President Trump and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions see eye-to-eye on the question of political interference in the Justice Department’s work: It’s very bad and it shouldn’t happen. The president just so happens to think that a Justice Department free of improper influence and political considerations would naturally realize that it has to prosecute the president’s political opponents and people who investigated his campaign’s possible ties to the Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.
What Trump was referring to was Sessions’ statement Thursday saying the DOJ would not be influenced by politics. Sessions had bristled in response to Trump saying on Fox News earlier in the day that he puts the “Justice” Department in quotes because “Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn’t have done.” He also said that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department,” by which he seems to have meant “shut down the Russia investigation” and instead focus on Hillary Clinton.
To Trump, any investigations of him, his family, his businesses, or his staff are “political”—a great “hoax” or “witch hunt” by former Obama and law enforcement officials who despised him, wanted Clinton to win, and now want to kneecap his presidency. (That’s despite the fact the Federal Bureau of Investigation weighed in twice to criticize Clinton and then to re-open the investigation right before the election, all the while keeping the Russia investigation secret during Trump’s campaign.) It’s worth noting, then, that the current investigations into Trump and his associates by the special counsel and the Southern District of New York are being overseen and/or carried out by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, two Republicans appointed to their jobs by Trump.
The meme that a Republican-run DOJ would only investigate Republican politicians and their associates because of nebulous political considerations has not remained sequestered in the White House. Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. of California has said that his legal travails are the fault of a combination of his wife and “the new Department of Justice … the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement.”
Whether this tack is as effective for Hunter—whom unlike the president the DOJ is perfectly comfortable indicting—remains to be seen.