President Donald Trump ratcheted up the rhetoric yesterday against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump indicated previously is likely to be fired after the midterm elections. Despite heeding advice that firing Sessions now would further magnify expected losses in November, Trump has filled the news with repeated indications that he has already decided to do so. The latest attack however is surprising in criticizing Sessions for the prosecution of two members of Congress for insider trading and campaign finance violations, respectively. GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York are not particularly sympathetic characters and Trump is complaining solely that they were “safe seats” that could now be lost. Of course, if Sessions were to consider the political ramifications for such prosecutions, he would violating his sworn constitutional duties as Attorney General.
“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…..”
Whether these men are “popular” or hold safe seats is entirely immaterial to the decisions of the Justice Department. Indeed, such considerations would establish the very political bias that Trump has long-complained about. These are viewed as strong cases investigated and charged by career prosecutors.
Moreover, these prosecutions were brought well before the informal period before an election during which the Justice Department asks prosecutors to avoid any actions that might affect an election. Since House members are elected every two years, any prosecution would obviously impact the next election but the timing of these prosecutions is in full conformity with the informal rule.