Contrasting With Trump Era, Garland Restricts DOJ-White House Contacts

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Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued a long-anticipated directive restricting Justice Department contact with the White House as a firewall against the kind of potential political interference seen under Donald Trump, reports USA Today. The former president casually broke with institutional norms, repeatedly calling on the department to launch investigations of his political rivals, including President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey.

Garland referred to necessary “safeguards” that have regulated communications between Justice and the White House as “designed to protect our criminal and civil law enforcement decisions, and our legal judgments from partisan or other inappropriate influences, whether real or perceived, direct or indirect.” The attorney general said that Justice would not alert the White House to “pending or contemplated criminal or law enforcement investigations or cases unless doing so is important for the performance of the president’s duties and appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.” The Garland directive said that when appropriate, communications involving criminal or civil law enforcement investigations would be restricted to the top three officials at Justice at most, along with the president, vice president, White House counsel and deputy counsel.

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