WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday repeatedly called on the Justice Department and FBI to investigate his Democratic political opponents, a breach of the traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized.
Trump urged federal law enforcement to “do what is right and proper” by launching criminal probes of former presidential rival Hillary Clinton and her party – a surprising use of his bully pulpit considering he acknowledged a day earlier that presidents are not supposed to intervene in such decisions.
In a flurry of accusatory morning tweets, Trump claimed there was mounting public pressure for new Clinton probes, including over her campaign's joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee that effectively gave her some control over the party's finances, strategy and staffing before the primaries began.
Trump invoked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who had said that she believed the Democratic primaries were rigged in Clinton's favor based on details of the arrangement in a new book by former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile. Using his pejorative nickname for Warren, Trump tweeted: “Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.”
Trump also called for probing the deleted emails from Clinton's private server while she was secretary of state, as well as the sale of a uranium company to Russia and the international business of Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, who served as Clinton's campaign chairman.
“People are angry,” Trump wrote in one tweet. “At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!”
He amplified his message later Friday morning, as he spoke to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before he departed for a 12-day trip to Asia.
“I'm really not involved with the Justice Department,” Trump said. “I'd like to let it run itself. But honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats ... And a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.”
Trump has long been irritated, and at times outright angry, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for refusing to prosecute Clinton and for not better protecting him from special counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the president's advisers have said.
Trump made his displeasure clear in a Thursday radio interview on “The Larry O'Connor Show.”
“You know, 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,” Trump said. “I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing and I am very frustrated by it.”
The president said it was “very discouraging to me” that the Justice Department and FBI were not “going after Hillary Clinton.” He added, “Hopefully they are doing something and at some point, maybe we are going to all have it out.”