It has been said that the most important office in a democracy is that of citizen. And so as citizens it’s up to us to prevent the politicization of law enforcement and the corruption of our institutions.
Protect Democracy has been working to harden and enforce the norms preventing political pressure from influencing the impartial administration of justice.
Here is what we have done:
Demands for the New Attorney General – AG nominee William Barr must protect the traditional independence of the Department of Justice, including the Special Counsel investigation, from political interference by the White House. Protect Democracy has shared these demands with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and others. (Dec. 14, 2018)
Amicus Brief – Filed by Protect Democracy in United States v. Saipov laying out the constitutional limitations on the President’s involvement in criminal prosecutions, including the decision to seek the death penalty in a particular criminal case and urging the court to scrutinize whether improper influence occurred in the Saipov prosecution. (Sept. 24, 2018)
- Explainers – Created by Protect Democracy for advocacy to Members of Congress. (July 6, 2018).
- Amicus Brief – Filed by Protect Democracy on behalf of former Department of Justice officials in United States v. AT&T laying out the constitutional basis for rules limiting communications between the White House and Department of Justice regarding enforcement matters involving specific parties and urging the court to utilize available procedures to redress potential improper communications. (March 9, 2018).
- White Paper – “No “Absolute Right” to Control DOJ: Constitutional Limits on White House Interference with Law Enforcement Matters.” (March 9, 2018).
- Op-ed – “Constitutional Limits on White House Interference in Specific Enforcement Matters.” (March 9, 2018). Lawfare. A summary of the white paper above.
- Op-ed – “Trump’s Politicization of Law Enforcement is Authoritarian in Nature.” (March 9, 2018). Take Care. A review of how authoritarians politicize law enforcement.
Protect Democracy publications regarding rules limiting communications between the White House and Department of Justice:
- Memo – “White House Communications with the DOJ and FBI” explaining the history, purpose and content of long-standing rules limiting communications between the White House and Department of Justice. (March 8, 2017).
- Op-ed – “On the Importance of Limiting White House-DOJ Contacts: It’s Not Just About Obstruction.” (May 22, 2017). Lawfare.
- Op-ed – “Ten Questions for a New FBI Director” suggesting questions for Senators to ensure that any nominee commits to certain baseline aspects of independence and impartiality before being confirmed. (June 6, 2017). Take Care.
Protect Democracy legal filings regarding potential improper communications between the White House and Department of Justice or other agencies regarding specific enforcement matters:
- Lawsuit – Protect Democracy v. Department of Justice to compel the release of documents about whether anyone in the Trump Administration improperly interfered with DOJ’s review of the merger between AT&T and Time-Warner. (February 9, 2018).
- Lawsuit – Protect Democracy v. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to compel the release of documents about possible instances of White House communications about law enforcement investigations and cases involving specific parties. (February 26, 2018).
- Lawsuit – Protect Democracy v. Department of Justice to compel the release of documents about whether anyone in the Trump Administration improperly interfered with DOJ’s review of the merger between 21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company. (March 5, 2018).
Protect Democracy enforcement and oversight requests regarding potential violations of rules limiting contacts between the White House and Department of Justice:
- Letter – To Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz from Protect Democracy requesting an inquiry into whether violations of DOJ policy had occurred regarding possible communications between the White House and DOJ regarding the proposed merger between Anthem and Cigna. (March 23, 2017).
- Letter – To White House Counsel Donald McGahn from Protect Democracy urging him to enforce his existing policy limiting communications between the White House and Department of Justice and to issue a comprehensive policy restricting contacts between the White House and other agencies regarding matters involving specific parties. (April 18, 2017).
- FOIA Request – To the Department of Justice from Protect Democracy requesting any existing and in force DOJ policies limiting communications between DOJ and the White House. (April 18, 2017). DOJ’s response to this request confirmed that the 2009 memo from Attorney General Eric Holder to Department staff limiting such communications is presently in force.
- FOIA Request – To the Office of Science and Technology, White House from Protect Democracy requesting the current policy governing communications between the Executive Office of the President and federal agencies. (June 11, 2017). In response to the request, we received emails from White House lawyers, including Stefan Passatino, indicating that the Office of White House Counsel was in the “final phase,” of completing the new policy, but it still has not been publicly adopted.
- Letter – To Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz from Protect Democracy and other groups requesting an inquiry into failures on the part of DOJ leadership to enforce the policy limiting contacts between the White House and DOJ as reported in congressional testimony by then-FBI Director James Comey (June 12, 2017).
- Letter – To DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility Head Robin Ashton and Inspector General Michael Horowitz from Protect Democracy requesting an inquiry into whether DOJ had succumbed to White House pressure to open investigations of the President’s political opponents. (January 4, 2018).
Congressional oversight efforts to prevent improper political interference in law enforcement matters involving specific parties:
- Letter – To Attorney General Jeff Sessions from Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting that DOJ issue a policy limiting communications between the White House and DOJ with respect to criminal or civil enforcement matters and ensure compliance with it. (February 16, 2017).
- Letter – To President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions from Senator Catherine Cortez Masto urging compliance with White House and DOJ contacts policies, as well as issuance of a comprehensive White House contacts policy extending to all federal law enforcement agencies. (March 15, 2017).
- Letter – To White House Counsel Donald McGahn from Senator Claire McCaskill seeking the adoption of a comprehensive contacts policy to prevent White House interference in party-specific agency decisions, such as government contracting. (May 24, 2017).
- Letter – To White House Counsel Donald McGahn from Senators Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken and Sheldon Whitehouse urging the White House Counsel to enforce the existing White House-DOJ contacts policy and also issue a comprehensive policy, in line with historic norms, across all federal law enforcement agencies. (May 5, 2017).
- Letter – To Nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim from Senator Richard Blumenthal memorializing the in-person meeting they had in which Mr. Delrahim committed to inform the Senate Judiciary Committee if the White House communicated with DOJ Antitrust in contravention of the White House or DOJ contacts policies. (July 24, 2017). This followed several Questions for the Record posed by Senators to Mr. Delrahim as part of his confirmation hearing.
- Letter – To Acting IRS Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter from Senator Ron Wyden urging the adoption of and compliance with a comprehensive contacts policy (as in prior Administrations) to prevent improper communications between the White House and the IRS. (December 20, 2017).
- “AT&T Judge Rejects Brief Seeking Information on Trump Bias,” Bloomberg News, Eleanor Tyler. (March 14, 2018).
- “No, Trump cannot do whatever he wants with the Justice Department,” The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin. (March 11, 2018).
- “Ex-Officials Ask Judge to Review U.S. Moves in AT&T-Time Warner Suit,” The Wall Street Journal, Drew FitzGerald. (March 9, 2018).
- “Former DOJ officials raise concerns about possible Trump interference in AT&T lawsuit,” The Hill, Harper Neidig. (March 9, 2018).
- “Former DOJ officials raise Trump AT&T interference concerns,” NBC News, Heidi Przybyla and Pete Williams. (March 9, 2018).
- “Ex-DOJ Officials worry about political motives in AT&T merger suit,” Axios, David McCabe. (March 9, 2018).
- “Ex-DOJ Officials Warn of Potential Trump Meddling to Punish CNN in AT&T Case,” Talking Points Memo, Allegra Kirkland. (March 9, 2018).
- “Former DOJ officials urge inquiry into whether Trump meddled to block AT&T-Time Warner merger,” Dallas News, Arnessa Garrett. (March 9, 2018).
- “Former DOJ Officials Ask for Inquiry Into Trump Interference in AT&T-Time Warner Case,” Variety, Ted Johnson. (March 9, 2018).
- “Lawsuit seeks White House, Justice Dept records on Fox-Disney Deal,” Reuters. (March 5, 2018).
- “DOJ tells Cortez Masto that Obama-era policy to minimize White House contact is still in place,” The Nevada Independent, Humberto Sanchez. (March 2, 2018).
- “Aping His Boss, Scaramucci Tries To Use DOJ Like A Personal Enforcement Arm,” Talking Points Memo, Allegra Kirkland. (July 28, 2017).
- “White House Leaks: Anthony Scaramucci Would Break Rules If He Spoke to FBI and Sessions About Investigations,” Newsweek, Graham Lanktree. (July 28, 2017 ).
- “Liberal Groups: Delay FBI director vote until Trump promises to keep special counsel,” Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere. (July 25, 2017).
- “Watchdog group wants to know if White House is interfering in decision to block Anthem-Cigna merger,” Washington Post, Carolyn Y. Johnson. (March 24, 2017).
- “Priebus talk with FBI appears to break White House rules,” Politico, Isaac Arnsdorf. (March 17, 2017).