Sunday, 22 April, 2018

Justice Department's third-in-command Rachel Brand is leaving: NY Times

Rachel Brand, No. 3 official at DOJ, is stepping down Justice Department's third-highest ranking official resigns
Mandy Jefferson | 10 February, 2018, 05:27

Sessions praised Brand in a statement, saying she had "shown real leadership over many important divisions at the department". I want to thank Attorney General Sessions for his leadership over this Department. And she had been vocal about the department's efforts to support students who say their free speech rights are being violated on college campuses.

Brand was next in line of succession to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the ongoing probe.

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

Brand was in position to inherit oversight of the Mueller probe if the department's number two, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is forced out. 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.

News of Brand's departure comes a week after Trump approved the release of a previously classified memo written by Republican lawmakers that portrayed the Russian Federation investigation, initially handled by the FBI and now headed by Mueller, as a product of political bias against Trump at the FBI and Justice Department. That job would now fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco.

Last week, with Trump serving up new rebukes of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to the release of a classified Republican memo alleging abuses of government surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide, Sessions singled out Brand at a Justice conference.

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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.

Brand, a Harvard Law School graduate who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, is a conservative who first served in the department under President George W. Bush.

A source familiar with Brand's plans said she is going to accept a job with Walmart.

"She made this (re-authorization) her top priority and combined her expertise and gravitas to help pass legislation keeping this crucial national security tool", Sessions said.

'It really seems to have her name on it'. Brand, the No. 3 official in the DOJ, will be leaving following a nine-month tenure in the role.

Rosenstein oversees Mueller's investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the matter previous year.

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