US President Donald Trump has escalated his attacks on Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, suggesting the Department of Justice put Republicans in midterm election jeopardy with recent indictments of two of the party’s congressmen.
In his latest broadside against the Justice Department’s traditional independence, Mr Trump tweeted that “Obama era, investigations, of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicised charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department.”
He added that the move put to seats in doubt for the party.
Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2018
The President’s suggestion that the Justice Department consider politics when making decisions showed his disregard for the agency’s independence.
Mr Trump has frequently suggested he views the Justice Department less as a law enforcement agency and more as a department that is supposed to do his personal and political bidding.
Still, investigators are never supposed to take into account the political affiliations of the people they investigate.
Mr Trump, who did not address the specifics of the charges, did not name the Republicans.
But he was apparently referring to the first two Republicans to endorse him in the GOP presidential primaries.
Both were indicted on separate charges last month: Duncan Hunter of California on charges that included spending campaign funds for personal expenses and Chris Collins of New York on insider trading. Both have proclaimed their innocence.
A spokeswoman for Mr Sessions declined comment, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr Trump did not have any public events on Monday.
He briefly exited the White House to a waiting motorcade, but then went back inside without going anywhere.
Mr Trump has previously pressed Mr Sessions to investigate his perceived enemies and has accused him of failing to take control of the Justice Department.
Mr Trump has also repeatedly complained publicly and privately over Mr Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the federal investigation into possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia because he’d worked on Trump’s campaign.
Some of the issues Mr Trump has raised have either already been examined or are being investigated.
The tension between Mr Trump and Mr Sessions boiled over recently with Mr Sessions hitting back, saying that he and his department “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations”.
Still, Mr Sessions has made clear to associates that he has no intention of leaving his job voluntarily despite Mr Trump’s constant criticism.
Allies, including Republican members of Congress, have long advised Mr Trump that firing Mr Sessions – especially before the November midterm elections – would be deeply damaging to the party.
But some have indicated that Mr Trump may make a change after the elections.
“I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters recently.