This is war.
Amid Thursday’s over-hyped brouhaha about Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador, a curious detail emerged. In Sessions’s recusal memo, it was explained who at the Justice Department would be handling any investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. “Consistent with the succession order for the Department of Justice, Acting Deputy Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente shall act as and perform the functions of the Attorney General with respect to any matters from which I have recused myself to the extent they exist,” reads Sessions’s official statement on the matter.
Except that if the Obama administration had its way, Dana Boente wasn’t supposed be the U.S. attorney to handle these matters in the event that Sessions recused himself. On February 10, USA Today reported the following:
Seven days before he left office, President Obama changed the order of succession without explanation to remove Boente from the list. Obama’s order had listed U.S. attorneys in the District of Columbia, the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of California.
That seems like awfully suspicious behavior. In fact the USA Today story noted this is pegged to the news that Trump quietly signed an executive order restoring Boente to the line of succession. The Obama administration chicanery was likely brought to White House’s attention after Obama holdover and acting Attorney General Sally Yates tried to usurp the powers of the president and countermand his immigration executive order, actions for which she was summarily fired.
Why would the Obama administration make this eleventh-hour change to the line of succession at the Justice Department? “At the time, I was told it was done in consultation with Trump transition,” Gregory Korte, the USA Today reporter who wrote the story quoted above, told me Thursday. “Looking back, that’s clearly not the case.”
In fact, it seems like it was quite obviously not the case. The man Obama placed at the head of the line of succession is D.C.’s U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, who is quite cozy with President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder. He is a former senior adviser to Holder, and he stayed on to work under Obama’s next AG Loretta Lynch before Obama appointed Phillips D.C.’s U.S. attorney in 2015. But Phillips goes way back with Holder—Holder first hired Philips in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1994. It’s also safe to say that the AG offices in the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of California are not hotbeds of Trump supporters.
Here’s the cherry on top:
As soon as it was evident Boentes was going to be handling any Russian investigations, Schumer called on him to appoint a special prosecutor.
Ever been so angry you wanted to scream and break things? That’s me right now.
Trump needs to fire every single Obama holdover. Now.