Buried in Trump’s recent onslaught of Executive Orders, Trump just changed the line of succession at the Department of Justice, which will come into play when a prosecutor is chosen to lead the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
In his first move, Trump issued an Executive Order certifying that, in the instance of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from a case, the next person in the Department of Justice’s order of succession would be the United States Attorney fort he Eastern District of Virginia, currently held by Dana Boente.
When Sessions recused himself over having undisclosed contact with a Russian ambassador, Boente stepped in as the leading prosecutor for the case. Boente’s first move in the investigation: allowing James Comey to testify.
Comey delivered news that absolutely gutted the Trump administration’s position on Russia. He revealed that not only did the FBI have no information to support Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped him, but also dealt the blow that the FBI is investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to undermine the 2016 election.
Because he allowed Comey to testify in the first place, the blame falls on Boente’s shoulders.
Trump’s most recent Executive Order, while not changing Boente’s office’s position in the hierarchy of the DOJ line of succession, does swap the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois for the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Why move the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina up in the line of succession? Because that office becomes vacant in less than a month, clearing the way for Donald Trump to name his own appointment. If Trump then fires Boente, he will benefit from a dramatic reversal of fortunes in terms of loyalty at the DOJ.
In less than a month, Trump will name his own appointment to the office that is literally next in line to investigate what may very well be an impeachable offense. While the Sessions recusal was indeed a victory not only for democrats, but the integrity of our entire democracy, we must remain vigilant that Trump does not manipulate the system and install prosecutors whom he knows will deliver him favorable results in an impending investigation.
Trump can try to rig the system, but the truth will come out and he will have to face the music for his treasonous activities.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.