Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Tuesday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) now bans its political appointees from participating in partisan campaign events of any kind.
Faced with stinging criticism in the wake of the FBI’s unprecedented raid on former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, the DOJ saw fit to change its long-standing policy of allowing such activities.
Garland told employees in a memo that the agency must “do all we can to maintain public trust” and, in fact and appearance, not compromise its integrity. It applied to all “non-career” employees appointed by presidential administrations.
Attorney General Merrick Garland is clamping down on the potential politicization of the Justice Department after substantial pressure from congressional Republicans. https://t.co/ZmJCeYXu1n
— Newsmax (@newsmax) August 31, 2022
The new policy is a reversal of older standards that allowed attendance of political events for appointees if it was irregular, participation was passive, and it was approved beforehand.
Attendance was previously restricted during presidential election years unless close family members were running for office. The new regulations bar such participation, even if the event is private.
The Justice Department this year has developed a credibility issue, especially among Republicans and conservatives. It culminated with the Mar-a-Lago raid early last month.
FBI agents executed a search warrant that shocked many in the nation. Garland personally signed off on the request asking a judge to approve the raid, and 11 sets of classified documents were reportedly seized.
Since that point, both the former president and several Republicans have accused the Biden administration of weaponizing the Justice Department and going after his political enemy.
A senior FBI official abruptly resigned recently after receiving congressional criticism for alleged political bias. The Washington Times reported that assistant special agent in charge Timothy Thibault was forced to step down.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) issued a press release in May publicly accusing Thibault of political favoritism in the case of presidential son Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Garland’s new directive is a clear sign that the political pressure on the DOJ is having an effect. Such a move as the unprecedented raid on Trump’s Florida home was bound to cause waves, and it did. Now Garland is picking up the pieces.