Since President Donald Trump took office, the Justice Department has been under attack as he questioned whether its lawyers and investigators were loyalists who supported his agenda or traitors who should be rooted out and fired. DOJ’s former and current employees hope that President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for attorney general will shield the agency from partisan battles and political concerns. More than 40 employees told the New York Times they wanted an AG who would stand up for employees and protect them from undue political influence, something that they say Trump’s attorneys general have largely been unable or unwilling to do.
They said restoring DOJ’s independence from the White House, repairing morale and engaging racial justice advocates and law enforcement officials on matters of race and criminal justice were the biggest issues facing the incoming leader. More than a dozen people said they hoped Biden would nominate former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who Trump fired for refusing to defend his order banning entry to the U.S. for those from Muslim-majority countries. The current and former employees said they believed Yates would be ready from the get-go to tackle national security threats and would be able to revitalize racial justice work that had languished during the Trump administration. Two people made cases for Sen. Doug Jones (D-Al), a former U.S. Attorney. Only one favored appeals court judge Merrick Garland, citing his reputation for fairness. Some people interviewed said that the incoming attorney general should have deep national security experience and expertise in both domestic terrorism issues and challenges from foreign adversaries like China and Iran.