Four stories at the end of this week, all apparently timed to hit the press over the weekend and thus be less noticeable, all indicate that the Trump administration, specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, might finally be taking control respectively of the Justice Department and the FBI from the Democratic partisan hold-overs from the Obama administration, who for all intents and purposes have apparently been running those agencies during Trump’s first year in office.
The first story is significant in that the lawyer reassigned, James Baker, was also the lawyer used by Andrew McCabe for his defense during his eight hours of stone-walling during a closed-door House hearing this week about his part in the Mueller Russian collusion investigation, and is also a good friend to fired FBI director James Comey. The Trump administration has now removed this lawyer from the game.
The middle two stories indicate that the Trump administration is not going to let Obama and Clinton off the hook for their own apparent collusion with both the Russians and terrorists. (An update: It behooves every American to read the full and very detailed Politico report about the Obama administration’s effort to shut down any investigations of Hezbollah’s drug operation in order to get the Iran deal signed. I finally got around to reading it carefully, and found it to be quite damning, both for Obama and for everyone in his administration. And remember, this is coming from a media source that has generally been favorable to Democrats.)
The last story involves what appears increasingly to be a terrible abuse of power by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Justice Department in its prosecution of the Bundy family following their stand-off with federal officials, a prosecution that has now resulted in a mistrial because the Justice Department improperly withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.
That it took this long for the Trump administration to make these moves strongly illustrates how fragile our hold on democracy presently is. Trump was duly elected. By law, he is in charge, and has the right to fire anyone in the executive branch, as well as set policy there. Yet, he and his appointed cabinet officials have apparently felt they needed to tiptoe carefully during the first year of their administration, as if the people that Obama appointed and the policies he established were still in control.
Even now, I am unsure that these actions will put the Trump administration truly in charge of the administrative state. There is ample evidence in both the Uranium One deal and Iran deal that the Obama administration committed acts that at the least should destroy political careers, and at the most might even send some people to prison. Unless one of those scenarios actually happens, however, Trump will have done little to rein in the administration state. They will continue to act as if they can do whatever they want, defying elected officials, with impunity, because it will be apparent that there are no consequences for such actions.