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Rachel Brand, No. 3 official at DOJ, is stepping down

10 February, 2018, 04:36 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand speaks during the opening of the summit on Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking on Feb. 2 at the Justice Department

Brand was also a high-ranking official in the department under George W. Bush.

Her apparent upcoming departure could potentially change the course of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian tampering and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. "I've seen firsthand his commitment to the rule of law and to keeping the American people safe". That process would be certain to raise questions from lawmakers about the nominee's willingness to remain independent from the Trump administration once in office, including the ability to withstand any pressure to dismiss the special counsel if asked to do so by the White House.

Scrutiny of Rosenstein from conservatives allied with Trump escalated last week after a Republican memo authored by House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., detailed how Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials including Rosenstein authorized surveillance on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, who had contact with Russians.

The third-ranking official at the US Justice Department is resigning just nine months after taking the powerful position at the agency that President Donald Trump has been criticizing sharply.

Last week, Brand headed up an all-day summit on human trafficking at the Justice Department where she told a packed room that "combatting this evil is one of our top priorities at the Justice Department".

In 2012 president Barack Obama appointed her to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which reviewed the legality of the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency, especially its data collection on U.S. citizens, which Brand defended.

Trump, who has openly lamented his inability to influence Justice Department decisions, has stepped up his criticism in recent weeks, fueled by the release of a politically charged memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance powers in the Russian Federation investigation.

Brand has kept a very low profile at the department, but in December she wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post defending the renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which permits the National Security Agency to collect foreign intelligence on US soil without individualized warrants. I want to thank Attorney General Sessions for his leadership over this Department.




News of Brand's departure was first reported by The New York Times.

A source familiar with Brand's plans said she is going to accept a job with Walmart.

In her current capacity, she oversaw a number of politically challenging areas of the department, including the civil rights, antitrust and civil divisions.

"She felt this was an opportunity she couldn't turn down", Gorelick said.

She was the Justice Department's third in command.

"It really seems to have her name on it", Gorelick said.

With Brand gone, Sessions can designate someone else to step in as the No. 3 official, such as an assistant attorney general or the solicitor general.

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