This article addresses the question of presidential power principally from an historical perspective. It argues that the Department of Justice is independent of the President, and its decisions in individual cases and investigations are largely immune from his interference or direction. This does not result from any explicit constitutional or legislative mandate, but is rather based on an evolving understanding of prosecutorial independence and professional norms.
A year of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has produced many indictments and a tsunami of leads. The corruption is unapologetic and gross.
And now a full scale attack is underway on the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are watching a slo-mo Saturday Night Massacre as prosecutors and investigators are called up on the Presidential carpet. As the President declares : I hereby demand…” that those investigating him and his associates be themselves investigated. The slo-mo judicial dismantling of the New Deal pales in comparison. [See Epic Systems – goodbye 8 hour day]
The above post by Greg Sargent relies on a recently published history of presidential control of the Department of Justice by my Fordham colleague Bruce Green and Rebecca Roiphe. They write
We have a President whose ignorance of such norms is surpassed only by his contempt for them. And his political party has fallen in behind him with only meek dissent.
It is hard to conclude that there is anything more important to us as defenders of law’s integrity than the threat presented by Donald Trump.