Common Cause is among the co-signers of a letter sent today urging U.S. Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz to examine and make recommendations designed to stop improper contacts by President Trump and the White House with officials of the Department of Justice accountable.
The letter notes that since the Watergate scandal in the mid-1970s, the Justice Department’s policy has been to maintain only essential contact with the White House to ensure impartiality in DOJ investigations. In this administration, these “contact polities” appear to have fallen by the wayside, the letter suggests.
Questions about DOJ’s independence from the White House were spotlighted last week in the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee of his “serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI.” Comey told senators that Trump arranged for a one-on-one dinner and later a private meeting in the Oval Office in which the president encouraged him to end at least one portion of the FBI’s investigation of Russian efforts to interfere in last year’s U.S. election.
Comey also reported that the DOJ did not respond to his concerns about the propriety of those contacts; soon after he voiced them, Comey was fired by President Trump. Some legal experts argue that Trump’s dealings with Comey, if proven, could be construed as an attempt to obstruct justice.
Common Cause and other co-signers of the letter, which originated with a group called “United to Protect Democracy,” urged Inspector General Horowitz to exercise his power to “detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct in DOJ’s programs and personnel” and hold the administration accountable for their flagrant breach of ethics.
Office: Common Cause National
Tags: Executive Ethics