The Department of Justice has broad-ranging powers to decide who is prosecuted with the full weight of the federal government. Campaign rhetoric this year, especially by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, worries some department veterans about the possibility of major political interference in law enforcement by the next administration, NPR reports. “I think his campaign has demonstrated that he has the intent …to potentially improperly influence judicial or prosecutorial matters,” said Carrie Cordero, who was a career DOJ national security lawyer. Cordero cites Trump’s attacks on the Mexican heritage and alleged bias of a judge handling a civil fraud case against Trump University. Other Justice Department analysts said Trump may have crossed a line when he singled out Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, for possible scrutiny of antitrust and tax issues at his web retailer Amazon after the Post published negative stories on him.
Trump associates have called for Hillary Clinton to face criminal charges. DOJ said it would file no criminal charges against her after the FBI director concluded “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring such a case involving her State Department email. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has a big role in the Trump campaign, said at the Republican convention: “We cannot make the chief law enforcement officer of the United States someone who has risked America’s secrets and lied to the American people about it day after day after day.” Decisions to bring criminal charges are supposed to be insulated from politics so that no one with improper motives uses law enforcement for his or her own ends. “The most awesome power that the federal government has over the day-to-day lives of people is not through the intelligence community and is not through the military. It’s through the Department of Justice,” said Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution.