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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
05/30/2019

May 30, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/29/2019

May 29, 2019 Tweet

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

 

05/27/2019

May 27, 2019 Tweet

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
PRESIDENT DEMANDING LOYALTY FROM DOJ OFFICIALS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/24/2019

May 24, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/23/2019

May 23, 2019 Tweet

PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW

 

05/22/2019

May 22, 2019 Tweets

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

 

05/21/2019

May 21, 2019 Tweets

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/20/2019

May 20, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/19/2019

May 19, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/17/2019

May 17, 2019 Tweet

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

 

05/14/2019

President Trump Delivers Energy Speech in Hackberry, LA

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

The Green New Deal is — that’s a hoax, like the hoax I just went through. I’m not even sure. It might be a bigger one. And mine was pretty big. Mine was unlimited.

05/14/2019

President Trump Speaks to Press Before Departure

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

It was a hoax. And even Mueller — not a friend of mine — even Bob Mueller came out: “No collusion.” And he had 18 people that didn’t like Donald Trump. They were Hillary Clinton fans. They contributed, many of them, to Hillary Clinton. They came out. It was the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the people of this country. And you know what? I am so proud of our Attorney General, that he is looking into it. I think it’s great.

05/12/2019

May 12, 2019 Tweets

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

 

05/11/2019

May 11, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

05/09/2019

May 9, 2019 Tweet

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

05/09/2019

President Trump Holds Press Conference on Healthcare Costs

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me. You know, John Kerry speaks to them a lot. John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a violation of the Logan Act. And, frankly, he should be prosecuted on that. But my people don’t want to do anything that’s — only the Democrats do that kind of stuff, you know? If it were the opposite way, they’d prosecute him under the Logan Act. But John Kerry violated the Logan Act. He’s talking to Iran and has been. Has many meetings and many phone calls, and he’s telling them what to do. That is a total violation of the Logan Act. […] But they’re listening to John Kerry, who’s violated a very important element of what he’s supposed to be doing. He violated the Logan Act. Plain and simple. He shouldn’t be doing that.

 

Look, the Mueller Report came out. It was done at — I guess I’m hearing numbers now close to $40 million, with 17 or 18 very angry Democrats who hated Donald Trump. […] It’s — not only was there no crime, but the crime was committed on the other side. So we’re protecting against the crime committed on the other side. So after spending all of that money, all of that time — two years — they come up with a report. And Bob Mueller is no friend of mine. I had conflicts with him. We had a business dispute. We had somebody that is in love with James Comey. He liked James Comey. They were very good friends; supposedly, best friends. Maybe not, but supposedly, best friends. You look at the picture file and you see hundreds of pictures of him and Comey. And with all of that and other things, he wanted the FBI job. I don’t know if anybody knows that, but as you know, he was considered for the FBI job, wanted it. And the day after he didn’t get it, he became the Special Counsel. That’s a conflict. And we had other things. But those are tremendous conflicts. Listen to this: Your judge — call him a “judge” — has a business dispute with me. Your judge has a fantastic relationship with James Comey. Well, he’s a part of this. He lied to Congress. He leaked — he’s a liar, a leaker. And your judge has a situation where he wanted to become the FBI Director. We chose Director Wray instead, and told him, “I’m sorry.” Those are tremendous conflicts. Those are tremendous conflicts. And then, he puts on his staff — almost all Democrats, many of whom contributed to Hillary Clinton. None of them contributed to me, that I can tell you. And it started out at 13 and went to 18. And these were angry Democrats. These were people that went to her — in one case, went to her — it was supposed to be a party; it turned out to be a funeral on election evening. And was going wild he was so angry. And this man now is judging me. You had other people made big contributions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. They were angry Democrats in, I think, almost all cases. One of the people worked on the Clinton Foundation as — just about the top person at the Clinton Foundation. With all of this, they came back, “No collusion.” […] It was a hoax. It was a witch hunt.

05/08/2019

May 8, 2019 Tweet

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

 

05/08/2019

Panama City Beach, FL Rally

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

Did you see what just happened, by the way? No collusion, no obstruction, no anything. Two years on a witch hunt. I could’ve gotten anybody in this audience I could’ve found something on you. Two years, almost $40 million, 20 Trump haters, Democrats, I call them “Angry Democrats”. After two years, nothing, no collusion, and now the Democrats, we have a great Attorney General.

05/06/2019

May 6, 2019 Tweet

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS

05/05/2019

May 5, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/03/2019

May 3, 2019 Tweets

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

 

05/03/2019

President Trump Fields Questions with the Prime Minister of Slovakia

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

I call it the “Russian hoax.” It turned out to be no collusion, no obstruction. It was a total hoax.

05/02/2019

President Trump Appears on Fox News

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

 

Trump:

There’s been no collusion. There never was. They knew that from day one. […] I didn’t have to do any of it. I could have used presidential privilege. […] This is two and a half years now I’ve been going through the same thing, and the guilt is on the other side, it’s not on our side. The guilt is on the other side. […] Look, I think what they should be focusing on is how did this mess start? How did this whole investigation start? Because I think it’s corrupt as hell, and I think what’s happened between Comey, and McCabe, and Brennan, and all of these people, and Strzok, and his lover Lisa Page — there’s tremendous things that people want to find out, and they really want to find it out, and I hope they’re going to. […] [James Comey] did a lousy job. He was a terrible director. Terrible. There was dissension in the FBI. […] I think that he did a terrible job. I would say he probably say he probably led some kind of an effort — the word spying has been used. He probably was one of the people leading the effort on spying. So —

 

Reporter:

That’s a very serious charge to make.

 

Trump:

I know, I know, and we’ll find out whether or not it was true, and I think it could very well be true, but we’re going to find out pretty soon.

05/01/2019

May 1, 2019 Tweets

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

05/01/2019

President Trump Appears on Fox Business Network

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

 

And it’s all a big hoax, this whole thing with Russia. […] You look at it, it’s all just — it’s a political game. Now I’ll tell you on the other side, there’s plenty to be talking about. They covered, I heard, very much with Strzok and Page and the insurance policy and all of the things that happened that are so terrible, so disgusting frankly. Comey.

04/27/2019

Green Bay, WI Rally

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

There’s a movement like we’ve never seen in the history of our country. But the radical liberal democrats put all their hopes behind their collusion delusion, which has now been totally exposed to the world as a complete and total fraud, the greatest political hoax in American history, really has been. So this witch hunt was never really just about me.

04/26/2019

President Trump Appears on The Mark Levin Show

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

 

Well, to the best of my knowledge is not a word in there about the Comey leaks and the Comey lies and there’s not a word in there about McCabe and Strzok and his lover Lisa Page. There’s not a word in there about all of the dishonesty, the $33,000, 33,000 e-mails from Hillary Clinton. And don’t forget the 600,000 text messages from — that went through the server of Wiener — of Wiener, that’s a beauty, not a word in there about any of this — this corruption, now that’s pure corruption, but not a word in there of the other side, but it’s — it’s rather incredible, rather incredible, very disappointing. But we have a great Attorney General and we’ll see how that all comes out in the end. But it is really incredible that you can do a report and not even mention the other side. You look at the fake dossier, turned out to be a total fake. Even the New York Times, I couldn’t believe it, Mark, The New York Times the other day talked about the — the fake dossier in very unglowing terms, I couldn’t believe it actually. But they do something like that, no mention of it. They do all of this dishonest stuff, the FISA reports, no mention of it. It’s a disgrace. […] So ridiculous, the whole thing, although if you look, Hillary Clinton and the DNC and the Democrats, were dealing with Russia, which is very interesting. And President Obama knew all about Russia in September just before the election and didn’t do a thing about it because he thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. So he didn’t do a thing about it. He only got upset about it after the results were very conclusive, 306 to 223. So you know, you look at what’s going on, but I could have exerted, I could have taken Presidential privilege for the — for everybody, but didn’t I read where they had 500 witnesses, 500. Spent $35 million, had angry Democrats, angry, these were angry people. These were really people that did not like Donald Trump. And you know, Mueller didn’t like Donald Trump and he had conflicts all over the place. […] But it was an incredible success and I — meaning it was an incredible — in a way it was an achievement because when you have haters and people that were angry, if you look at Weisman, he was at Hillary Clinton’s, what was going to be a celebration in their opinion. And it turned out to be a funeral after the election, right after the election at the big convention center, which was so beautifully done, right after the election, the night of the election, and he was a very angry man. And then all of a sudden he’s investigating you and they come up with no collusion. […] She didn’t run a good race, but she sure as hell built a good thing after the race, and actually during the race because you know that didn’t start with Mueller, that started long before Muller, that was a coup. They were really — there was a coup that started long before Mueller. And that was the whole thing with dirty cops and FBI and all of the things that you know about better than anybody else. I mean, if you look at the — the people involved in that horrible situation — and that was a very dangerous thing for our country and — and now people understand it, really they understand it, but you know they’ll go on. But I think — I think it’s embers now. I just think it’s a little embers. I hope so anyway, because it’s so bad for our country puts us in such a bad light. It really — it really hurts us as a country.

04/26/2019

President Trump Addresses the NRA

UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

America’s future has never been brighter, and yet Democrats have never been angrier, especially now that their “collusion delusion” has been exposed to the world as a complete and total fraud. It’s been the greatest political hoax ever in our country.

04/25/2019

April 25, 2019 Tweets

OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

04/25/2019

President Trump Appears on Hannity

ATTACKING POLITICAL OPPONENTS AND DISSENTERS
OTHER IMPROPER WHITE HOUSE INVOLVEMENT IN DOJ MATTERS
PRESIDENT DEMANDING LOYALTY FROM DOJ OFFICIALS
PUTTING THE PRESIDENT AND ALLIES ABOVE THE LAW
UNDERMINING DOJ INTEGRITY AND IMPARTIALITY

 

President Trump spent the majority of a 45-minute interview with Sean Hannity speaking about the Special Counsel investigation and the Department of Justice. Among his remarks was the following:

 

[Two FBI agents] were going hog wild to find something about the administration which obviously wasn’t there. […] But these were the two that talked about the insurance policy just in case Hillary loses. If she loses, we’ve got an insurance policy. Well, that was the insurance policy. Now, she lost and now they are trying to infiltrate the administration to — really, it’s a coup. It’s spying. It’s everything that you can imagine. It’s hard to believe in this country that we would have had that. […] So you see now they are trying to infiltrate the White House. This is long after the election. It’s a disgrace. And, again, hopefully the Attorney General will do what’s right and I really believe he will. […] I think they made many attempts [to spy on my campaign] […] So, I really say, now we have to get down because this was a coup. This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government. […] And this was an overthrow and it’s a disgraceful thing. And I don’t — I think it’s far bigger than Watergate. I think it’s possibly the biggest scandal in political history in this country. Maybe beyond political. […] And let’s see what happens and let’s see how high it goes up. It’s inconceivable when it goes to Clapper, Brennan, Comey, these people — I would imagine that some other people may be a little bit higher up also knew about it and maybe a lot higher up.

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