Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has now opened up a criminal investigation into the 2016 Russia probe, hoping to prove the president’s debunked conspiracy theory that the Obama administration was behind the whole operation.
According to The New York Times, “For more than two years, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began.”
It’s the latest indication that Trump sees the DOJ as his personal political weapon – and William Barr appears happy to oblige.
More from The New York Times:
Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to impanel a grand jury and to file criminal charges.
The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.
Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.
As Rachel Maddow pointed out on Thursday, the move by the DOJ is just another effort by this president to prove that it was the Obama administration, not Russia, behind the 2016 attack and subsequent investigation.
“This bizarro world treasure hunt for dirt on our own intelligence services, to try to set up Russia’s interference in our election as a false flag operation planted by the Obama administration – this is now a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice,” the MSNBC host said.
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) October 25, 2019
The Department of Justice is officially dead
Since practically day one, Attorney General William Barr has demonstrated that he believes the Department of Justice exists solely to protect Donald Trump, not defend the rule of law.
Time and again, he has chosen to sacrifice the credibility of the DOJ in order to do Donald Trump’s political bidding – whether it was whitewashing the Mueller report or being one of Trump’s point men on the Ukraine extortion scheme.
Thursday’s reporting sealed the deal that the Department of Justice is officially dead and won’t be coming back as long as this president is in the White House.