Biden’s legal professional normal choose might want to depoliticize the Justice Division

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Biden’s attorney general pick will need to depoliticize the Justice Department

Anyone who takes on the Attorney General’s role in the Biden administration must lower the political temp in the Justice Department and tackle several high-profile federal investigations – including one involving President-elect Joe Biden’s son. says Jeremy Paul, former Dean of Northeastern’s School of Law.

Biden has Paul promised not to interfere in the Justice Department’s operations. And each of the leading candidates for the top prosecutor seem to stand up for principle and protect the government’s career prosecutors, Paul says. who now teaches constitutional law, property, and jurisdiction.

According to media reports, top candidates for attorney general include Sally Yates, an Obama administration-appointed person who served as acting attorney general in the early days of the Trump administration. Doug Jones, a former Democratic Senator from Alabama; and Merrick Garland, an Obama-nominated Supreme Court judge who never received a confirmation hearing from the Republican-run Senate.

Jeremy Paul, Former Dean of Northeastern Law School and Professor of Constitutional Law, Property and Law. Photo of the northeast file.

All three “would be a good choice from the perspective of depoliticizing the Justice Department,” says Paul. But he believes Jones could be ahead for political reasons. Although he recently lost a re-election bid, “he did better than Democrats usually do in Alabama,” says Paul.

Jones has met many senators on both sides of the political corridor during his tenure in the House of Lords, so the senators who will consider his nomination already know him, Paul says. “If you were to validate, and I suspect you would, it would be a good starting point to validate someone you know,” adds Paul.

Speaking of his friendship with Jones during the Senate Democrat farewell ceremony, Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, appeared to signal that Jones’ civil service career may not be over.

“I think we’ll be hearing more from him in the coming weeks, months,” says Shelby. “I really hope so. He has a lot to give.”

Another advantage Jones has is his longstanding friendship with Biden; The two have known each other for decades. If he gets the nod, it wouldn’t be surprising, Paul says, given some of the other decisions the president-elect made to his inner circle of senior advisors.

Paul also says Jones, a former U.S. attorney, has strong experience prosecuting civil rights cases, highlighted by his persecution of the Klansmen who bombed a church in Birmingham in the 1960s. “From the bombing of the church to a Senate election in Alabama, I’ve fought for these ends because I believe in hope,” Jones said as he left the Senate. “I believe in redemption. I believe in the possibility. “

Yates has more Justice experience than Jones and would be a qualified candidate, says Paul, but she does She may have a more difficult path to becoming attorney general due to her role in the EU 2016 FBI investigation into Russia.

On the left, former US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken meets with an international coalition in Paris on June 2, 2015 to discuss the fight against Daech.  Right, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen listens to introductions as she receives the Paul H. Douglas Prize for Ethics in Government on Capitol Hill in Washington on November 7, 2017.  AP photos by Nicolas Messyasz / Sipa and Jacquelyn Martin

“No,” said the Republican Senator. John Cornyn from Texas when asked if he thought Yates would be confirmed if the GOP got the majority, according to The hill. Cornyn sits on the Judiciary Committee, which reviews candidates for justice.

Paul wonders how much political capital Biden would be willing to fight for them. The elected president himself A former senator will only have so many fights with the Senate, Paul explains. “Is that one he wants?”

One of the first matters a new attorney general might face is an investigation by Biden’s son Hunter into his taxes. The US law firm in Delaware is leading the investigation. It opened in late 2018 and, according to New York, has contained investigations into possible criminal violations of tax and money laundering laws Timesciting people close to the matter.

“I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will show that I have handled my affairs legally and appropriately, with the benefit of professional accountants,” the younger Biden said in a statement to several news outlets. Trump is considering appointing a special prosecutor Associated PressThis would ensure that the probe continues in the Biden administration.

Paul says such a move could be warranted if law enforcement officials find significant evidence to move forward. “But if this is all trump card, no pun intended, then I think the appointment of a special lawyer would be really inappropriate.”

Another important task waiting for the new aAttorney General is investigating the origins of alleged Trump-Russia collusion – led by a special adviser, John Durham, the US attorney in Hartford, Connecticut. The case opened after another special adviser, Robert Mueller, completed his yearlong investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked with Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller ultimately didn’t find enough evidence to indict Trump or any of his close associates.

Paul previously served as Dean of the University of Connecticut Law School, where Durham was an active and highly regarded alumnus. “So I know him and have always had a lot of respect for him,” says Paul.

An FBI attorney pleaded guilty as the case continues. Paul says it’s a good sign that despite Trump’s predictions that the investigation would be completed by election day, prosecutors failed to meet that deadline. “The more research Durham does, the less he’ll find,” predicts Paul.

The Northeastern professor says people need to understand that the attorney general in any administration does not work directly for a president, not even as a political officer, but for the American people under the aegis of the constitution.

“What we want is an attorney general who can show what it means to have an independent Justice Department,” says Paul.

Paul said Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, tried to create a pictorial wall out of political pressures from the White House by pulling out of the Russian election meddling investigation led by special attorney Robert Mueller.

“Trump pissed off sessions for it,” says Paul.

Trump later fired Sessions and replaced him with William Barr, who himself is stepping down before Christmas after numerous legal attempts to uncover election fraud went empty.

An attorney general can send a strong message by stepping down in the face of political pressure, Paul says. Elliot Richardson did so in 1973 after President Richard Nixon ordered him to fire the special attorney on the Watergate burglary case that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation.

“When a president, a president, gets too involved, resignation is the attorney general’s most powerful tool,” says Paul. “That hurt Nixon a lot and that would hurt any president very much.”

For media inquiriesPlease contact media@northeastern.edu.

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