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Add one more to the pile: America’s “chief law enforcement officer.”
Doubling-down on his assault on America’s legal system, Trump declared Tuesday that he has every right to protect his friends and punish his enemies using the country’s federal criminal procedures because he’s technically America’s top cop — or so he said.
Any reluctance on his part to step in and oversee who gets prosecuted for crimes, and who doesn’t, is purely a matter of discretion on his part.
“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country, but I’ve chosen not to be involved.”
That may sound like just another dose of Trumpian megalomania. But his new self-granted title certainly describes the way the president's been acting lately. Trump’s been on a collision course with America’s traditionally independent judicial system that’s escalated wildly since the attempt to impeach him collapsed in defeat earlier this month.
Since then, Trump’s been on a spree. On Tuesday, he handed out 11 pardons and commutations, including a handful of political allies and high-profile officials convicted of corruption. He’s railed against the treatment of his decades-old buddy and former political advisor Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress during the Russia investigations to protect Trump. The president appeared to tweet instructions on Stone’s criminal case to his own attorney general and tweeted out venomous attacks on the judge and jury forewoman involved in the case.
Trump has even threatened to sue the four prosecutors who handled the Stone proceeding. Those officials resigned from the case en masse after Attorney General William Barr took the all-but-unprecedented step of softening their sentencing recommendation. That not only interfered with their case but effectively protected a friend of the president from a lengthy prison term.
All that chaos has alarmed former Department of Justice officials, who circulated an open letter criticizing Trump and calling on Barr to resign. So far, the letter’s gotten over 2,400 signatures from ex-agency employees, including former federal prosecutors and others.
Trump’s new self-given moniker doesn’t reflect the traditional gap between the president and the attorney general in the administration of criminal justice in the United States. It’s even contradicted by Trump’s own White House web site, which explicitly states that the attorney general “is the chief law enforcement officer of the federal government.”
Cover image: President Donald Trump waves as he departs after pardoning Butter, the national Thanksgiving turkey, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.