

May 13, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

In a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Trump threatens Amazon as payback for Washington Post coverage of his campaign:

“Yeah — it’s interesting that you say that, because every hour we’re getting calls from reporters from the Washington Post asking ridiculous questions and I will tell you, this is owned as a toy by Jeff Bezos who controls Amazon. Amazon is getting away with murder tax-wise. He’s using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don’t tax Amazon like they should be taxed. He’s getting absolutely away, he’s worried about me and I think he said that to somebody, it was in some article where he thinks I would go after him for antitrust because he’s got a huge antitrust problem because he’s controlling so much, Amazon is controlling so much of what they’re doing and what they’ve done is he bought this paper for practically nothing and he’s using that as a tool for political power against me and against other people and I’ll tell you what, we can let him get away with it.

So he’s got about 20-25. I just heard, they’re taking these really bad stories, I mean they’re wrong, I wouldn’t even say bad, they’re wrong and in many cases they have no proper information and they’re putting them together, they’re slopping them together and they’re going to do a book and the book is going to be all false stuff up because the stories are so wrong and the reporters, I mean one after another. So what they’re doing is — he’s using that as a political instrument to try and stop antitrust; which he thinks I believe he’s antitrust, another word’s what he’s got it’s a monopoly and he wants to make sure I don’t get in. So it’s one of those things but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what — what he’s doing’s wrong and the people are …. the whole system is rigged, you see a case like that, the whole system is rigged — whether it’s Hillary or whether it’s Bezos. He’s using the Washington Post which is peanuts, he’s using that for political purposes to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust.”

April 27, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

MSNBC: Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski Interview Donald Trump

Trump:

“…She’s – she’s guilty. Everybody knows she’s guilty, but they don’t want to – they don’t want to go after her. I — it’s going to be an interesting thing, but she’s got a problem because people at the far left are sitting in jail cells…”

January 26, 2016

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

Campaign Rally Speech in Iowa City, IA

Trump:

“…the Hillary Clinton stuff I mean she should be going to jail…”

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