Tags: Donald Trump | Jeff Sessions | Law Enforcement | attorney general | department of justice | the new york times | doj

NYT: Sessions' Failure to Defend DOJ Defies AG Tradition

Image: NYT: Sessions' Failure to Defend DOJ Defies AG Tradition
Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AP)

By    |   Monday, 05 Feb 2018 10:35 AM

Even as President Donald Trump has led the most prolonged and public attack on the Justice Department in history, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of those in his position of protecting the institution from such interference by remaining largely silent, The New York Times reported Monday.

"What is unusual is the FBI and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action," said Harvard Law Prof. Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under President Geoerge W. Bush. "Why isn't he sticking up for the department?"

Many prosecutors say Sessions' tepid response is deflating morale among department employees and has increased fears prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.

"Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president," said Matthew Axelrod, a former Justice Department official who is a partner at Linklaters. "Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It's critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back."

Although the Business Insider reported Sessions did praise his second-in-command Rod Rosenstein hours before the disputed Devin Nunes memo was released Friday by saying he represents "the kind of quality and leadership we want in the department" and he had "great confidence in the men and women of this department," many commentators said that backing was quite meager when he added, "But no department is perfect."

One such previous example often cited of far more courageous and strong backing is when ailing attorney general John Ashcroft from his hospital bed allowed his acting replacement, James Comey, to defy the Bush administration over a surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had called unconstitutional.

Sessions, who has been heavily and publicly criticized by Trump in the past year, declined to comment to the Times.

"Sessions' silence is evidence that Trump's public neutering of anyone close to this investigation is working," said Paul Pelletier, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia who was a long-time federal prosecutor. "It is deleterious to the whole criminal justice process."

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of protecting the Department of Justice from public attack, according to The New York Times.
attorney general, department of justice, the new york times, doj
Monday, 05 Feb 2018 10:35 AM
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