Progressive Dems on House Panel Fault Biden DOJ Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wasg., listens as FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill June 10, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Tuesday, 22 June 2021 12:32 PM
Nine progressive House Democrats Tuesday faulted Attorney General Merrick Garland for an "apparent reluctance to correct the weaponization and politicization" of the Department of Justice.
In a letter posted by The Hill, the lawmakers — including Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and eight others on the House Judiciary Committee — urged reversal on five Trump era issues.
The letter wasn’t signed by 16 other Democrats on the panel, including its chair, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
"We write to express deep concern regarding your apparent reluctance to correct the weaponization and politicization of the Department of Justice by the Trump Administration. The public’s faith in the DOJ has been dangerously undermined, and it is essential to prioritize restoring public trust," they wrote. "We appreciate the work you have already done to reverse numerous Trump Administration positions in the court that were legally indefensible, but we strongly encourage you to do more to reestablish DOJ’s commitment to accountability, transparency, and the separation of powers."
The push come-on the wake of revelations the DOJ during the Trump administration seized the records of journalists during a leak investigation, and pressured DOJ officials to help in former President Donald Trump’s election battles.
"The Trump Administration undermined the Constitution as President Trump consistently abused his power by seeking to use the DOJ to protect his political allies, undermine career officials, and subvert congressional authority," they wrote.
"Restoring the American people’s faith will not come just from a return to previous norms. Instead, DOJ must address the unprecedented shattering of those norms, clearly communicate to the American people the real damage that was done, and commit to accountability for the previous administration."
The letter asks DOJ to reverse course on legal battles the new administration has sided with the Trump administration on, including a case filed by a public interest group seeking the Office of Legal Counsel memo presented to former Attorney General Bill Barr as he was preparing to release the Mueller report.
Efforts under the Biden administration to continue to block its release send "a concerning message that the agency under your leadership will continue the Trump Administration’s tactics to avoid transparency," the lawmakers wrote.
The group also criticized the department’s stance backing the Trump administration’s argument that Trump should be represented by government lawyers in a defamation suit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexual assault.
The lawmakers also pushed back on decisions on cases involving the clearing of Lafayette Square ahead of a photo session involving Trump and the department’s stance on a case where Congress sought documents tied to the Trump hotel.
"While we look forward to working with you to set forth policies that move the United States forward during this critical time, we strongly encourage DOJ to reestablish its commitment to bringing about accountability for the transgressions of the previous Administration and upholding fairness, transparency, and the separation of powers," they wrote.