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DOJ weakens policy on investigating elections: report

DOJ weakens policy on investigating elections: report
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Federal election inspectors will be allowed to take steps to investigate potential election-related criminal offenses even if the public reaction to their investigations could impact the election itself, according to a new memo.

In the directive emailed by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section on Friday and first reported by ProPublica, officials state that an exception now exists to the rule dictating that federal investigators avoid taking action — such as making arrests or conducting searches — that would cause a public reaction and therefore have potential to influence election results.

Investigators will now be able to take such action if "the integrity of any component of the federal government is implicated by election offenses within the scope of the policy including but not limited to misconduct by federal officials or employees administering an aspect of the voting process through the United States Postal Service, the Department of Defense or any other federal department or agency," according to ProPublica.

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The change comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE and other Republicans have hammered advocates of expanding mail-in or absentee voting, which they have argued, without evidence, is rife with widespread fraud.

Former Justice Department officials told ProPublica that the move could be utilized by the agency to "make inflated announcements about mail-in vote fraud and the like in the run-up to the election."

“It’s unusual that they’re carving out this exception,” added the Justice Department's former civil rights division head, Vanita Gupta, in an interview with the news outlet.

“It alarms me that the DOJ would want to authorize more of the same in and around the election,” former Deputy Attorney General Justin Levitt told ProPublica. “It’s incredibly painful for me to say, but given what we’ve seen recently, Americans shouldn’t trust DOJ announcements right now.”

The agency previously faced searing criticism from Democrats around the 2016 election after then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump has list of top intelligence officials he'll fire if he wins reelection: report Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Trump remarks put pressure on Barr MORE decided to reopen an investigation into then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Hillary Clinton tweets 'vote them out' after Senate GOP confirm Barrett CNN: Kayleigh McEnany praised Biden as 'man of the people' in 2015 MORE's private email server, which they believe swung the outcome of that contest in Trump's favor days before voters cast their final ballots.