Donald Trump's Twitter habit could be interfering with ongoing criminal investigations. And that might be enough for a gag order from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Donald Trump just can’t quit Twitter, but his juvenile insistance on hogging the spotlight could spell trouble.
When he is not indulging in frequent golf vacations, Trump has spent much of his time demanding that his Justice Department waste resources investigating fringe conspiracy theories against political opponents. But Trump is no longer simply a failed casino owner, and these outrageous demands are not idle.
“With his forceful pleas via Twitter and recent media interviews to launch inquiries into everything from Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to an Obama-era uranium deal,” Politico reports, “the president is essentially setting the department up for a major breach of protocol if it actually follows through on his requests, according to former government attorneys and prosecutors.”
Decades of protocol and tradition keep the Justice Department walled off from political directives from the White House. In fact, one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was: “Interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees.”
Yet Trump thinks this separation is entirely unfair.
“The saddest thing is, because I am the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump told radio host Larry O’Connor.
Indeed, Trump is determined to interfere with all kinds of ongoing investigations and stir up dirt on his political rivals. And legal scholars are worried.
“It would set a horrendous precedent if the president of the United States could dictate to the DOJ who should be investigated and then start that practice by investigating his former political rival,” says Peter Zeidenberg, a former Justice prosecutor during the George W. Bush administration.
Not only is Trump acting unethically, his behavior could result in action from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman warned that the president had defamed a potential government witness — his former campaign official George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“This could be grounds for Mueller to obtain a gag order on Trump,” Akerman said. “It would be unprecedented, but he is interfering with the government’s right to a fair trial.”
A gag order would prohibit Trump from speaking publically about parts of, or possibly the entirety of, Mueller’s investigations, depending on the scope of the order.
The world was recently granted eleven minutes of reprieve from Trump’s Twitter account when a rogue Twitter employee disabled it.
But Mueller has more and lasting powers to possibly reign in Trump’s tantrums.
It is clear that there are no adults in the room that can restrain Trump from unethical, reckless, and damaging rants. Thus, a gag order may be just what the nation needs.