“This tweet alone may be an impeachable offense. This is such a disgrace,” Toobin said on CNN’s “New Day.”
In his tweet, Trump was referring to Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York, his earliest supporters in Congress, who were indicted last month within two weeks of each other on unrelated charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The President’s tweet is “so contrary to the traditions of the Department of Justice,” Toobin said Tuesday.
“The sentiment at the core of that tweet is so contrary to the mission of the Department of Justice, and it’s such an insult to the decent people who work there — the career prosecutors who worked through Democratic and Republican administrations,” he added.
A former assistant US attorney, Toobin said he would have been suspended or fired if he had suggested to his superior not indicting or investigating a member of the president’s party because of the person’s political affiliation.
Potentially impeachable offenses outlined by the Constitution include treason, bribery or “other high crimes and misdemeanors,” though an impeachment process is a political act and Congress is free to define actions necessitating the removal of a president from office.
A Justice Department decision to withhold prosecuting two GOP congressmen to help them win re-election would be highly unethical and a blatantly politically motivated break from the department’s nonpartisan mission. The tweet on Monday was the latest indication that Trump, who ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp,” believes his political allies should be immune from prosecution, regardless of the evidence stacked against them.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the President’s tweets.
Though Trump argued that the investigations began during the Obama administration, the charges against Collins — which include securities and wire fraud — stem from actions he allegedly took last year, and the Justice Department launched a criminal investigation into Hunter’s use of campaign funds after a referral from the Federal Election Committee.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Laura Jarrett contributed to this report.