Trump's words and actions make him look shockingly guilty, and his latest abuse of power is no exception.
For someone who insists — often on Twitter, in all caps — that he is completely innocent, there was NO COLLUSION, and the special counsel’s investigation that has already netted five guilty pleas is merely a “witch hunt,” Trump sure is acting guilty. And increasingly desperate.
On Monday, he took his desperation a step further, forcing the Department of Justice to reveal the evidence it has on his campaign, his administration, and possibly Trump himself.
“The Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Further, the statement said, “White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”
In other words, the White House wants to see whatever dirt those agencies might already have on him.
The Monday meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats followed Trump’s disturbing announcement the day before, on Twitter (of course), that he will “demand” that the Justice Department “look into” a ridiculous conspiracy theory that President Obama’s administration secretly “infiltrated” the Trump campaign “for Political Purposes.”
In the past week, Trump has been clinging to a new conspiracy theory initially put forth, and then walked back somewhat, by his newest attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that President Obama placed a “spy” in the Trump campaign.
By Friday, however, Giuliani was already trying to dial down the story.
“First of all, I don’t know for sure, and neither does the president,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Giuliani said he’d heard this allegation from “people” and that he didn’t “know if they’re right or not.”
But that hasn’t stopped Trump from wrapping his arms around this latest deflection.
So now he has demanded that his DOJ “investigate” this conspiracy theory. And in so doing, the White House will potentially have access to the very information that might be used against him or others on his team.
As law professor and MSNBC analyst Joyce White Vance noted on Twitter, “Trump is a subject of the investigation he will apparently succeed in obtaining evidence in & that no subject is entitled to during a criminal investigation.” Vance added that this access is “unprecedented.”
Oh, but that’s not what Trump is doing, insists Giuliani. In an interview with USA Today’s Kevin Johnson, Giuliani says Trump is only interested in this information in his capacity as president, not as the subject — and perhaps future defendant — in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
That excuse strains credulity.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti also noted that Trump would not have access to this information “until after he was charged.”
By gaining access to this highly classified and sensitive information, Trump could “craft answers” based on what the FBI already knows, if he does ultimately agree to answer Mueller’s questions. Further, Mariotti explains, he could use the information “to alert his associates so they could also craft their answers to questions. It could also give them a reason to destroy or alter evidence, to intimidate witnesses, or change their legal position in other legal matters.”
Trump “is abusing his office,” Mariotti says. And Rosenstein and Wray, as well as Republicans in Congress, are letting him get away with it.
It’s a stunning and disgraceful abuse of power and an obvious attempt to obstruct the investigation Trump has been desperate to sink since he fired FBI Director James Comey after Comey refused to shut down the probe.
For all of Trump’s tweeted declarations about his own innocence, every action he takes — including, now, bullying the DOJ to tip its hand to him — further suggests he has much to hide and even more to fear.