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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 this timeline regularly.

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

Putting the President and Allies Above the Law

(81)

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 Attacking Political Opponents and Dissenters

(115)

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

(17)

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

(13)

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

(209)

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

(13)

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; Threatening to directly supervise the Department of Justice; Directly contacting U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

DOJ INTERFERENCE

2019
08/15/2019

August 15, 2019 Tweet

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

08/06/2019

August 6, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

08/05/2019

August 5, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/31/2019

July 31, 2019 Tweet

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/30/2019

July 30, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/28/2019

July 28, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/27/2019

July 27, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/26/2019

July 26, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/25/2019

July 25, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/24/2019

July 24, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/23/2019

July 23, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/22/2019

July 22, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/21/2019

July 21, 2019 Tweet

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

 

07/16/2019

July 16, 2019 Tweet

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
OTHR IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/14/2019

July 14, 2019 Tweet

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/13/2019

July 13, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/12/2019

July 12, 2019 Tweets

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/11/2019

July 11, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/10/2019

July 10, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/09/2019

July 9, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/08/2019

July 8, 2019 Tweet

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

07/02/2019

July 2, 2019 Tweet

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

06/26/2019

President Trump Calls for Google Investigation and Accuses Mueller of Crimes on Fox News

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

Well my reaction [to Mueller’s scheduled testimony] is it never ends, we had no obstruction, we had no collusion, we had a report that was — you know, considering it had 18 people that hated Donald Trump and you had Mueller that obviously was not a Trump fan, not a Trump person, how these people were picked is, you know, by itself incredible. And yet the report is no collusion, no obstruction, which was ruled on by our great attorney general. He’s great, he’s doing a fantastic job in many other ways too. But he ruled on it, he read it, he saw it and he ruled on the report and based on the report there was no obstruction whatsoever. And of course it’s hard to have obstruction when you have no crime, we can also add that, he didn’t rule on that basis, he just ruled on it that there’s no obstruction. But you had no event. You didn’t have crime, you had crime on the other side, OK, if you want to know the truth. […] Look, you had people spying on my campaign, that’s very simple, OK. Before I used to say it could have been, you had people spying on my campaign, it’s probably the first time in history it’s happened. They got caught and they’re running around going wild trying to do everything they can. But they spied on my campaign, it’s as simple as that, it’s so illegal it’s probably the biggest political scandal in history and they got caught doing it and it was a reverse — it was really a reversal of sorts. But it’s a horrible thing that happened. […] Let me tell you, [Google is] trying to rig the election. That’s what we should be looking at, not the witch hunt, the phony witch hunt which has proven zero. You know, not even a phone call. This is the biggest political disgrace in history. […] But I tell you what, [Google] should be sued because what’s happening with the bias — and now you see it with that executive yesterday from Google, the hatred for the Republicans. It’s not even like gee let’s lean Democrat, the hatred. And actually, you know, I heard that all during my election. It’s hard that I won, they were — they were swamping us with negative stuff. […] But here’s where it’s unfair, I have had 24/7 a phony witch hunt, a disgusting phony witch hunt that nobody else would have even been take — a normal person couldn’t have even taken it. I have been attacked for two and a half years with a phony, dishonest, crooked group of people in intelligence agencies and beyond that have been doing nothing but attacking your president. […] The spies — Maria you know what, I used to say well we’ll find out. They spied on my campaign, and when you look at somebody saying listen, she’s going to win, but if she doesn’t we have an insurance policy. You know what the insurance policy is? We have an insurance policy to get him out of office. These are sick people. The two lovers, I mean the two pathetic lovers, I mean there’s two love birds. They sung like nobody’s ever sung. […] Now here’s the problem, Robert Mueller, they worked for him, and the two lovers were together and they had texts back and forth and e-mail back and forth. […] Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated the e-mails, he terminated all of the stuff between Strzok and Page, you know they sung like you’ve never seen. Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together. He would — he terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal, he — that’s a crime.

06/26/2019

President Trump Comments on the Russia Investigation to the Press

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

No, look, the Mueller thing never stops. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was no nothing. How many times do we have to hear it? It never ends. It just keeps going on and on. I’ve been going through this for two years — two and a half years. And the criminal activity was on the other side with the fake dossier — the phony, fraudulent dossier — and all of the other things they’ve done — the FISA courts, all of that. With the insurance policy by Strzok and his lover, Page. This is a disgraceful thing. And now we keep — I heard about it last night, and I just said, “Does it ever end? At what point does it end?” It’s a disgrace. […] Nobody has ever been more transparent. And now it continues further? This is just a hoax. I call it the “witch hunt” but it’s really a hoax. It’s the greatest hoax ever in the history of our country. And it’s the worst political scandal on the other side. So we’ll see. Because a lot of things right now are coming out that are very, very bad, what they did. But this just continues on. […] Does it ever stop? After all of these years and times and people, does it ever stop? And the Democrats use it to try and divert from what they have. Because what they’ve done — if you look and you see; and it’s just my opinion — tremendous criminal activity on their side. And they know it. And this is a diversion. But I ask you this: Does it ever stop?

06/26/2019

June 26, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

06/24/2019

President Trump Interviewed by The Hill

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

Reporter:

 

So the FBI Director disagreed — he’s disagreed with the Attorney General over spying, he said there was no spying on your campaign. What’s your confidence right now in the FBI Director?

 

Trump:

 

Well, we’ll see how it turns out. I mean I, I disagree with him on that. I think a lot of people are disagreeing, you may even disagree with him on that, but, no I would disagree with him on that, respectfully.

06/23/2019

President Trump Appears on Meet the Press

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

Look, I did nothing wrong. I was spied on. What they did to me was illegal. It was illegal on the other side. I did nothing wrong. […] I’ll be honest with you, nobody even mentions Russia anymore since the Mueller report. They don’t mention it, in all fairness. Nobody mentions Russia anymore. And it was about Russia. It was a hoax.

06/21/2019

June 21, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

06/20/2019

President Trump Interviewed by Time Magazine

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

In this interview with Time Magazine, President Trump’s remarks included the following:

 

Trump:

 

It was a crime committed by the other side. […] Well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it — so don’t play that game with me. Let me just tell you something. You take a look —

 

Reporter:

 

I’m sorry, Mr. President. Were you threatening me with prison time?

 

Trump:

 

Well, I told you the following. I told you you can look at this off-the-record. That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it. O.K.? So I hope you don’t have a picture of it. I know you were very quick to pull it out — even you were surprised to see that. You can’t do that stuff. So go have fun with your story. Because I’m sure it will be the 28th horrible story I have in Time Magazine because I never — I mean — ha. It’s incredible. With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that Time Magazine writes is absolutely incredible. […] With all I’ve done, with the tremendous success I’ve had, that Time Magazine writes about me the way they write is a disgrace, O.K.? Let’s face it, it’s a disgrace. And some day within the next 20 years, maybe you’ll pick me as Man of the Year. O.K., big deal. But with all that we’ve said, now — go back to the Mueller Report. You have 18 people who hated Donald Trump, who were angry Democrats, many of whom supported the Democratic Party financially. Right? You have Bob Mueller who was conflicted, totally conflicted. You know my feeling on that. Comey was his friend. I had a nasty business dispute with him when he was in private life. A very nasty business dispute. Right? You know about that, right?

 

Reporter:

 

If you want to provide us details —

 

Trump:

 

No, I don’t want to provide you details, there’s no reason to. What difference, you won’t write it the way it’s proper anyway. But I had a nasty business dispute with Comey. And you know the other disputes, also we had. And he sat, see that chair you’re in? He was right in that chair, wanting the job to be the FBI Director, and I said no. O.K.? That’s a conflict of interest. […] What about Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails? What about the fact that she paid Christopher Steele for a fake phony dossier — tremendous amounts of money — her and the DNC. If you guys wrote the real story, you’d end up doing very well. You’d end up with Pulitzer Prizes. I’ll tell you there are people that should get Pulitzer Prizes, but they aren’t the ones that got ’em. The ones that got ’em should hand ’em back because they called this thing very wrong. […] Look, if this was reversed, where the Republicans did this to a Democrat, every one of them would be in jail for years already. O.K.? If they did — if this was reversed, where I did to them what they did to me, the repercussions would be enormous. […] And the thing that I have that nobody’s ever had before, from the day I came down the escalator, I have had a phony witch hunt against me. And not long after that day, you understand, from the day and you look at the insurance policy by crooked FBI agents, where they talked about the insurance policy just in case Hillary Clinton should lose. The insurance policy. We lived the insurance policy, if that’s what it was. This was spying on a campaign. This was — what happened to me as President should never happen to another President again. And I’m honored to have gone through it. […] From Day One, it’s been a phony witch hunt with a phony dossier with phony FISA court — the whole thing was a phony deal. It was a fraud. It was a woman that deleted 33,000 emails after getting a subpoena from Congress, and she had no problem doing it. If I ever deleted one email, if I did one email and deleted it, I’d have nothing but serious, serious problems. […] What they did with the phony witch hunt was a very bad thing, and it’s bad now, what they’re doing.

06/19/2019

President Trump Appears on Hannity

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

President Trump spoke with Sean Hannity for approximately 45 minutes on Fox News. His remarks included the following:

 

Trump: It’s a hoax. It was a hoax, a witch hunt, but a hoax, the whole thing. Gregg Jarrett said it very well when he named his book “The Russian Hoax.” And it’s disgraceful that they are allowed, and they are very upset now because it didn’t turn out like they thought because we did. We had 18 angry Democrats that hated Trump and many of them contributed to Hillary’s campaign. And it came out there was no collusion. […] The fact is they were spying on my campaign, using agencies to — intelligence agencies to do it, going after Page and George Papadopoulos and probably others. I’m trying to — we are trying to find out whether or not they actually listened in on my calls, that will be the — that would be the ultimate. We’ll see what happens. I think if it happened, we’ll probably find out. We have a great attorney general who was working very hard and we’ll see what happens. […] But a lot of things are going to come out. I mean, if they spied on my campaign and they may have, it will be one of the great revelations in history of this country. And I will tell you, it’s going to be very interesting, I think we’re going to find out. Can you imagine if it were the other way around and I spied on President Obama’s campaign? Could you imagine what the repercussions would be? Or I spied on Crooked Hillary’s campaign. Can you imagine with the repercussions would be? […]

 

Hannity: Do you believe there was a premeditated fraud committed against FISA court judges [by James Comey]?

 

Trump: Well, again, people are looking into that. If you’re asking just my opinion, I would say absolutely yes. It would seem to be yes. And, you know, when you get the Strzok-Page, the two lovers who put right out on the public waves, I mean, they put the insurance policy — well, we have been living through the insurance policy, that she was going to win but just in case she didn’t win, we needed an insurance policy. Well, that’s to subvert government. What they did was unbelievable that they could do a thing like that. And they reported to McCabe who I think is a terrible, terrible guy. And, you know, the FBI, you have some of the finest people in the world, and you know that, and we sat all the time. I bet you if we took a vote, I would be so high in that poll, you wouldn’t believe it. They’re great people, I know so many. But at the top, people were terrible, they were leakers, they were liars. I mean, look at the leaking and look at the lying. Comey admitted he leaked. Think of it, the top of the FBI, he leaked. And when you look at what went on, Sean, it’s disgusting. But the whole concept of they wanted insurance policy just in case she loses — well, that’s what we’ve lived through. We’ve lived through the insurance policy. […] I think other countries were involved. […] It’s a hoax. It’s a terrible hoax and that should never happen to another president because many of them would not be able to handle it, I don’t care who they are. Many of them would not be able to handle it. […] But it should never happen to another president what happened to me and it should never happen — nobody should ever allow this to go forward again. And people have to learn — there has to be a lesson taught. There has to be a lesson taught. It should never be allowed. It’s so bad for our country. […] But, you know, Bob Mueller was conflicted because he wanted to be the head of the FBI, the director. Again, he was already there for 10 or 12 years, but he wanted to be and I didn’t allow that, I said no. I said it respectfully. We had a business dispute in private life when he was out of the FBI. We had a commercial business dispute. How about having a business dispute with somebody? Think of this, and then he’s supposed to be ruling on you. But it was a business dispute and it was a nasty little dispute. You know, not the biggest one I’ve ever been in to be honest with you, but we had a real business dispute. So, you look at that, that’s a total conflict of interest, how can somebody whom you have a dispute be ruling? And his best friend who very close to him is Comey and Comey played a big part of this, because McCabe didn’t do anything without Comey. McCabe was totally dominated by Comey. He did nothing. Andrew McCabe was a bad guy, but Andrew McCabe did nothing without calling Comey. He wouldn’t — there is an expression, he wouldn’t go to the bathroom without getting Comey’s approval. And so, Comey is in. And Brennan — you take a look at Brennan. You took the horrible rhetoric, the horrible — the horrible words he used to describe — and then he said, well, I guess I was misinformed. You know, he was making all these predictions. And then when it said no collusion in the Mueller report — which is amazing, because they had 18 people that were Hillary Clinton people, that — I think all of them were anti-Trump people in one form or another. But many of these people, they gave to Clinton’s campaign, one or two of them were at — including Weissmann — were at the event which turned out to be, as you know, her wake — it was a funeral. It was supposed to be a party at the convention center in New York. It turned out to be a funeral. I saw the same scene as you did too. But think of it — Bob Mueller was great friends with Comey, right there there’s a conflict. He wanted the FBI job, and we had a business dispute. And I would tell everybody who’d listen, I told you a long time ago, I said, how could he be doing this? But despite that, let him do it. I said, let him do it because I had nothing to do — they know that, they all know that, I had nothing to do with Russia. […] I had absolutely Article II powers. I could’ve done anything I wanted. I don’t even bring it up because we don’t even get there. Absolutely, I have Article II. We could have used that instead. I wouldn’t even have to bother talking to you about all the other things. I wouldn’t have to talk to you about conflicts. I could have fired Mueller for conflicts. I could have fired anybody. But I didn’t want to do it, because they said, let it play — play out, it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. It’s a disgrace. And Ukraine, take a look at Ukraine. How come the FBI didn’t take the server, Podesta told him to get out. He said, get out. […] So, how come the FBI didn’t take the server from the DNC? Think about that one, Sean. Think about that one.

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