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Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a pair of memos on Tuesday banning political appointees from partisan events and other political activity.
The Department of Justice has come under intense scrutiny for its involvement in media suppression in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, and the recent Mar-a-Lago raid. The two memos crack down on DOJ appointee behavior in an apparent attempt to clean up the institution’s public image and regain trust.
The new guidance tightens previously existing restrictions and eliminates exceptions previously afforded to certain DOJ employees.
“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. 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,” Garland wrote in one of the memos.
Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers a statement at the Department of Justice, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Many of the closed exceptions to rules are targeted at non-career employees of the DOJ – political appointees named to their position by the president’s administration.
“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,” the memo states.
Additional crackdowns on political involvement include an end to employees’ attendance of campaign or political events outside of work on Election Day.
“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,” the memo reads. “Under the new policy, non-career appointees may not attend partisan political events, even on the evening of Election Day.”
Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C. (Reuters/Gary Cameron)
Garland ended the memo with a brief address to the entire department, saying, “I know you agree it is critical that we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards to avoid even the appearance of political influence as we carry out the Department’s mission. It is in that spirit that I have added these new restrictions on political activities by non-career employees.”
A second Garland memo released Tuesday highlights over a dozen rules for conduct by DOJ employees, including wearing political pins, solicitation of political contributions and distribution of fliers.
The second on the list of high-priority regulations states that department employees may not “use their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.”
Election tampering has topped the list of accusations against the DOJ in recent weeks – now inflamed by allegations from whistleblowers speaking with Republican lawmakers.
Sen. Ron Johnson takes his seat for a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing, Feb. 16, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
FBI officials told agents not to investigate Hunter Biden’s so-called “laptop from hell” for months due to concerns about influencing the 2020 presidential election, whistleblowers told Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
According to Johnson, “individuals with knowledge” of the Hunter Biden case told his office that the investigation was intentionally slowed on orders from “local FBI leadership.”
“While I understand your hesitation to investigate a matter that may be related to an ongoing investigation, it is clear to me based on numerous credible whistleblower disclosures that the FBI cannot be trusted with the handling of Hunter Biden’s laptop,” Johnson claimed in a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]