What’s the problem?

Jennifer Rubin explains the legal norms Trump is stamping on.

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates hit the nail on the head on Monday on “Morning Joe.” She explained, “I think what we’re seeing here is the president has taken his all-out assault of the rule of law to a new level and this time he is ordering up an investigation of the investigators who are examining his own campaign. You know, that’s really shocking.” And things got even worse as the day progressed.

Among the other things it is, it’s a massive abuse of power. The rest of us don’t get to order the Justice Department to investigate the people who are investigating us. But even more basically it’s the opposite of how this is supposed to work. Investigators are not supposed to collaborate with the suspects they’re investigating, for obvious reasons. Investigators look for evidence that the suspects don’t want them to find, so the two parties are kept separate. There is no expectation that investigators will share what they find with the suspects while the investigation is in progress. Trump and his people are pretending there is, and that it’s just normal and appropriate and Only Fair.

Now, President Trump orders up an investigation of investigators based on no evidence of impropriety and then meets directly with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss sharing and/or releasing such information. Yes, we are through the looking glass.

That’s the trouble with electing a criminal president. Let’s not do that again.

“Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump campaign,” the White House said in a written statement. “It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff [John] Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI [Director of National Intelligence] together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.” It’s far from clear what this entails, but it appears to be a wholly improper attempt to give Trump’s allies in Congress a peek at critical documents for Trump’s legal benefit.

Maddow pointed out with much emphasis that Nunes and his friends will instantly share any “highly classified and other information” they see with the White House.

Trump’s TV lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani blabbed to Politico the real reason for the request:

[He] said the documents requested by Trump will “indicate what the informant found.” He also said the memos “should be made available to us on a confidential basis,” he added. “We should be at least allowed to read them so we know this exculpatory evidence is being preserved.” It’s unclear if there were any arrangements made for the White House to view the documents.

This goes beyond obstruction to total disruption of an investigation, with an implicit request for Congress to turn over to a potential defendant classified materials. Trump’s lawyer asking for critical investigative documents in the press is about as blatant as one can get.

The normal separation between the White House and the Justice Department on investigative matters is being obliterated before our eyes — and worse, Trump is using his powers as president to aid in his own defense.

And nobody is stopping him. Just a couple of weeks ago Rosenstein said the Justice Department won’t be extorted, but oh look the Justice Department is being extorted.

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