The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued new guidance, banning its employees from participating in partisan political events.
Previous DOJ guidance barred career employees from attending political events, while allowing non-career employees to participate. The new directive from Attorney General Merrick Garland supplants previous DOJ guidance and bars all Department employees from attending such events, public or private.
“As Department employees, we have been entrusted with the authority and responsibility to enforce the laws of the United States in a neutral and impartial manner,” Garland wrote in a memorandum. “In fulfilling this responsibility, we must do all we can to maintain public trust and ensure that politics — both in fact and appearance — does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work.”
Both the FBI and DOJ have faced mounting public scrutiny, along with rekindled allegations of impropriety and political gamesmanship amid the raid on former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida home.
Shortly after the FBI carted out 11 boxes of material from Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s attorneys filed a lawsuit characterizing the federal officials who conducted the search as weapons being used for political purposes.
Garland’s announcement also comes on the back of an FBI agent being escorted out of the Bureau’s headquarters, following accusations of acting with unprofessional political bias in his handling of a case related to President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
The DOJ’s updated policy impacts Department employees who may want to support family members running for office and constrains approved activities on the day of an election.
“In the past, when the Department has further limited attendance at partisan political events during Presidential election years, it has allowed an exception for non-career appointees who had close family members who were running for partisan offices, or similar situations. The new policy permits no exceptions,” Garland wrote.
“Prior Department policy has allowed non-career employees to passively attend campaign events and other partisan political events in their personal capacities on the evening of Election Day,” he said. “Under the new policy, non-career appointees may not attend partisan political events, even on the evening of Election Day.”