Critics fear Trump’s attacks are doing lasting damage to the justice system

“When people at the top show contempt for law and contempt for the legal process, that’s bound to trickle down,” said Pamela Karlan, a Stanford University law professor…

“I fear the continued battering of the attorney general almost makes it like commonplace, something to be expected between a president and his attorney general,” said Gonzales, who was forced to resign as attorney general in 2007 following a political uproar over the firing of U.S. attorneys. “It does undermine the credibility of the attorney general. If we ever got to a place where it was routine or common for the president to question the judgment of the attorney general, that would not be a good place.”

Trump’s consideration of pardons, while he praises associates who don’t cooperate with investigations and help those who praise him, also could have a chilling effect, law enforcement officials said. Without consulting Justice officials, the president previously pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, the immigration hard-liner convicted of criminal contempt of court, and conservative firebrand Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws.