A Department of Justice (DOJ) memo endorsed by Attorney General Merrick Garland expands a policy, which originated during the Trump administration, on how the department can investigate political candidates, potentially giving the former president additional protection from federal investigations as he considers another run for office.
The memo, which was first reported by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, requires investigators to receive written authorization from the Attorney General before opening investigations into presidential or vice-presidential candidates, or senior members involved in their political campaigns. It also limits what DOJ officials can say or how they can proceed in an investigation of these people.
The memo, written in May this year, reiterates the policy implemented by former Attorney General William Barr, who served under former President Donald Trump. At the time, many viewed Barr’s memo, written in February 2020, as being in response to Trump’s continued anger toward investigations involving him or his underlings, and how those investigations might paint a negative picture of him during that year’s presidential race. Many have decried the policy for allowing individuals like Trump and those connected to him a “pass” for investigations during an election yearor as long as Trump remained a political figure and not a private citizen.
It’s not uncommon for U.S. attorneys general to urge caution in elections, but Barr was reportedly the first to demand that investigators get his permission before opening any investigation into presidential or presidential candidates. the vice-presidency, or those involved in their campaigns.
In his note, Garland, who faces heavy criticism for not doing more to investigate or indict Trump for the former president’s past misdeeds, seeks to continue the policy started by Barr.
“The Department of Justice has a keen interest in prosecuting election-related crimes, such as those involving federal and state campaign finance laws, federal patronage laws, and corruption of the electoral process,” the note says. “As Department employees, however, we must be especially sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality and impartiality.”
Much like Barr, Garland asks investigators who think they might even face the “semblance of a problem” regarding the timing of statements or actions they take in investigations to “contact the Public Integrity Criminal Division (“PIN”) for more information.” Any new investigations must be approved by Garland, the memo says, citing guidelines Barr created in 2020.
The memo does not prevent investigations from proceeding against political figures. However, this slows down the process and requires more steps that many consider unnecessary to open investigations against individuals who investigators believe may have committed a crime.
Politics could play a huge role in any investigations DOJ officials may open (or have already opened) against Trump, especially if he decides sooner rather than later to announce his candidacy for president in 2024. Trump is reportedly considering do so as soon as this fall, partly because he thinks this will avoid possible investigations or charges against him.
Critics have warned that continuing Barr’s policies will do the country no good because it would allow Trump and others to avoid being held accountable for their actions, especially those related to the attack on the January 6, 2021 against the US Capitol.
“If Merrick Garland hides behind the institutional preoccupation with not appearing partisan and lets Trump slip away by declaring himself a presidential candidate, he will seriously undermine the rule of law and the principle that no one is above laws”, said journalist Steven Beschloss.
daily beast Columnist Wajahat Ali agreed that the memo created strong potential for Trump to face no repercussions for his involvement in the Capitol attack or his attempts to nullify the 2020 presidential election.
“As expected, nothing will happen to Trump and his associates, traitors who tried to overthrow our democracy. They will all fail. Ali tweeted. “Why? To protect the ‘institutions’ that have long let down the American people.
“It is deeply unlikely that there will be any indictments from Trump or anyone connected to his campaign before the midterms, and if Trump declares for 2024 in the coming weeks, as he has indicated he plans to do. do, the likelihood of him being indicted or prosecuted before the next presidential election is slim to non-existent,” Elizabeth McLaughlin, CEO of Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership, wrote in his newsletter. “And that, of course, will mean there will be no liability at all.”