A Justice Department memo signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland extended a Trump-era policy restricting investigations of candidates in an election year, The Washington Examiner reports.
The memo, first revealed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, was signed by Garland in May.
The document, titled “Election Year Sensitivities,” warns to avoid “partisan politics” in decisions regarding investigations and criminal charges.
It also urges DOJ staff to protect the agency’s reputation for “fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship.”
The memo came as Garland faced calls to prosecute Trump, a likely 2024 candidate, over his role in the January 6 Capitol riot.
"If the AG is going to follow the evidence where it leads, then — we've already seen evidence leading to the former president,” Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Adam Schiff said last week.
Garland’s memo cited a previous directive from Trump Attorney General Bill Barr.
"Department employees must also adhere to the additional requirements issued by the Attorney General on February 5, 2020, governing the opening of criminal and counterintelligence investigations by the Department, including its law enforcement agencies, related to politically sensitive individuals and entities," the document says.
National security attorney Brad Moss cautioned not to overreact to the memo.
“I know folks are up in arms over the @maddow scoop but chill,” he tweeted. “The Barr memo did nothing but require higher level approval to start investigations. The Garland memo just incorporated that and reminded personnel of that as the election nears. Neither memo prevents an indictment.”
“You can find similar memoranda from Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder,” he added.