The president stumbled into constitutionally dangerous territory this weekend when he “demanded” that the Justice Department open an investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to determine whether or not President Obama abused his power in order to spy on Donald Trump’s election campaign.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
The president’s furious tweet was inspired by the news that the FBI had an informant embedded with the Trump campaign after it was discovered that multiple members of the Trump election team were in contact with agents representing foreign powers, including the hostile Russian Federation.
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Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whose discovery that the President’s national security advisor had lied about his secret communications with Kremlin officials and was vulnerable to blackmail helped spark the entire Trump-Russia investigation, joined Morning Joe to discuss Trump’s latest attack on the independence of the Justice Department and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s mystifying decision to indulge him:
“What we’re seeing here is that the president has just taken his all-out assault on the rule of law to a new level, and this time he is ordering up an investigation of investigators who are examining his own campaign. You know, that’s really shocking.”
Yates went on to issue a sharp warning about the normalization of this kind of behavior from our president in an impatient and hyperactive media cycle that can barely stick to a single story for more than a few hours.
“One of the things we have to look out for is the old ‘boiling the frog slowly’ issue. You know, we become accustomed to things that the president does, in directing DOJ. I can remember a time when he would issue a tweet or directive and the reports would be, ‘in an unprecedented act,’ the president did X or Y. It’s not so unprecedented anymore and oftentimes it doesn’t even make it through the full 24-hour news cycle.”
She’s absolutely right. Many treated the President’s pronouncement yesterday as a joke or a hollow threat, nothing but empty posturing that surely our law enforcement institutions wouldn’t comply with – but it appears that Rosenstein is at least pretending to follow through on the President’s orders, which could put us on the fast track to a political crisis the likes of which our nation has never seen before.
Watch her remarks here: