By Steve Neavling
Donald Trump is plotting to exact revenge on perceived enemies if he wins a second term, and he’d use the Justice Department to carry out politically ordered prosecutions, the former president has told advisers and friends, The Washington Post reports.
To execute his plan, Trump has prioritized picking an attorney general who would follow his orders, the sources said.
Using the Justice Department to take punitive steps for political purposes would be a radical departure from policies imposed by past presidents to restrict communication with prosecutors.
“It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly,” said Saikrishna Prakash, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia who studies executive power. “It’s hardly something we should aspire to.”
Among his critics that Trump wants the Justice Department to go after are his former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, former attorney general William P. Barr, and his ex-attorney Ty Cobb.
Trump has publicly pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” President Biden and his family.
“Trump himself is more likely to rot in jail than anyone on his alleged list,” said Cobb, who accused Trump of “stifling truth, making threats and bullying weaklings into doing his bidding.”
When told of Trump’s plans, Barr deadpanned, “I’m quivering in my boots.”
Rod J. Rosenstein, the Trump-appointed deputy attorney general who oversaw the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election, said it’s critical for the Justice Department to stay out of partisan tiffs.
“Making prosecutorial decisions in a nonpartisan manner is essential to democracy,” Rosenstein said. “The White House should not be meddling in individual cases for political reasons.”