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Opinion How a presidential president would stand up for the Justice Department

President Trump’s Tweeter feed.
President Trump’s Tweeter feed. (J. David Ake/AP)

AFTER THE Justice Department declined to turn over sensitive documents about the Russia investigation to pro-Trump members of Congress, President Trump tweeted:

A Rigged System - They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal “justice?” At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!

Under the onslaught of Mr. Trump’s improper, wrongheaded and simply false statements, there is a risk of forgetting just how abnormal this is. To counter the risk, we occasionally publish editorials featuring what a more presidential president might say. Here is how a president with a respect for the rule of law might respond to this congressional pressure:

“It is a cardinal rule of the Justice Department that sensitive details about ongoing investigations must be kept secret, even from — especially from — political leaders. This practice allows investigators to do their work free from undue political pressure.

“It ensures that people the Justice Department might question will not be tipped off about what they will be asked or what investigators know. It also protects people who are under scrutiny from public suspicion based on premature and incomplete investigative information. I have spent much of my presidency deriding unfair leaks. The last thing we need is more.

“Now a few lawmakers are asking the Justice Department to turn over a ‘scope memo,’ which details the investigation into Russian interference in our election. These Republican lawmakers may think they are pressuring the Justice Department on my behalf, but they should understand that this is neither legitimate oversight nor helpful to me. If, as I have long maintained, I have done nothing wrong, then I have nothing to fear from a legitimate investigation run by one of the most professional teams of investigators ever assembled. All it can do is exonerate me. If people on my staff broke the law without my knowledge, that is a betrayal of me, as well as the country, and I stand behind no one in wanting to see the wrongdoing uncovered.

“Reports that the latest shake-up of my legal team indicates that I intend to pick a fight with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are not true. I have full faith in the Justice Department leaders I have appointed, who promised to defend the rule of law, as well as the dedicated career department staff who have devoted their lives to that same purpose. I will not interfere with Mr. Mueller’s work, I will cooperate with his probe, and I will keep the respectful distance from the Justice Department that my predecessors maintained. I expect that my allies in Congress will follow my lead and allow the special counsel’s investigation to run its course.

“This principle of independent, apolitical law enforcement is what distinguishes us from a banana republic, where police powers are wielded to benefit or punish one party or another. It is a sacred trust. I will do everything to protect it, whatever effect it has on my own legal standing. Voters deserve no less.”

Read more here:

Ruth Marcus: Firing Mueller would only make things worse for Trump

The Post’s View: Under oath or not, Trump owes the country answers

Max Boot: Trump vs. Mueller is a battle for America’s soul

The Post’s View: What a presidential president would have said about Michael Cohen

The Post’s View: What a presidential president would have said about his first year