Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued a memo to Justice Department personnel reiterating the department’s policy of prohibiting communication with members of Congress.
Garland said all communication with Congress must be handled by the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA). Per DOJ policy, “no department employee may communicate with Senators, Representatives, congressional committees, or congressional staff without advance coordination, consultation, and approval by OLA.”
“All congressional inquiries and correspondence from Members, committees, and staff should be immediately directed to OLA upon receipt,” says Justice Manual 1-8.000.
Garland said these policies were designed to protect the DOJ’s “criminal and civil law enforcement decisions, and its legal judgments, from partisan or other inappropriate influences, whether real or perceived, direct or indict.”
They are also designed, Garland said, “to ensure that Congress may carry out its legislative investigatory and oversight functions.”
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Garland insisted that such policies were not “intended to conflict with or limit whistleblower protections.”
The memorandum comes on the heels of a tumultuous few months for the DOJ and the FBI. Over the weekend, Tim Thibault, an assistant special agent-in-charge in the District of Columbia, retired amid allegations that he supposedly ran interference in the investigation into Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Thibault’s lawyers have denied these allegations, saying their client welcomes any investigation regardless of his retirement.
“He firmly believes that any investigation will conclude that his supervision, leadership and decision making were not impacted by political bias or partisanship of any kind,” Thibault’s counsel said on his behalf. “He is confident that all of his decisions were consistent with the FBI’s highest standards for ethics and integrity.”
Thibault’s departure came a day after Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed on “The Joe Rogan Experience” that the FBI approached Facebook warning the platform about “Russian propaganda” ahead of the bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Before Thibault’s retirement, whistleblowers within the FBI had reported to Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, political bias from high-levels within the bureau.
In an Aug. 17 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the Iowa Republican demanded an accounting for alleged political bias influencing high-level investigations, particularly out of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., office.
Grassley claimed that the FBI approved investigative activity into the Trump campaign with questionable predication while also choosing to “shut down investigative activity and sources, which included verified and verifiable information, relating to Hunter Biden.”
Former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
The DOJ, meanwhile, has faced criticism for what many regarded as its opaque reasoning in authorizing the FBI raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate earlier this month.
Weeks later, the DOJ released a heavily redacted search warrant affidavit, arguing that it was necessary to protect the integrity of the case.
Fox News has reached out to the DOJ and Sen. Grassley’s office for comment.