No. 3 Official at the Justice Department Is Stepping Down

Saul Bowman
February 10, 2018

After just nine months as the third-ranking official at the Justice Department, Rachel Brand resigned Friday to take a job at Walmart, the New York Times reports.

In a statement, Brand said she is proud of the department's accomplishments during her short time there.

Brand, who became Associate Attorney General in May, has kept a relatively low profile and, unlike other top officials, has not been personally targeted by Trump.

Trump could use a 1998 law on executive branch vacancies to appoint a temporary replacement of his choice, as long as that person was an experienced Justice Department employee or another administration official already confirmed by the Senate.

"I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country", Trump said last week when he was asked about the release of a memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee claiming abuses in the Russian Federation investigation. And questions over whether Trump would fire Rosenstein intensified last week when a memo, spearheaded by GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, was publicly released.

A Justice Department spokesman declined comment.

After just nine months on the job, Brand had become more and more uneasy with Trump's escalating attacks on the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which she and other law enforcement professionals feared was beginning to undermine the rule of law, according to sources familiar with her thinking. "She will always remain part of the Department of Justice family". "She has played a critical role in helping us accomplish our goals as a department-taking on human trafficking, protecting free speech on campus, and fighting sexual harassment in public housing", Attorney General Jeff Sessions says in a statement.

Rosenstein oversees Mueller's investigation because Sessions recused himself from the matter past year.

Trump's broadsides have strained morale at the institution, which has always been praised for its independence from the White House.

The associate attorney general had been an advocate for the reauthorizing of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The measure passed, and Trump signed it into law in January. She was previously President George W. Bush's assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy, which develops and implements the department's significant policy initiatives.

She helped lead the department's effort to extend a law that authorizes the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program.

Brand has one of the department's more politically challenging jobs, managing the lawyers who litigate civil issues, including Trump's travel ban as well as civil rights, environmental and antitrust cases.

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