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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
11/26/2019

President Trump Appears on Bill O'Reilly's Radio Show*

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

 

Joe Biden’s son became rich, as soon as, Joe Biden became Vice President, and in my way of thinking, that’s totally corrupt. […] Joe Biden, it was — it’s criminal what they’ve done, and frankly, that they get away with it is amazing. The son who was — who didn’t have a job, who got thrown out of the Navy, who was really down and out, all of a sudden, is making millions and millions and millions of dollars working with Ukraine. He had no knowledge of energy. He was working with an energy company, as you know, has no knowledge of energy, and they were paying him, I guess many people say, $168,000 a month, it varies, but we know it’s very high, millions of dollars. Then he goes to China, picks up $1.5 billion for a fund, which is tens of millions of dollars a year in fees and other things. And now, other countries are coming to light. It’s a payoff. It’s absolutely a payoff.

 

*Premium membership to Bill O’Reilly’s website required for audio. Transcript available here.

11/26/2019

President Trump Holds Rally in Sunrise, FL

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

The radical-left Democrats are trying to rip our nation apart. First, it was the Russia hoax, total hoax. It was a failed overthrow attempt and the biggest fraud in the history of our country, and then, you look at the Mueller deal. Do you remember that mess? They had nothing, two years, they spent $45 million, and the real cost is many times that number. And now, the same maniacs are pushing the deranged impeachment. And think of this, impeachment, impeachment, a witch hunt the same as before, and they’re pushing that impeachment, witch hunt, and a lot of bad things happening to them because do you see what’s happening in the polls? Everybody said that’s really bullshit, true. Everybody. […] In the twisted world view of the Washington, very sick Democrats, it was totally fine when crooked Hillary Clinton ran her outrageous pay-for-play schemes out of the State Department. And then, she deleted 33,000 e-mails after receiving a subpoena from Congress that was standard play. […] They were devastated by what happened with this Mueller witch hunt deal, and then, Mueller testified. How did he do what he testified to? How did he do? It wasn’t too good but they were devastated. They say this is a disaster. […]

 

And if you want to see what corruption looks like, then take a look, no further than slow, sleepy Joe. I don’t know what’s going on with Joe. When sleepy Joe was in charge of Ukraine policy, his son, I call him where is he? Where’s Hunter? Where is he? What happened to Hunter? Where’s Hunter? His son received millions and millions of dollars from a Ukrainian energy company without a great — you know the reputation of that company, despite knowing absolutely nothing about energy. What business are you in, sir? The mailbox business? Oh, bail bond, well, that’s — do you know Hunter Biden? Do you know sleepy Joe? Bail bond, whoa. So, did you ever work on energy before? You know more about energy, he said, no, then, Hunter, you know much more. Despite being thrown out of the Navy for lots of different reasons, we won’t even go into it. He made no money, zero, nothing, and then, all of a sudden, his father becomes Vice President, and he’s making millions and millions, and then, he goes to China, where, by the way, we’re getting very close to a very good deal, and if we don’t make it that’s fine, but we’re getting very close. Obviously, Hunter is dealing with different people that I’m dealing with in China because after 10 minutes, he walked away for his fund with $1.5 billion. I will tell you, I said to everybody, these are different people that I’m dealing with in China. They got much softer. That was what his father was Vice President, and now, they’re finding other countries.

11/22/2019

November 22, 2019 Tweet

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

 

11/22/2019

President Trump Calls in to Fox and Friends

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

 

[Somebody at the FBI was] spying on my campaign and it went right up to the top. And everybody knows it. And now we’re going to find out. […] This was spying on my campaign, something that has never been done in the history of our country. This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency. They tried to overthrow the presidency. This is a disgrace. But what — I’m not surprised to see; it’s just starting to come out. I think this is nothing compared that what you’ll see over the next couple of weeks. These people are sick. […] I’ll tell you what. You have a lot of very, very bad people. And, you know, a lot of people say, “deep state.” I don’t like to use the word “deep state.” So I just say they’re really bad and sick people. […] You’re dealing at the highest levels of government. They were spying on my campaign. […]

 

Host: Well, how high did it go, Mr. President? How high did it go? Your idea? Personally, I think it goes all the way. Okay? Because I think it’s impossible —

 

Host: To Barack Obama? — for Brennan and for Clapper and for all of these losers that you had over there. I think it’s impossible for them to be doing things. And let’s see what it all says. But it’s impossible — Susan Rice, the person that worked at the United Nations who went after FISA reports and went after reports like she ate them for lunch.

 

And, you know, you look at the previous administration that — they went after like a few. And she was getting them by — at a level nobody’s ever even imagined before, and it had nothing to do with her. Now, I think this goes to the highest level. I hate to say it. I think it’s a disgrace. They thought I was going to win, and they said, “How could we stop him?” They wrote up the phony fake dossier, the disgusting fake dossier, and they tried to have it put out prior to the election. And just to show how incompetent they were, they spent millions and millions of dollars. Hillary Clinton paid for it and the Democrats, a lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine. It’s very interesting. It’s very interesting. They have this server right, from the DNC Democratic National Committee.

 

Host: Who has the server?

 

The FBI went in and they told him, “Get out of here. You’re not getting it. We’re not giving it to you.” They gave the server to Crowd Strike or whatever it’s called, which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. And I still want to see that server. You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That’s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company? […] I can only say that we have a lot of information that a lot of bad things happened. And when you look at Strzok and Page with the insurance policy, where, you know — the two lovers, the two great lovers from the FBI. Where he’s saying, “Oh, she’s going to win 100 million to nothing, but just in case she loses, we have an insurance policy.” Well, that means, you know, “We’re going to take him down. We’re going to take down the president.” You wouldn’t even believe this is possible. But the insurance policy is a very big find. Finding that text. And the only reason we found it was they didn’t want to use their private servers for a very bad reason. Okay? So they use the public server. They use the FBI server.

 

Joe Biden is corrupt. It’s not true what he said. […] But I watched Joe Biden with the prosecutor, who a lot of people said was a great prosecutor, and they took him off. And he was prosecuting that company. And the kid who’d never made 10 cents in his life and all of a sudden is making millions of dollars a day, I mean, you tell me. This is a guy who got thrown out of the Navy dishonorably — He gets thrown out of the Navy shortly thereafter and makes no money. Went through, made no money — And all of the sudden becomes VP is making millions and millions of dollars, not only from there, but from China.

 

If you look at the — you know, we talked about the insurance policy. Right. You know, “We’ve got an insurance policy just in case she loses.” Right? This was a text between the two great lovers. If you look at that, that was long before the election took place. So this was taking, you know, route — with Comey, who’s a totally disgusting human being — by the way, and if I didn’t fire Comey, I would have been in some trouble right now. All coming after me, and I wouldn’t have known that he was a phony that Strzok and Page in all of these people. McCabe. The whole gang of them. We wouldn’t have been able to find it out. Turned out to be the best move I’ve ever made, firing Comey. Because they were looking to take down the president of the United States.

11/20/2019

November 20, 2019 Tweet

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

 

11/20/2019

President Trump Visits Apple, Inc. Plant in Austin, TX

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

 

The Bidens is a whole different story. When you talk about corruption, when you have a guy that made no money, his father becomes Vice President, and all of a sudden he’s getting millions and millions of dollars from Ukraine, from China, from all of these countries — you just see two of them. This guy made nothing. He got thrown out of the Navy. He couldn’t get a job. And then his father becomes Vice President and the press doesn’t want to report it because the press is dishonest. So I think it’s a disgrace. I think the whole thing with Biden is a disgrace.

11/17/2019

November 17, 2019 Tweet

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

11/15/2019

November 15, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

11/15/2019

President Trump Appears on the Dan Bongino Show

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

 

And you know, the witch hunt, which is as you know Dan, gone on long before I won the election. It was actually long before. When you go back to the insurance policy. You know just in case I should win, well, we’re in the insurance policy phase right now with all of this nonsense. But so — we have a — you know it’s an interesting time, but we’re draining the swamp one by one. You look at Comey, he’s gone. You look at McCabe and you look at all of these people, struck and his lover page and Brennan, and you look at all of these people, and I’m — I tell you, what I’m most looking forward to, I let our great Attorney General handle it.

11/14/2019

President Trump Holds a Rally in Bossier City, LA

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

 

If you want to see what corruption looks like, just watch the video of sleepy Joe and watch him as he brags about withholding a billion dollars in aid money to Ukraine. Until Ukraine fires the prosecutors, gets rid of the prosecutor that’s been going after his son and his son’s company in Ukraine. His son got millions of dollars from a company. See how much he made before the father was vice president. So no experience, no nothing, millions of dollars, paid approximately $168,000 a month plus millions of dollars with no expense.

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