A giant stride toward the cliff

Nothing corrupt and sleazy about this, oh hell no.

The Justice Department said Monday that prosecutors were looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate political rivals President Trump has singled out for scrutiny, including Hillary Clinton.

The department, in a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee, said the prosecutors would examine allegations that donations to the Clinton Foundation were tied to a 2010 decision by the Obama administration to allow a Russian nuclear agency to buy Uranium One, a company that owned access to uranium in the United States, and other issues.

The letter appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s statement on Nov. 3, when he said he was disappointed with his beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and that longstanding unproven allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration should be investigated.

Any such investigation would raise questions about the independence of federal investigations under Mr. Trump. Since Watergate, the Justice Department has largely operated independently of political influence on cases related to the president’s opponents.

But now there’s a lying raping thief squatting in the White House, so fancypants ideas like “the independence of federal investigations” are a dead letter.

Although Mr. Sessions has recused himself from all matters related to the election, he and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, will oversee the prosecutors’ decision to appoint the special counsel, the letter said.

It’s what autocrats and dictators do. It’s what Putin and Erdoğan and Mugabe do. It’s filthy.

During his Senate confirmation hearing this year, Mr. Sessions said he would not name a special prosecutor to investigate Mrs. Clinton even if ordered to do so by the president.

“This country does not punish its political enemies,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Emphasis added.

Mr. Trump, who closely monitors the conservative news media ecosystem for ideas on how to attack his opponents, has cited reports from those outlets to aides and friends as examples for why a special counsel should be appointed.

One commentator in particular, the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro — who is a friend of Mr. Trump’s and whose show he rarely misses — has aggressively denounced Mr. Sessions as weak for not investigating the uranium deal. In addition to making scathing critiques on her show, Ms. Pirro — who had interviewed to be the deputy attorney general, according to three transition officials — recently met with the president to excoriate the attorney general.

In an Oval Office meeting on Nov. 1, Ms. Pirro said that a special counsel needed to be appointed, according to two people briefed on the discussion. Through a Fox News spokeswoman, Ms. Pirro said, “Everything I said to President Trump is exactly what I’ve vocalized on my show, ‘Justice with Jeanine.’”

So Fox News and a lying thieving fraud are running the country. Awesome.

Peter Baker points out how aberrant all this is.

President Trump did not need to send a memo or telephone his attorney general to make his desires known. He broadcast them for all the world to see on Twitter. The instruction was clear: The Justice Department should investigate his defeated opponent from last year’s campaign.

However they were delivered, Mr. Trump’s demands have ricocheted through the halls of the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now ordered career prosecutors to evaluate various accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate her.

Mr. Sessions has made no decision, and in soliciting the assessment of department lawyers, he may be seeking a way out of the bind his boss has put him in by effectively putting the matter in the hands of professionals who were not politically appointed. But if he or his deputy authorizes a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter norms established after Watergate that are intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals.

Emphasis added, again.

The request alone was enough to trigger a political backlash, as critics of Mr. Trump quickly decried what they called “banana republic” politics of retribution, akin to autocratic backwater nations where election losers are jailed by winners.

My point exactly.

“You can be disappointed, but don’t be surprised,” said Karen Dunn, a former prosecutor and White House lawyer under President Barack Obama who advised Mrs. Clinton during her campaign against Mr. Trump. “This is exactly what he said he would do: use taxpayer resources to pursue political rivals.”

Democrats still vividly recall Mr. Trump on the campaign trail vowing to prosecute Mrs. Clinton if he won. “It was alarming enough to chant ‘lock her up’ at a campaign rally,” said Brian Fallon, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign spokesman. “It is another thing entirely to try to weaponize the Justice Department in order to actually carry it out.”

He is – in his thinking, his rhetoric, his character, his innermost essence – a dictator. He clearly thought being president actually meant being a dictator, and he’s thrashing wildly against all the restraints. He’s going to destroy the place.

While presidents typically are not supposed to intervene in investigations or prosecutions of specific individuals, Mr. Trump’s calls for an investigation of Mrs. Clinton over the last several months have been repeated, insistent and not even slightly subtle.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” he wrote on Twitter in July.

“There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out,” he wrote in October. “DO SOMETHING!”

“At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper,” Mr. Trump wrote again in November. He added: “Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems.”

That’s a dictator raving.

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