Following a Justice Department Ethics Investigation, Massachusetts’s US Attorney Rachael Rollins Steps Down

HomeTop StoriesPolitics

Following a Justice Department Ethics Investigation, Massachusetts’s US Attorney Rachael Rollins Steps Down

Rachael Rollins, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, will step down after the Justice Department's inspector general spent months looking into possi

The Celtics Move to the Second Round of the NBA Playoffs: “It’s time to get some rest and get ready for Philly.”
Ford Recalls F-Series Trucks to Address a Driver Side Airbag Issue
Woman Kidnapped and Brutally Raped

Rachael Rollins, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, will step down after the Justice Department’s inspector general spent months looking into possible ethical violations related to her attendance at a political event.

Rollins will be submitting a letter of resignation to President Joe Biden by Friday afternoon, according to an attorney for her, even though the Justice Department’s watchdog has not yet made public the conclusions of its investigation.

An extremely uncommon occurrence, the resignation of a U.S. attorney over ethics concerns is notable in that it comes at a time when the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, has been working to reestablish normalcy and good governance after the tumultuous four years of the Trump administration.

Following the resignation news, a senator who previously criticized Rachael Rollins offers a new statement.

The lawyer for Rollins stated that although she is “profoundly honored” to have held the position of U.S. attorney and proud of the work done by her office, she “understands that her presence has become a distraction.” Former Justice Department inspector general and attorney Michael Bromwich said Rollins would be willing to speak with the media “after the dust settles and she resigns.”

“The work of the office and the Department of Justice is far too important to be overshadowed by anything else,” said Bromwich.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department declined to comment right away. The office of the inspector general declined to comment.

Rollins was a divisive choice to lead Massachusetts’ federal law enforcement agency, and twice Vice President Kamala Harris had to break a tie for her nomination to advance in the Senate against ferocious Republican opposition that portrayed her as a radical.

She held the position of chief prosecutor for Suffolk County, which encompasses Boston, before accepting the high-profile U.S. attorney position. In her capacity there, she fought with the largest police union in Boston and pushed for ambitious changes to the criminal justice system, most notably a rule not to prosecute some low-level crimes like shoplifting.

She was the first Black woman to hold the position of U.S. attorney for Massachusetts as well as the first person of color to hold the position of district attorney in the state.

In a joint statement, Massachusetts Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, who had advocated for Rollins to be nominated for the position, said they would respect her choice to resign.

“Rachael Rollins has for years dedicated herself to the people of Massachusetts and equal justice under the law,” they stated.

The inspector general’s office is looking into Rollins after she attended a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee last year that featured first lady Jill Biden at a residence in Andover, Massachusetts. The Associated Press was the first to report this in November. That was the claim made by two people who had been informed on the investigation but spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to do so.

Investigations into charges of fraud, misuse, or contravention of other Justice Department policies are typically conducted by the inspector general’s office.

The AP was informed at the time by people familiar with the investigation that it had broadened to include Rollins’ use of her personal mobile phone to conduct Justice Department business and a trip to California that was funded by an outside organization.

In a tweet from July, Rollins claimed that she “had approval” to meet the first lady and that she departed the event early to give two community speeches. The AP was informed by a person with knowledge of the pre-event conversations that Rollins had been granted only limited clearance to meet Jill Biden outside the house.

Another federal watchdog organization, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, is also looking into whether Rollins’ participation in the event violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from engaging in political activity. It’s unclear how far along that probe is.

One individual with knowledge of the situation told the AP last year that the inspector general’s office copied the contents of several Rollins office staff members’ phones as part of their investigation into her potential use of her personal phone for Justice Department business.

Investigators also looked into a trip that Rollins took to California that was funded by a third party, despite the fact that Justice Department officials are not permitted to receive travel-related compensation. The trip was for CAA Amplify, an event that one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies, the Creative Artists Agency, hosts annually for leaders in entertainment, industry, and politics.

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a vocal opponent of Rollins and worked to prevent her confirmation, encouraged the inspector general to look into any Hatch Act violations last year.

In a letter earlier this month to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Cotton stated that a “whistleblower” had recently claimed that Rollins had been “removing significant numbers of documents” from the U.S. attorney’s office and had “continued removing these documents even after being instructed to stop by the Department of Justice leadership.”

Rollins’ lawyer referred to the claim as “complete nonsense,” adding that Cotton’s time “would be better spent learning about the realities of running a law enforcement agency and fighting crime in our major cities.”

In a statement released on Tuesday, Cotton said that he had “warned Democratic senators that Rachael Rollins wasn’t only a pro-criminal ideologue, but also had a history of poor judgment and ethical lapses.”