Merrick Garland Changes Tune after Backlash, Bans DOJ Officials from Partisan Political Events

Following a severe backlash over allegations of political bias in the Department of Justice, Attorney General Merrick Garland has changed his tune and banned DOJ officials from attending partisan events.

AG Garland issued new restrictions on Tuesday to ban all Justice Department appointees from partisan political events, even in their personal capacities.

The attorney general announced the new rule in an official statement that says:

“Earlier today, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Administration Jolene Lauria issued a memorandum to remind all Department of Justice non-career employees of existing policies regarding restrictions on partisan political activities and to advise you of new restrictions on such activities that I have added.

“As Department employees, we have been entrusted with the authority and responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States in a neutral and impartial manner.

“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.

“It is with this objective in mind that I call your attention to the following new restrictions set forth in the memorandum referenced above:

“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.

“This restriction applies to both public and non-public partisan political events.

“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.

“The new policy permits no exceptions.

“Prior Department policy has allowed non-career employees to passively attend campaign events and other partisan political events in their personal capacities on the evening of Election Day.

“Under the new policy, non-career appointees may not attend partisan political events, even on the evening of Election Day.

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“I know you agree it is critical that we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards to avoid even the appearance of political influence as we carry out the Department’s mission.

“It is in that spirit that I have added these new restrictions on political activities by non-career employees,” Garland wrote.

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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