Despite Republicans controlling both Congress and the office of the president, pursuing a conservative agenda is too much to handle for some government officials still present in their positions after being appointed by Obama and past administrations.
In the Department of Justice, which has taken a drastic turn away from prior president Barack Obama’s policies under Attorney General Jeff Session’s leadership, holdover officials are reportedly struggling to perform their duties, at least when those duties involve dismantling the previous administration’s liberal agenda.
The New York Times reports that some DOJ officials who were holdovers from past administrations have chosen to resign their posts rather than helping President Trump further his agenda.
“Yet the new direction has also met some resistance among rank-and-file civil servants. Within the Justice Department, several long-serving lawyers have decided to retire or quit rather than help carry out the new policies,” the New York Times reports. Apparently, these DOJ holdovers are particularly irked over the idea of punishing sanctuary cities for ignoring federal immigration laws, an issue that has been a focus of Jeff Sessions.
While turnover is natural after an election, some of these departing lawyers worked at the department through previous Republican administrations — under Ronald Reagan and both Bushes — and they have privately told colleagues that recent changes twist the law in directions that make them uncomfortable.
For example, a debate arose over immigration in recent weeks, when high-ranking Justice Department officials explored whether they could apply a law commonly used to prosecute businesses to instead punish so-called sanctuary cities, according to several former officials briefed on the issue.
Mr. Trump has roundly criticized these cities, which limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, and he has threatened to withhold federal funding to them. Some of the department’s veteran lawyers opposed the more aggressive options as not legally justifiable.
However, the drastic change in the DOJ’s agenda should come as no surprise to holdovers from the Obama administration, as during last year’s election President Trump clearly outlined a plan to crack down on illegal immigration as well as the cities that harbor illegal aliens. Ironically, some of these holdover lawyers were faced with the task of undoing their own work that they performed in pursuit of Obama’s open borders agenda.
“Some of these lawyers also faced the unpalatable task of undoing their work defending Obama-era regulations, such as those on birth control and transgender rights. Rather than help roll back those rules, the officials decided to leave the government.”
While the fact that more Obama holdovers and government officials who despise Trump’s “America First” agenda are vacating their posts is good news for conservatives, some DOJ lawyers have decided to linger in their positions out of fear, worrying that supporters of Trump’s agenda will assume their place if they leave.
Ms. McGowan, the only former career official who agreed to comment for this article, noted that some of her former colleagues are staying despite concerns.
“Some are absolutely staying because they feel like they’re afraid of who’d get put in their seat if they left,” said Ms. McGowan, who now works at Lambda Legal, an advocacy organization focused on L.G.B.T. rights.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, while a White House spokesman said that the president “is proud to promote a conservative agenda that has been far too long ignored by the Obama administration.”
Although a portion of the swamp appears to be draining itself, Jeff Sessions previously fired 46 DOJ lawyers in March, each one of them appointed under the Obama administration. Despite these departures, I suspect that Obama holdovers still occupy a vast number of high-level government positions in various departments, some of which are actively working to undermine Trump’s agenda and by extension the will of the American voters in any way they can.