Sessions’ Path is Now Clearer to Refashion DOJ

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The political cloud over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to step back from any investigation touching the Trump campaign may have a silver lining for an official who appears preoccupied by violent crime, drugs and immigration, the Associated Press reports. Now, his path to continue refashioning the Justice Department, what the AP calls an “unmistakable pivot in critical areas of civil rights, criminal justice and drug policy,” seems clearer. “There have been transitions before where the department headed off in new directions, but there is traditionally a period of new people coming in and studying and learning about issues before taking bold and dramatic new policy directions,” said William Yeomans, a 30-year ex-DOJ official. “This is probably unprecedented in the speed and dramatic change in course that’s happened.”

Sessions has hinted at a reversal of the department’s hands-off position on marijuana enforcement, saying there’s more violence surrounding the drug than “one would think.” Although the DOJ push to overhaul troubled police agencies was a staple effort of the last administration, Sessions announced his desire to “pull back” on federal scrutiny of local law enforcement, winning praise from some quarters. “Support for the police particularly in these trying times is extremely welcome and good news to our members,” said Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police. The Justice Department can’t “tackle all criminal justice challenges” and must use its resources in a smart and targeted way, said Timothy Heaphy, an Obama appointee as a U.S. Attorney in Virginia. “My fear is that the new department is not as mindful of those resource constraints and seems to want to pursue a more ideological agenda, and I think that could be both ineffective and costly.”

 

 

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