President Donald Trump on Monday lamented the indictments of two Republican lawmakers who were his earliest supporters in Congress during the 2016 election and suggested they were politically motivated.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…”
The tweet amounted to Trump’s latest broadside against his attorney general, whose recusal from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign Trump has refused to forgive and continued to fume about.
But the tweet also marked Trump’s latest attack on the Justice Department, which has a long history of carrying out investigations and pursuing indictments in a nonpartisan fashion and federal prosecutors are strongly admonished not to let politics affect charging decisions in the way the President advocated on Monday.
The last Justice Department memorandum on the topic issued by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in 2016, which is still operative, states: “politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.”
Collins was charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements related to an alleged insider trading scheme.
Hunter was indicted for using campaign funds for personal use and were charged with counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy.
Both lawmakers have pleaded not guilty.
Republican congressional leadership considered the charges serious enough to move to strip both men of their committee assignments. Collins suspended his campaign days after he was indicted, while Hunter is continuing to campaign for reelection.
The tweet was just the latest instance in which Trump has defended one of his political allies despite significant evidence of wrongdoing and a federal prosecution. Trump also defended his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and insisted he was unfairly treated, even after Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of financial crimes.
In a second tweet, Trump said Democrats “must love” Sessions and likened the situation to Democrats support for former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired last year.
“The Dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusting UNTIL I FIRED HIM! Immediately he became a wonderful man, a saint like figure in fact. Really sick!” Trump tweeted.