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President Trump Appears to Believe He Is the Attorney General of the United States

The commander in chief is, in his words, “actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.” President Donald Trump made that comment on Tuesday from the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews when discussing high-profile pardons and commutations.

“I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country,” Trump said, once again asserting his “legal right” to interfere in criminal cases.

Attorney General William Barr is actually the chief law enforcement officer in the country. According to the law of the land, the president “shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, an Attorney General of the United States. The Attorney General is the head of the Department of Justice.” And according to the Department of Justice website [ensuing emphasis ours], the “Judiciary Act of 1789 created the Office of the Attorney General which evolved over the years into the head of the Department of Justice and chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government.”

“The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested,” the DOJ helpfully notes. “In matters of exceptional gravity or importance the Attorney General appears in person before the Supreme Court.”

Although it might be amusing to picture President Trump himself litigating in front of the Supreme Court, we all know that’s not a thing.

Article II Section 3 of the Constitution says that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States”:

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

[Image via Fox News screengrab]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.