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Trump: I demand DOJ look into FBI

President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he will demand that his Justice Department look into whether it or the FBI spied on his presidential campaign for political reasons.

Posted: May 21, 2018 3:45 PM
Updated: May 21, 2018 3:45 PM

President Donald Trump tweeted this on Sunday afternoon:

"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!"

That tweet is a hugely telling window into how Trump views the Justice Department and, by extension, everyone in the federal government. He views them all as employees of his, people who are required to do what he asks when he asks it to be done. And to do so without argument.

Trump's view on the government is informed by his years in the private sector. As the head of the Trump Organization, everyone did work for him. If Trump wanted someone to run across the street and get him coffee, there was someone who did it. And, if that person didn't get him the coffee in a prompt manner or got him the wrong sort of coffee, he could get rid of them. (I am oversimplifying somewhat, but you get the idea.)

Trump has brought that same view to the government. The problem is that that's not how the government works.

Yes, Trump is the head of the federal government. But that doesn't mean every agency and every person within those agencies works for him. To be technical about it, they work for the American taxpayers who pay their salaries. Their loyalty -- and this is particularly important as it relates to the Justice Department -- is to the Constitution, not to Trump.

There have been any number of instances in Trump's first 17 months that illustrate his lack of understanding of that critical difference. (The debate over whether Trump ignores these differences or is simply ignorant of them is an unsolvable, but critical, one.)

Take Trump's reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself in Justice's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and a foreign power.

In a July 2017 interview with The New York Times, Trump explained it this way:

"Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair — and that's a mild word — to the president."

"Extremely unfair ... to the president."

In Trump's mind, Sessions should have foreseen the problems his recusal would create for his boss, AKA the President, and never done it in the first place. Trump seems entirely unaware of the idea that Sessions chose to recuse himself so as to avoid the idea of impropriety in the investigation. And that the Sessions' recusal came after it was revealed that he had omitted to note during his confirmation hearings that he had several contacts with Russian officials during the course of the presidential campaign and transition.

Trump's Sunday tweet is more of the same. Whether a president can "demand" (or even "hereby demand") a Justice Department to look into whether an informant was placed in his campaign for political reasons is hard to determine because, well, past presidents haven't made that sort of demand before.

Why not? Because they understood that the Justice Department, moreso even than the rest of the federal government, is given broad leeway to operate independently -- committed to the rule of law rather than a president's whim.

Trump respects no sort of line like that: The Justice Department works for me -- so they should be doing what I want. Hence his repeated urgings for the Justice Department to look more closely into Hillary Clinton's private email server, the Uranium One deal that went through when Clinton was secretary of state and, of course, the idea of an informant placed in the Trump campaign as a spy.

What's fascinating is that Trump may well be unknowingly arguing against his own best interests when it comes to the informant case, as former FBI agent and CNN contributor Asha Rangappa explained in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Friday.

Wrote Rangappa:

"Trump and his backers are wrong about what it means that the FBI reportedly was using a confidential source to gather information early in its investigation of possible campaign ties to Russia. The investigation started out as a counterintelligence probe, not a criminal one. And relying on a covert source rather than a more intrusive method of gathering information suggests that the FBI may have been acting cautiously -- perhaps too cautiously -- to protect the campaign, not undermine it."

So, there's that.

That level of nuance, however, is entirely lost in Trump's view of how the government works and who its employees should be loyal to. To him, he's the boss. He won. With 306 electoral votes. With all that beautiful red on the map. And now, the government is his to do what he wants with. Period.

The thing is: That's not how the government does or should work. The loyalty of the Justice Department is to the law and the Constitution, not to any individual president. That may annoy Trump and his supporters. But it should give them considerable comfort -- knowing that when the political pendulum inevitably swings against them, the government will continue to be loyal not to a man (or woman) or a political party, but to the American people.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 826754

Reported Deaths: 10200
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97493705
Cuyahoga821781012
Hamilton61350439
Montgomery41700399
Summit33399726
Lucas30111597
Butler29721228
Stark24811400
Warren18917139
Lorain18086212
Mahoning16758335
Lake15365135
Clermont15160104
Delaware1382177
Licking12679132
Trumbull12401302
Fairfield1218480
Greene11631133
Medina11128165
Clark10608264
Wood9964154
Allen9511126
Portage8867105
Miami886573
Richland8790116
Marion7319113
Tuscarawas7142174
Columbiana7085124
Pickaway702850
Wayne6781164
Muskingum671242
Erie5886118
Hancock537890
Ross530287
Scioto519662
Geauga483555
Darke457589
Ashtabula439068
Lawrence432651
Union430628
Mercer424287
Sandusky421862
Seneca413555
Auglaize412759
Huron410338
Shelby410221
Jefferson403366
Belmont395640
Washington372040
Putnam364672
Athens36369
Madison339329
Knox336522
Ashland331738
Fulton325943
Defiance319278
Crawford313268
Preble311534
Brown296619
Logan292729
Ottawa282134
Clinton279043
Williams270166
Highland262418
Jackson256943
Guernsey241725
Champaign240927
Fayette225529
Morrow22294
Perry221318
Holmes218662
Henry210247
Hardin204133
Coshocton197420
Van Wert196644
Gallia190926
Wyandot190549
Adams165615
Pike164116
Hocking163423
Carroll149516
Paulding139021
Noble117840
Meigs103221
Monroe95629
Harrison8568
Morgan79128
Vinton67113
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