Politics

Elizabeth Warren wants to create a Justice Department task force to investigate Trump administration corruption

Key Points
  • Elizabeth Warren said she would create an independent DOJ task force to investigate corruption by government officials during the Trump administration.
  • The Democratic presidential hopeful said her goal is to restore "integrity and competence" to the federal government after President Trump leaves office.
  • "If we are to move forward to restore public confidence in government and deter future wrongdoing, we cannot simply sweep this corruption under the rug in a new administration," Warren wrote.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a town hall event at Weeks Middle School on January 19, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday she would create an independent task force in the Justice Department to investigate corruption by government officials during the Trump administration.

The Massachusetts senator said her goal is to restore "integrity and competence" to the federal government after President Donald Trump leaves office.

"If we are to move forward to restore public confidence in government and deter future wrongdoing, we cannot simply sweep this corruption under the rug in a new administration," Warren wrote in the plan.

The progressive Democrat cited a report by a nonpartisan good government group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which found "unprecedented" corruption in the Trump administration, as well as other reports of self-dealing among administration officials and the president's family members.

"That's why I will direct the Justice Department to establish a task force to investigate violations by Trump administration officials of federal bribery laws, insider trading laws, and other anti-corruption and public integrity laws, and give that task force independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal and civil violations," she said.

Warren, who has been a fierce advocate of anti-corruption legislation, went a step further on Tuesday by calling for investigations and possible prosecutions of Trump administration officials.

Historically, presidents have been wary to pursue investigations of their predecessors, even from opposing parties. Trump has come under scrutiny for his attempts to wield the power of the Justice Department against his perceived enemies.

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Trump is expected to face the first full day of Senate impeachment trial proceedings on Tuesday over allegations that he abused his power and obstructed Congress in an effort to pressure the government of Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. The president has denied wrongdoing.

Biden, the Democratic front-runner in the presidential race, has said he would let the Justice Department decide whether to investigate Trump but would not order such an investigation.

"Look, I would not direct my Justice Department like this president does. I would let them make their independent judgment," Biden said during the fifth Democratic debate in November.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The roll-out of Warren's plan comes in the final days before the first delegates are awarded in the Democratic contest. Iowa will host the first caucus on Feb. 3, followed by voting in New Hampshire on Feb. 11. Warren is polling in third place nationally, behind Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Warren also pledged in the new plan to:

  • Ask for the resignations of all political appointees, including U.S. attorneys, with exceptions for national security and continuity.
  • End federal contracts that the government entered into "as a result of corruption in the Trump administration"
  • Announce her Cabinet choices by Dec. 1, and other top nominations by the middle of that month.
  • Refuse to hire any current lobbyists, or any individual who served as a corporate lobbyist in the past six years, with no exceptions.

The plan also calls for a diverse Cabinet and senior leadership team. Warren committed in the plan to have at least half of her Cabinet positions filled by women and people who are "non binary," or who do not identify as male or female.