Federal Employees News Digest
Political influence is endangering mission at DOJ
- By FEND Staff
- Jul 22, 2019
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.”