Sasse on Trump's Criticism of DOJ Prosecutions: U.S. 'Not Some Banana Republic'

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), left, and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) confer at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) declared that the U.S. justice system shouldn’t be regarded as one in a “banana republic” after President Trump tweeted against the ongoing prosecution of two Republican congressmen on corruption charges.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) was indicted Aug. 21 on charges of using a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions for personal expenses, wire fraud and filing false records with the Federal Election Commission.

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was indicted Aug. 8 on charges related to alleged insider trading, which was the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation announced last fall. Collins was charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements along with his son, Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of his son’s fiancée. He has decided to not run for re-election.

Trump tweeted Monday, “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff……”

“The Democrats, none of whom voted for Jeff Sessions, must love him now. Same thing with Lyin’ James Comey. The Dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusting – UNTIL I FIRED HIM! Immediately he became a wonderful man, a saint like figure in fact. Really sick!” Trump added.

Sasse responded to the tweets in a statement Monday.

“The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice – one for the majority party and one for the minority party,” the Republican senator said. “These two men have been charged with crimes because of evidence, not because of who the president was when the investigations began.”

“Instead of commenting on ongoing investigations and prosecutions, the job of the president of the United States is to defend the Constitution and protect the impartial administration of justice,” Sasse added.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tweeted, “This is not the conduct of a President committed to defending and upholding the constitution, but rather a President looking to use the Department of Justice to settle political scores.”

Sessions fired back against Trump’s repeated criticism for the first time last month. Trump complained to Fox News that he “put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department.”

“While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” Sessions said. “I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”

The Washington Post published today excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, which comes out Sept. 11. Woodward reports that Trump said of Sessions, “This guy is mentally retarded. He’s this dumb Southerner. … He couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”