Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins to resign following Justice Department surveillance investigation

Boston (Associated Press) — Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins His lawyer announced Tuesday that he was stepping down following a months-long investigation by the Justice Department inspector general into his appearance at a political fundraiser and other potential ethical issues.

The Justice Department’s oversight agency has not yet released a report detailing the findings of the investigation, but Rollins’ lawyers told The Associated Press that Rollins will submit his resignation to President Joe Biden by the close of business on Friday. said he plans to.

U.S. lawyers resigning over ethical concerns is an extremely rare phenomenon that has sought to restore normalcy and good governance under Attorney General Merrick Garland after four tumultuous years in the Trump administration. Of particular note for the Department of Justice.

Ms. Rollins’ attorney said she was “extremely honored” to serve as a U.S. attorney and was proud of her work at the firm, but said, “Her presence is a distraction. I understand,” he said. Lawyer Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, said Rollins will answer her questions “after things settle down and he resigns.”

“The Justice Department and its work are too important to overshadow other things,” Bromwich said.

The Justice Department did not immediately comment on Tuesday. The inspector general’s office declined to comment.

Rollins is a controversial figure who was tapped to become the top federal law enforcement officer in Massachusetts, and Vice President Kamala Harris could not advance her nomination to the Senate amid fierce opposition from Republicans who portrayed her as a radical. needed to break a draw twice.

Prior to her career as a prominent US attorney, she was the top prosecutor in Suffolk County, including Boston. In her role there, she sparred with Boston’s largest police union and pushed for ambitious criminal justice reforms, particularly a policy of not prosecuting certain low-level crimes such as shoplifting.

She was the first woman of color to serve as a Massachusetts district attorney and the first black woman to become a U.S. attorney. for the nation.

Massachusetts Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, who have pushed for Rollins’ nomination for the post, said in a joint statement that they respect Rollins’ decision to step down.

“Rachel Rollins has long dedicated herself to the people of Massachusetts and equal justice under the law,” they said.

The Associated Press first reported in November The inspector general’s office said it had opened an investigation into Rollins’ attendance at his home in Andover, Massachusetts, last year for a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee featuring First Lady Jill Biden. Two people briefed on the investigation said they spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

The Office of the Inspector General usually investigates allegations of fraud, abuse, or other violations of Department of Justice policy.

People familiar with the investigation said at the time that the investigation had expanded to other areas, including Rollins’ use of a personal cell phone to carry out Justice Department business and the costs of outside parties being paid. He said the investigation had expanded to other areas, including travel to California.

In a tweet in July, Ms. Rollins said she had “agreed consent” to meet with the First Lady and left the event early to speak at two regional events. A source familiar with the pre-event discussions told The Associated Press that Rollins had limited permission to meet with Jill Biden outside her home.

Another federal oversight agency, the U.S. Special Counsel’s Office, is also investigating. Whether Mr. Rollins’ attendance at the fundraiser violates the Hatch Act, a law restricting political activity of government employees. The status of that investigation is unknown.

As part of an investigation into the possible use of Rollins’ private phone for Justice Department business, the Office of the Inspector General copied phone calls from some employees in Rollins’ office, according to people familiar with the matter. told the Associated Press last year.

Investigators also investigated Rollins’ trip to California paid for by an outside entity, even though Justice Department officials are not supposed to receive travel payments. The trip was for CAA Amplify, an annual gathering of entertainment, business and political luminaries run by Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s leading talent agencies.

Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who has been a vocal critic of Rollins’ attempts to block his confirmation, last year called on the Inspector General to investigate whether U.S. prosecutors’ actions violated the Hatch Act.

In a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz earlier this month, Cotton wrote that Rollins had “taken a substantial number of documents” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and that he “did not maintain these documents even after being instructed by the Office to suspend them.” kept bringing up,” a “whistleblower” recently claimed. Department of Justice leadership. ”

Rollins’ attorney called the allegations “absolute nonsense” and said Cotton would be better off “studying the realities of running law enforcement and fighting crime in a major city.” added.

“I warned Democratic senators that Rachel Rollins is not only a pro-crime ideologue, but has a history of poor judgment and ethical errors,” Cotton said in a statement Tuesday.


Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press reporter Steve LeBlanc of Boston and Lindsay Whitehurst of Washington contributed.


The article was corrected as Ms. Rollins was not the first black woman to serve as a U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, but rather a black woman.

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