The headline-grabbing move was to ban officials from appearing at any partisan political events and seen as being part of any political outfit, according to Garland’s announcement…reports Ashe O
US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the big boss of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has slapped new bans and restrictions on non-career appointees and its permanent staff alike from taking part in any partisan political events as it has increasingly come under fire and widespread accusations of harbouring political bias.
The headline-grabbing move was to ban officials from appearing at any partisan political events and seen as being part of any political outfit, according to Garland’s announcement.
“Although longstanding Department policy has permitted non-career appointees to attend partisan political events, e.g., fundraisers and campaign events, in their personal capacities if they participated passively and obtained prior approval. Under the new policy, non-career appointees may not participate in any partisan political event in any capacity,” the Attorney General declared in a statement on Tuesday.
“In the past, when the Department has further limited attendance at partisan political events during Presidential election years, it has allowed an exception for non-career appointees who had close family members who were running for partisan offices or similar situations,” he added.
“The new policy permits no exceptions.”
The Washington Examiner said that Garland also noted that prior DOJ policy “allowed non-career employees to passively attend campaign events and other partisan political events in their personal capacities on the evening of election day”.
He said that now “non-career appointees may not attend partisan political events, even on the evening of election day”.
The timing of Garland’s directive is significant following scrutiny of the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago. Former President Donald Trump and his allies have accused the agency and officials of bias following the FBI’s unprecedented raid of his Florida resort home.
Republicans have said they believe a double standard has been on display with the DOJ’s handling of its investigation into Hunter Biden and its inquiry into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information on a private e-mail server when compared to the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago.
Garland on Tuesday pointed to a DOJ-wide memo issued by acting Assistant Attorney General for Administration, Jolene Lauria on Tuesday.
Lauria noted on Tuesday that certain DOJ employees, such as members of the FBI and those in the DOJ’s criminal and national security divisions, were already “further restricted” in their political activities, saying that previous Attorney Generals determined that “all political appointees will be subject to the rules that govern ‘further restricted’ employees under the Hatch Act to ensure there is not an appearance that politics plays any part in the Department’s day-to-day operations”.
She also stressed that political appointees at the DOJ may not “engage in partisan political activity” or “use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election”.
She said that DOJ officials “must be vigilant to prevent the appearance that any of our official duties are an effort to influence the outcome of an election”.
“As Department employees, we have been entrusted with the authority and responsibility to enforce the laws of the US in a neutral and impartial manner,” Garland said on Tuesday.
“In fulfilling this responsibility, we must do all we can to maintain public trust and ensure that politics — both in fact and appearance — does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work.”