Trump Orders DOJ to Investigate Itself and His 'Infiltrated' Campaign
President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Sunday an order for his Department of Justice to investigate itself for any wrongdoing pertaining to an informant used during the presidential campaign. Trump directed the DOJ's focus on the Obama administration in order to determine whether the former president had any involvement.
News broke on Friday that a Cambridge professor, Stefan Halper, who served in three Republican administrations and has ties to the CIA, sought information from Trump campaign officials regarding Russia's involvement with the hacked emails. Trump immediately alleged that Halper's involvement was for "political purposes" and called the story the "all time biggest political scandal."
Trump was not alone in his outrage. Supporters of the president also suggested that the FBI had inappropriately spied on the Trump campaign.
Much of Trump's indignation surrounds the notion that he was unfairly targeted by his political opponents, which is ironic considering that, by demanding a probe into the Obama administration, Trump has called for the investigation of his political opponents. There are real questions as to who within the Department of Justice would be able to conduct such an investigation. Ostensibly, FBI Director Chris Wray and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein both would have conflicts of interest, meaning an independent U.S. attorney, such as special counsel Robert Mueller, may be the only federal investigator who could carry out this order. If Sessions or Rosenstein receive marching orders from Trump, it may precipitate a crisis within the DOJ, as they may have to decide between resigning from their jobs or participating in an investigation that may amount to obstruction of justice. This order is, according to Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes, a "nakedly corrupt attempt on the part of the President to derail an investigation of himself at the expense of a human source to whose protection the FBI and DOJ are committed." While Trump's order is accompanied by seemingly official language, such as "hereby demand," there are reasons to doubt anything of substance will even come from this order. Trump has established various investigations, such as the Commission of Voter Fraud, which produced zero of the desired results of the Trump administration. Moreover, Trump made a similar demand a year ago when he called for an investigation into House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Trump's latest concern involving the alleged informant only materialized due to a contrived controversy led by Rep. Devin Nunes. Republicans in the House went so far as to threaten the DOJ in order to expose who this informant was and what his involvement was in the campaign. Once Halper had been identified, the ensuing scandal only shows how desperate Trump and the GOP establishment is to impede Mueller's investigation. As Ned Price, a former spokesperson of the National Security Council, noted, Trump appears willing to demolish the "firewall between policy and law enforcement" at the DOJ.
All to distract from the fact this his campaign welcomed foreign help to win the presidential election. The New York Times reported Saturday that Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials met with two wealthy Arab princes and an Israeli specialist in social media who offered with the campaign. It was the second Trump Tower meeting that involved non-Americans seeking to assist Trump in his endeavor to defeat Hillary Clinton. The Times reported that Mueller's investigation has honed in on this newly revealed meeting as an event of interest.
It would seem the Republican Party is at a crossroads. Instead of addressing this order, Republican leadership will likely treat Trump's tweet as any other--unhinged stream of consciousness.