Strongly urge Attorney General to “do more to reestablish DOJ’s commitment to accountability, transparency, and the separation of powers” while specifically addressing five actions — from defending Trump against E. Jean Carroll to violently removing protesters from Lafayette Square — in order to restore public trust in the Department of Justice
WASHINGTON — U.S.Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Ted Lieu (CA-33) led fellow members of the House Judiciary Committee today in calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to take immediate and aggressive steps to correct unprecedented transgressions by the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) while bringing about accountability for the previous Administration’s dangerous acts. The lawmakers specifically emphasized five recent examples that must be addressed, and urged the Attorney General to do significantly more to establish DOJ’s commitment to accountability, transparency, and the separation of powers. They also requested a timely briefing on this urgent topic.
“We write to express deep concern regarding your apparent reluctance to correct the weaponization and politicization of the Department of Justice by the Trump Administration. The public’s faith in the DOJ has been dangerously undermined, and it is essential to prioritize restoring public trust,” said the House lawmakers. “We strongly encourage DOJ to reestablish its commitment to bringing about accountability for the transgressions of the previous Administration and upholding fairness, transparency, and the separation of powers.”
As the lawmakers told Attorney General Garland that, “restoring the American people’s faith will not come just from a return to previous norms,” they called on him to address the unprecedented shattering of those norms, clearly communicate to the American people the real damage that was done, and commit to accountability for the previous administration. They specifically called attention to five recent instances that must be addressed:
- DOJ continues to block the release of the full 2019 Office of Legal Counsel memo to former Attorney General Barr to downplay President Trump’s obstruction of the Mueller investigation; mischaracterizing the document in order to hide its contents from public disclosure.
- DOJ’s continuing defense of former President Trump in the defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll; implying that the agency is continuing to either act as the former President’s personal attorney or that federal officials are immune from civil liability if inflammatory or discriminatory statements unrelated to their official duties are made during their time in office.
- DOJ’s request to dismiss the lawsuits filed against President Trump and Attorney General Barr over the violent and forceful removal of peaceful protestors at Lafayette Square; sending a message that any President may use brutality against protestors who disagree with their positions while also undermining the dire need for accountability for such a clear violation of constitutional rights.
- DOJ’s continued involvement in Elizabeth Hunter et al v U.S. Department of Education; upholding the ability for taxpayer funded colleges to discriminate against LGBTQ students and undermining the Biden Administration’s stated effort to defend the LGBTQ community under the law.
- DOJ’s recent appeal of a decision that finally granted Congress access to Trump Hotel documents as part of an investigation of possible constitutional violations, conflicts of interest and other improprieties by the former President. This appeal increases the likelihood of possible future abuses of presidential power at the expense of the people.
Today’s letter follows four years in which the Trump Administration methodically undermined the Constitution as President Trump consistently abused his power by using the DOJ to protect his political allies, undermine career officials, and subvert congressional authority. The Trump DOJ — particularly under the leadership of Attorney General Barr — also set a dangerous precedent for any president interested in obscuring information from the public and Congress, thwarting the rule of law, and acting with impunity. Additionally, the Trump DOJ secretly subpoenaed records on Members of Congress and journalists.
The letter is signed by U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Ted Lieu, Cori Bush, Steve Cohen, Madeleine Dean, Veronica Escobar, Sylvia R. Garcia, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., and Mondaire Jones.
The text of the letter is available here.
Issues: Government Reform & Ethics