(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque, AP/Nati Hamik)

Conservatives were angry when they thought Obama was going after political opponents

Under Obama, conservatives were irate thinking that the government would be used to go after "enemies"


Matthew Sheffield
July 24, 2017 4:45PM (UTC)

In a Monday morning tweet, President Donald Trump seemed to give Attorney General Jeff Sessions a piece of advice about what it would take to get onto his good side again: start up an investigation of the former Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

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The president wrote the tweet above in the context of discussing a recent admission from Sen. Chuck Schumer that Democrats should stop blaming alleged Russian election interference for Clinton's loss in 2016 to Trump.

As is often the case, Trump's emphasis on Clinton seems to have been spurred on by recent programming decisions at his favorite television channel, Fox News, where calling for investigations into her past has been a hot topic of late.

Trying to re-open Department of Justice inquiries into Clinton's alleged misdeeds is a contradiction to statements Trump made when he was the president-elect last December when he told New York Times reporters, "I don't want to hurt the Clintons," and that prosecuting Hillary Clinton would be "very, very divisive for the country."

The right's renewed interest in investigating Clinton is also a reversal of Republicans' earlier outrage at what they said was the former administration of Barack Obama "politicizing" law enforcement, particularly of the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax collection agency has come under heavy fire from the right after it was accused of improperly delaying the non-profit incorporation requests of "Tea Party" groups. A subsequent internal review by the agency's inspector general found that several IRS employees had violated government policies but later investigations by the FBI and the Department of Justice found that no laws had been violated.

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Despite multiple accounts (including first-hand ones) that some Tea Party groups have scammed their donors, Republican politicians have insisted that the IRS' caution about groups claiming to be affiliated with the movement was a deliberate strategy to harm conservatives.

In a 2015 speech calling for the abolishment of the IRS, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz argued the agency should be completely dismantled because it had been fundamentally compromised.

“The last two years have fundamentally changed the dynamics of this debate [on the tax code],” he said. “As we have seen the weaponization of the IRS, as we have seen the Obama administration using the IRS in a partisan manner to punish its political enemies.”

Months into the Trump administration, Republicans are still calling for further investigations into the agency. In April, two GOP congressmen formally called for a second DOJ investigation into the tax collection agency.

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“Taxpayers deserve to know that the DOJ’s previous evaluation was not tainted by politics,” Reps. Kevin Brady and Peter Roskam, respectively the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and the panel’s tax policy subcommittee wrote in an open letter to Sessions.

Now that he's the president, it seems like Trump is aware that he cannot directly tell Sessions to prosecute Clinton but his tweet all but asks the attorney general, and Republicans in Congress, to do just that. So much for not politicizing law enforcement.


Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

MORE FROM Matthew Sheffield

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Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions Russia Election Interference

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