President Donald Trump threatened in a Wednesday tweet to use “the powers granted to the presidency” to intervene on behalf of congressional lawmakers seeking thousands of subpoenaed documents from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have long sought DOJ documents on the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
The lawmakers also asked DOJ to turn over documents on the investigation of allegations of collusion between officials with Trump’s 2016 campaign and individuals with links to the Russian government in an effort to defeat Clinton.
Although the DOJ has turned over a few thousand of the documents requested, many are all or substantially redacted, both Trump and the GOP lawmakers believe DOJ’s production efforts fall far short of what they should be in terms of volume and timeliness.
“A Rigged System — They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal ‘justice?'” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “At some point, I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”
A Rigged System – They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal “justice?” At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2018
Although Trump didn’t specify how he would “get involved” in the process, he could do so in a variety of ways under the Constitution, including firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and ordering declassification of the documents and turning them over to Congress.
House Freedom Caucus members drafted articles of impeachment against Rosenstein as a last resort if the “slow walking” continued. In response, Rosenstein dismissed the development Tuesday.
“There are people who have been making threats, privately and publicly, against me for quite some time,” Rosenstein said Tuesday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. “And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) responded to Rosenstein Tuesday on Twitter.
“If he believes being asked to do his job is ‘extortion,’ then Rod Rosenstein should step aside and allow us to find a new Deputy Attorney General — preferably one who is interested in transparency,” Meadows wrote.
If he believes being asked to do his job is ‘extortion,’ then Rod Rosenstein should step aside and allow us to find a new Deputy Attorney General—preferably one who is interested in transparency
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) May 1, 2018
Although Trump told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” last week that he tried to “stay away” from DOJ matters, he warned, “but at some point, I won’t.”
“Our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” Trump said of internal DOJ and FBI controversies and bias. “There is no collusion with me and Russia, and everyone knows that.”
But special counsel Robert Mueller is attempting to reach an agreement with Trump’s lawyers for him to be cross-examined by Mueller’s team concerning the collusion allegations and whether some of Trump’s actions as president amount to “obstruction of justice.”
Dozens of such questions, which were leaked to The New York Times, concerned four main topics: Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal on the Russia collusion issue, and Trump campaign officials’ contact with Russian interests.
“There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!” Trump also tweeted Wednesday.
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2018
Judge Andrew Napolitano, a senior judicial analyst for Fox News, said Wednesday on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.” that if Trump were to sit down with Mueller and told “one white lie,” he could be indicted.
“I think that would be the cataclysm,” Napolitano said. “I think it would appear to be what it is, which would be a coup. And the public wouldn’t stand for it.”
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Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joseph diGenova said Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that Mueller’s questions show that “the investigation is now lurching into territory protected by the constitutional privileges of the president of the United States.”
Should Mueller threaten to subpoena Trump or accept written answers to the questions, and if Trump refuses to grant the interview request, then the nation is “headed to a constitutional crisis, because the president’s not going to answer these questions under any set of circumstances,” diGenova predicted.