President Donald Trump has regularly said that he is deeply unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but it sounds like many career lawyers at the Department of Justice aren’t much happier.
The New York Times reports that Sessions and other Trump appointees have regularly “ignored the legal advice of career lawyers in implementing their agenda,” which has sent morale in the department plummeting.
In one incident, the Times reports, Sessions asked DOJ attorney Stephen Buckingham to write a legal justification for a DOJ crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to assist federal officials in enforcing immigration laws.
Buckingham wrote an analysis that argued the DOJ had no legal basis to go after such cities — but Sessions urged him to rewrite the memo and reach a different conclusion. Buckingham eventually resigned months later.
In another instance, the Times reports that Sessions stripped protections from transgender people under the Civil Rights Act without consulting a single expert from the DOJ’s civil rights appellate division.
All of this has taken a major toll on DOJ morale, as the department has seen a massive exodus of high-level talent in recent months, while attorneys who remain fear being singled out for retribution for being dissenters, the Times reports.