After President Obama blocked a prosecutor from running the Department of Justice, Donald Trump put that same attorney temporarily in charge of the department, and he is now overseeing its investigation into Russian election meddling.
Dana Boente was just named by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the acting assistant Attorney General for the national security division, which will give him oversight of the FBI’s investigation into coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
But in January, as he was leaving office, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that specifically took Boente, who is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, out of the line of succession for Attorney General. There was no explanation given for the change, but the order meant that if the Attorney General died, resigned, or became incapacitated, Boente would not be in line to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer.
After acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by Donald Trump, after she said his Muslim ban was in violation of the law, Trump put Boente in that top job, which he held until the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as AG. Reversing Yates’ position, Boente said, he would demand that DOJ lawyers “defend the lawful orders of our President.”
Soon after these actions occurred, Trump issued an executive order that reversed Obama’s, putting Boente at the front of the line of succession.
In the meantime, Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after it was shown that he had lied in congressional testimony about contacts with Russia. While a surrogate for the Trump campaign, Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States on more than one occasion.
Repeated behind-the-scenes machinations, combined with White House obstruction and Republican meddling in Congress, continue to underline the need for an independent investigation into Trump and Russia.
Otherwise, any other relevant probe will carry the distinct possibility that the results will have been tainted.