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'A Definitionally Impeachable Offense': Blatant Trump Call to Weaponize DOJ for Political Ends Clear Violation, Say Legal Experts

"The president is now arguing that the Justice Department should make its justice decisions based on what's best for the Republican Party."

Two of President Donald Trump's biggest loyalists in Congress, Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), were both indicted on criminal charges this summer. (Photo: Bill Clark/Roll Call/CQ and Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

"An all-out assault on the rule of law" is how one former high-ranking Justice Department official described President Donald Trump's latest attack on the department in which he blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the criminal indictments of two politically-loyal Republican congressmen.

Appearing to express dismay on Monday at the investigations which brought about charges against two of his most loyal supporters in Congress, Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Trump suggested that allowing Hunter and Collins to run for their Republican seats in the upcoming midterm elections without informing the public of the charges would be preferable to following the rule of law, and sarcastically slammed Sessions for potentially harming the GOP's control over Congress.

The president's statement was denounced as "shameless" by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who previously stood up to Trump by refusing to enforce his Muslim ban, while former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called it clear proof of Trump's "contempt for the rule of law."

Trump's complaint came weeks after Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse his presidential run in 2015, was indicted on charges of insider trading. Hunter, also an early and vocal supporter of the president, was accused of misusing $250,000 of campaign funds in late August.

Collins suspended his bid for re-election after his indictment, while Hunter has indicated he has no plans to end his run. The latest internal poll taken after Hunter's charges were announced found that he was tied with his progressive Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, contrasting with earlier surveys in which Hunter was ahead by eight points. 

Contrary to Trump's claim that both indictments were the result of "long-running Obama-era investigations," the DOJ did not open its investigation into Hunter until March 2017, after Trump took office. The Collins probe began in July 2017. 

Trump's attacks on the DOJ and Sessions provide the latest evidence that the president believes the attorney general's job is to protect him and his political allies while targeting his opponents. Last month Trump directed Sessions to "look into all of the corruption on the 'other side'."

Journalist John Nichols pointed out that Trump's flagrant attempt to use his authority to favor his own political party in an upcoming election by directing federal prosecutors to ignore two congressmen's allegations of criminal conduct, amounts to the definition of an impeachable offense.

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