President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to “get involved” with the Justice Department’s ongoing task of producing documents to lawmakers after accusations the agency has refused requests on a variety of topics.
The message thrust the President deeper into an ongoing battle between conservatives and the Justice Department, and specifically with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also oversees the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
Trump has so far avoided firing Rosenstein, who he’s steamed over in private, and has asserted only limited executive power in compelling the Justice Department to release disputed documents.
His message on Tuesday signaled he may be willing to delve into the fray further.
“A Rigged System – They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal “justice?” At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”
The Justice Department declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.
Trump’s declaration came amid a string of other tweets calling into question the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, bolstering the impression that Trump remains keenly attuned to the matter, despite his insistence that North Korea and trade are dominating his agenda.
“There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),” he wrote earlier Wednesday. “What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!”
Republican lawmakers have accused the Justice Department and Rosenstein of hampering their attempts to obtain documents about matters like the Hillary Clinton email investigation and FISA warrant applications that they say demonstrate bias among top officials.
Some GOP lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus, led by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, have drafted articles of impeachment for Rosenstein, who blasted the effort as “extortion” on Tuesday.
The Justice Department informed Meadows and other Republican lawmakers on Monday that it would not turn over a memo Rosenstein drafted detailing the scope of Mueller’s investigation because it pertains to an ongoing criminal investigation, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Speaking Tuesday, Rosenstein said the Justice Department understands Congress has an important oversight role, but not at the expense of interfering with ongoing investigations.
“There are people who have been making threats, privately and publicly, against me for quite some time,” he said. “And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”
Trump has so far resisted calls to fire Rosenstein, but hasn’t ruled out the prospect. He said during a phone interview on Fox News last week he wouldn’t remain on the sidelines forever.
“You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI — it’s a disgrace,” Trump said. “And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t.”