Study: Political influence is endangering mission at DOJ

Nearly a half-century after rules and practices at the Department of Justice were tightened to prevent political meddling, once again critics in Congress and good-government groups are crying foul at the sheer breadth of outside influence evident on present-day DOJ operations.

A new report by the nonprofit good government group Project on Government Oversight explores the problem—and offers POGO’s recommended remedies for it.

The cornerstone of the cure are restrictions in a bill proposed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). That legislation—the Security from Political Interference in Justice Act—would crack down on all forms of outside influence, in particular from the White House.

The bill would “require the White House and DOJ to log and report all communications pertaining to specific cases or investigations that the department might undertake,” according to a POGO summary included in the report. “The logs would be shared with Congress. Justice Department ombudsmen would also review the information every six months and notify Congress if any of it raises concerns about political interference.”

“This would strengthen a historical norm without unduly constraining whoever holds the office of president,” the POGO report said. “The legislation recognizes the propriety of communications about policy, legislation, appointments, personnel, and other non-legal matters, and it respects executive privilege by not requiring disclosure of proper top-level contacts between the White House and the Department of Justice, except to DOJ’s own oversight agencies.”

Reader comments

Tue, Jul 30, 2019

Some of these comments are sad to see. We have here an article about a study examining the current DoJ and the political meddling taking place therein, and yet some of these folks immediately revert to whining. This article is not about Reno, Holder, 2009-2016, or any other "whatabout"-isms you can shield your delicate sensitivities with. The article is about a current problem that demands current solutions for a better future. We have no time for you being triggered into defensive weeping by a nonprofit study. Quit your partisan crying and be a patriot - this nation deserves better than that.

Mon, Jul 15, 2019

Reno, Holder and the other former attorney generals have all been corrupt insidious poor excuses for being a human being and lied about so many points of conflict of interests.

Fri, Jul 12, 2019

What a joke. All of a sudden they're worried about "outside" (white house) interference. Where were they 2009-2016?

Thu, Jul 11, 2019

What a joke! Eric Holder totally corrupted this department in line with the bidding of his boss in the White House. What a hypocritical article. This department needs a thorough clean-up.

Thu, Jul 11, 2019 Charles Morris California

Under the Trump Administration, the integrity of justice process is being supplanted by slavish loyalty to the president instead of the strict adherence to U.S. and the spirit of the law. We are experiencing a right-wing coup d'état against the rule of law. Sadly, the under this administration, like other executive branch departments, the new mission is the Department of Injustice.

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