President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would “love” to send the Justice Department and FBI after former rival Hillary Clinton, and is “very frustrated” that he can’t.
Trump’s comments came during an interview on Thursday with conservative radio host Larry O’Connor of WMAL in Washington where the president expressed frustration Thursday that he’s not able to influence the FBI and Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton.
“But you know the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department, Trump lamented. I’m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it.”
Trump followed up those complaints Friday with Twitter demands to prosecute the Democratic presidential nominee.
Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn't looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017
A law reporter who’s friends with former FBI director James Comey responded by saying that Trump’s threats to prosecute his political rivals and his frustration that he’s unable to do it, actually prove he hasn’t been able to corrupt the Department of Justice.
Journalist Benjamin Wittes, who covers law and national security, said in a series of tweets that the president’s Twitter rampage inadvertently served as “a fabulous tribute they are to the men and women of the DOJ and the FBI.”
“The President is saying that he would like to interfere in ongoing investigations,” Wittes tweeted. “He is saying that he would like to order up investigations of his political opponents. He is announcing that he is a corrupt actor who does not believe in the rule of law.”
Wittes recalled how the president fired Comey, his friend, because he refused to extend his personal loyalty, and he said Trump also had threatened his attorney general, deputy attorney general and special counsel Robert Mueller for similar reasons.
“Even as I type this, he is tweeting about how DOJ should be investigating Clinton,” Wittes said. “In these comments, he is announcing frankly how badly he wants to corrupt the DOJ. And yet, he is ‘frustrated.’ Why?”
He’s not frustrated by Comey, whom he fired in May, and Wittes said Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein hadn’t exactly “shrouded themselves in glory.”
“It’s because the norm of independent law enforcement — which he is menacing — is actually strong enough to constrain him — at least right now,” Wittes said.
Trump’s tweets inadvertently reveal that he may have ordered law enforcement to prosecute his political rivals — and they refused.
“It’s a stunning statement of presidential constraint: A president actually saying that he aspires to corrupt interference with law enforcement and can’t pull it off,” Wittes said. “Let it warm your heart. It sure warms mine.”