“He was always telling me that we need to use the F.B.I. and I.R.S. to go after people — it was constant and obsessive and is just what he’s claiming is being done to him now,” the report quoted Trump’s former chief of staff, John Kelly. It isn’t the first time he’s said it.
In 2022, Kelly told Schmidt that Trump wanted to target Andrew McCabe and James Comey.
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Trump fired Andrew McCabe mere days before his retirement, barring his federal pension, simply because he criticized Trump’s role in the Russia scandal. Trump was furious that McCabe’s wife supported Hillary Clinton. In fact, he said Trump was obsessed with her. McCabe ultimately got an extremely rare and invasive audit by the IRS that turned up nothing.
Comey’s clash with Trump became infamous, as he was fired after refusing to give Trump absolute loyalty.
“I would tell him why it was wrong, and while I was there I did everything I could to steer him away from it and tell him why it was a bad idea,” Kelly recalled. “I thought we were successful, but he would often ask a lot of people to do a lot of things that he didn’t want to do himself in the hopes that someone would do it and he could claim he did nothing wrong.”
The 2022 report cited Trump regularly demanding something be done to his enemies that would make them look bad.
“The president would carry on about having them investigated to the point that Mr. Kelly thought he needed to tell the president that what he wanted was highly problematic, explaining, in sometimes heated conversations, that what Mr. Trump wanted was not just potentially illegal and immoral but also could blow back on him,” said the Times.
Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen published his book Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics before Republicans even won the election and started their so-called “weaponization of government” subcommittee. Trump had desperately tried to kill Cohen’s previous book.
Cohen’s stories recall being let out of prison on house arrest due to the pandemic. When he was meeting with those ready to process his release, he was faced with the demand to sign a non-disclosure agreement saying he wouldn’t write a book about Donald Trump and he wouldn’t speak to the media about Donald Trump. Cohen and members of Congress have demanded how something like this became a formal request. While Cohen ultimately won a court case against this unprecedented demand, there has been no information about the request and how it reached Cohen.
The Haberman/Schmidt report also cited a “petty” decision to block then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi from using a military plane in 2019 to visit troops in Afghanistan.
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Then there was his war against former secretary of state, Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John Kerry. Trump was desperate to prosecute him. He claimed that Kerry broke the law by speaking to Iranian officials he negotiated a nuclear deal with. Trump was working to kill the deal, despite Kerry continuing to speak to his contact.
“As president, Mr. Trump repeatedly pressed senior officials behind closed doors about using the Justice Department to target Mr. Kerry,” the Times said, citing two people familiar with the matter. “Ultimately, federal prosecutors in New York were pushed by senior Justice Department officials in Washington to investigate Mr. Kerry, according to the U.S. attorney in Manhattan at the time.”
Trump’s campaign still calls Kerry a “threat to national security” despite never being able to prosecute him for it.
John Bolton, who served Trump as the national security adviser, eagerly denounced Trump’s playing the victim card.
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“The idea that he’s a paragon of virtue who didn’t do this to other people and is now a victim of this unfairness really is laughable,” he told the Times.