WASHINGTON — Two days after Donald J. Trump refused to admit he lost the 2020 election, his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has made urgent recommendations.
The younger Trump did not explain in the text he sent why it was necessary to oust Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director his father himself appointed more than three years ago. . he didn’t have to. everyone understood. In the eyes of the Trump family and his followers, Mr. Wray was not personally loyal enough to the outgoing president.
During his four years in the White House, Mr. Trump sought to turn the nation’s law enforcement agencies into instruments of political power to achieve his ambitions. Now that the FBI has executed an unprecedented search warrant at the former Florida president’s home under Mr. Wray, Mr. Trump has accused the country’s justice system of being exactly what he set out to change. for him.
In fact, there is no evidence that President Biden played any role in the investigation. Biden has not publicly demanded that the Justice Department detain Trump the way Trump has publicly demanded that he and other Democrats be detained by the Department. And no one, with his knowledge, refuted the White House statement that he was not informed of the Mar-a-Lago search in advance, much less was he involved in ordering it. But Trump has a long history of accusing opponents of doing what he himself does or would do in the same situation.
His efforts to politicize the law enforcement system now serve as a shield for him to deflect accusations of wrongdoing. Exercised his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testimony, as his response could incriminate him, making the same allegations Wednesday about the New York Attorney General’s unrelated investigation into his business practices. Did.
Norman L. Eisen, who served as special adviser to the House Judiciary Committee on Trump’s initial impeachment, said: Allegations are nothing but hypocrisy at its worst.” “But coherence, logic, evidence, truth — these are always the first to come before the commission when a democracy comes under attack from within.”
Trump’s Republican supporters argue that it was not Trump who undermined the apolitical tradition of the FBI and law enforcement. Instead, when Trump and his campaign were investigated for possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election campaign, they said the system was corrupted by Bureau leaders and even members of the Obama administration. claim. .
The former president’s campaign has long said text messages between two FBI agents who sharply criticized Trump during the campaign, as well as surveillance warrants obtained against Trump advisers, were unjustified. The Justice Department admitted the warrant was flawed, and the inspector general accused his FBI officials of wording. But the inspector general found nothing to conclude that someone tried to harm Trump out of political prejudice.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the Republican leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a letter to Wray on Wednesday that the FBI against Trump called into question the current investigation that led to Monday’s raid. Alluded to the history of previous investigations of Regarding classified documents that the former president may have illicitly taken with him when he left office.
“The FBI’s actions, less than three months after the next election, undermine public confidence in U.S. government agencies, the electoral process, and the rule of law more than the Russian Federation or any other foreign adversary,” Rubio said in a letter. said in
The search was approved by a magistrate and high-level law enforcement officers who must meet a high level of evidence of possible crime. Former Appellate Court Judge Merrick B. Garland, appointed by Biden with bipartisan support, has been cautious about pursuing Biden because he has generated criticism from liberals in the past. However, no public statement has been made so far.
The extent of Trump’s success in promoting his view of a politicized law enforcement system was evident in the hours following the FBI raid Monday on what it was based on or what it turned out to be. The Bureau’s actions as a partisan without waiting to find out.
Many inquiries. Since Donald J. Trump resigned, the former president has faced several different civil and criminal investigations across the country over his business dealings and political activities. Here are some notable cases:
Even Republicans who have been critical of the former president in the past felt compelled to question the search’s effectiveness. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky asked if something bad happened after waiting 24 hours.
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“The country deserves a thorough and expeditious account of what led to Monday’s events,” he said. statement“Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should have already provided answers to the American people, and they must do so now.”
But some law enforcement veterans say Trump is just projecting his views onto others. Former Justice Department Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich said, “Trump actually thinks Merrick Garland is serving the political agenda because he’s having trouble handling other things. I may believe in it,” he said. “Trump doesn’t understand people like Garland or the top leaders of the DOJ and FBI.
The FBI has a history of intersections between politics and investigations. Under J. Edgar Hoover, the Bureau eavesdropped on and tracked domestic opponents of the federal government, sometimes serving as a political instrument for various presidents of both parties. However, after Hoover’s death in 1972, past human rights abuses came to light, and Congress and his FBI sought to ditch his FBI history and turn it into a more professional and politically neutral organization.
FBI directors were appointed for 10-year terms to keep them immune to the whims of the president, new offices were created with professional responsibilities, the House and Senate created an Intelligence Oversight Committee, and other Reforms were enacted, removing the FBI from politics. In the process, the Bureau has earned the respect of both parties and many Americans over the past half century.
The public trust that has been built up over the years has been severely damaged during the Trump era.Percentage of Americans who do told a Gallup pollster The number of people who think the FBI is doing a good job has dropped from 57% in 2019 to 44% in 2021.
And while public endorsement of the agency has long been bipartisan, it is now divided along partisan lines. The percentage of Republicans who view the FBI favorably has dropped from 65% in 2018 to 49% after Trump attacked his FBI over the Russia investigation in his first year in office. decreased to A study by the Pew Research Center Democrats, meanwhile, have stabilized at 77%.
“When Trump took office, he upended the post-1970s status quo, unbalancing more than 40 years of the imperfect but admirable culture of apolitical independence built by the DOJ and FBI.” said Douglas M. Charles. His FBI at Pennsylvania State University and author or editor of several books on the FBI. “It seems to me that Trump is really testing that culture and the FBI itself to expose the weaknesses and limitations of the post-1970s system.”
Trump’s view of the law enforcement system has been shaped by his own encounters with it. The Justice Department sued his family company In 1973, he was accused of being racist. In the end, Trump’s company settled and agreed to change his policy, leaving a bitter taste in Trump’s mouth.
By the time he ran for office, Trump was looking at the judicial system through a political lens. He proposed jailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was investigated but not prosecuted for mishandling classified information, and led crowds at rallies with chants of “lock her up.” I was.
After the victory, Trump viewed law enforcement as another agency bent to his will, refusing to pledge personal loyalty to the president or publicly declaring that Trump was not his target. He fired FBI Director James B. Comey at the time. Russian survey. The president has since dismissed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to protect Trump by withdrawing from the investigation.
During his tenure, Trump repeatedly called on the Justice Department and FBI to investigate opponents and release his friends. He publicly criticized the indictments of campaign advisers such as Paul J. Manafort and Roger J. Stone Jr., as well as former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and eventually pardoned them. He said he could cost his party seats when two Republican lawmakers were indicted just before the 2018 midterm elections.
Frustrated with Wray, Trump tried to appoint a more supportive FBI director in 2020, but backed out after Attorney General William P. Barr protested. By that fall, the president had fallen behind in the polls for re-election, so he called for prosecution of Biden’s son Hunter, replacing Barr and Wray with elders Biden and Barack. He lashed out at Democrats like him for not prosecuting them. Obama for the Russian investigation.
“These people should be prosecuted,” Trump said. “This is the greatest political crime in our nation’s history and it includes Obama and Biden.”
After losing a run for a second term, Mr. Trump ultimately ignored his son’s advice and did not fire Mr. Wray, but lobbied the Justice Department to overturn the election in his final weeks in office. Barr rejected Trump and publicly denied his false election claims before resigning.
Trump has repeatedly pressured Barr’s successor, Jeffrey A. He came close to appointing his ally, Mr. Jeffrey Clarke. The president was only blocked when all high-ranking Justice Department officials were told to resign in protest.
It was our last chance to influence law enforcement from the inside, at least for now. So, from the outside, he opposes what he calls the corruption of his own appointing law enforcement agency.