Groups push DOJ to scrutinize Trump's US attorneys

Groups push DOJ to scrutinize Trump's US attorneys
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Criminal justice reform advocates are pushing the Senate Judiciary Committee to more closely scrutinize President Trump’s nominees to be U.S. attorneys.

Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Right on Crime, the R Street Institute and the American Conservative Union in a letter Wednesday asked Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Trump mulling visit to ethanol refinery later this month: report Nursing home care: A growing crisis for an aging America  MORE (R-Iowa) for the second time to have members question nominees, either in writing or via confirmation hearings. The groups want nominees to be asked about their prosecutorial philosophies on key issues, including sentencing, asset forfeiture and respecting the authority of the states.

“In view of the recent policies announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ), it is even more important that the Senate understand each nominee’s views of the proper role government attorneys play in seeking justice rather than merely ‘winning’ the cases they bring,” the groups wrote.


The committee does not hold hearings for those nominated to be U.S. attorneys, but it does require those nominees to fill out a questionnaire, which asks for their job history, a list of published writings and statements, the character of their law practice, the 10 most significant matters they’ve litigated, potential conflicts of interest, and sources of income.

The coalition originally made its request in a letter in March but never received a response.

Since then, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsJeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general House Democrats leave empty chair for McGahn at hearing MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE has asked Congress not to limit the DOJ's ability to prosecute individuals who buy, sell or cultivate medical marijuana in states that have legalized it, ordered federal prosecutors to seek the most severe penalties when prosecuting crimes, and expanded the use of civil asset forfeiture.

“Given the growth in prosecutorial power over the past few decades, and in light of the new policies proposed by the DOJ that will further increase prosecutors’ power, we believe that it is imperative that Congress exercise its oversight responsibility over the DOJ,” the groups wrote in the new letter.

The groups say their goal is not to stall the confirmation process but shine a light on the nominees’ records and philosophy, so they can be held accountable for how they discharge their duties if confirmed.