(PresidentialHill.com)- A government watchdog focused on ethics is accusing the Department of Justice of “hiding” vital information from the public.
In a lawsuit filed recently, the watchdog called Protect the Public’s Trust says they filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act with the Justice Management Division of the DOJ back in June of 2021. The DOJ still hasn’t responded about whether it intends to comply with the organization’s request, though.
Referring to various public documents and media reports, Protect the Public’s Trust said in a press release:
“[The Biden administration] has filled some of the highest ranks of DOJ with officials who have been criticized for possible bias or potential conflicts of interest in high-profile cases.”
Some of these cases include the probe by Special Counsel John Durham into the alleged collusion between Russia and former President Donald Trump — which was ultimately refuted — as well as a criminal investigation into whether the President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, surrounding financial crimes on the federal level.
The PPT said in its release:
“The President appointed Nicholas McQuaid as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division. Just prior to the Administration taking power, a former colleague of McQuaid, with whom McQuaid jointly represented at least one client, was hired by Hunter Biden, who is reportedly ‘under investigation for possible tax and money laundering activities, with a potential counterintelligence component.'”
In addition, Susan Hennessee was named the general counsel of the National Security Division of the DOJ, despite her previously saying that Durham’s investigation was “partisan silliness.”
That’s cause for concern for the PPT, which asked:
“Have these officials been granted waivers to participate in these matters, which would likely fall into their portfolios? Over a year ago, PPT submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to DOJ seeking ethics waivers and documents that could help shed light on whether these officials were given the green light to participate in these matters.
“By its refusal to properly respond to this FOIA request, as required by law, DOJ is hiding this information from the American public.”
The PPT is also claiming that three additional appointees to the DOJ said formally that they got waivers so they could participate in a matter where they might have a conflict of interest. In fact, the watchdog says the three appointees — Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, Rachael Rollins and Jonathan Kanter — all made those official declaration on ethics certificates they had to fill out.
Yet, the DOJ hasn’t yet released any of those waivers, despite PPT’s request for them to do so.
Michael Chamberlain, the director of the PPT, commented on this when he said:
“During Transparency Week, Attorney General Merrick Garland made a strong case for the importance of FOIA in ‘ensuring transparency, accessibility, and accountability in government. But even where serious concerns about bias, impartiality and conflicts of interest in his own agency could be alleviated with a little transparency, Protect the Public’s Trust has run into a stonewall. It’s little wonder trust in the government continues to decline.”