Attorney General Merrick Garland sent all Justice Department employees a memo on Tuesday reminding them of the agency’s policies regarding communications with Congress.
What does the memo say?
Garland, referring to the DOJ employee manual, instructed all Justice Department employees that any communication with Congress must go through the department’s Office of Legislative Affairs.
The manual reads:
Except as provided in this chapter, 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.
Garland instructed employees that such policies are meant to protect the integrity of DOJ investigations.
Quoting the manual, Garland added that the policy is not “intended to conflict with or limit whistleblower protections,” which are provided under federal law.
Social media users quickly speculated the memo is a covert message to potential Justice Department whistleblowers who want to divulge behind-the-scenes information to members of Congress.
Importantly, Garland did not mention the importance of not leaking information to the media.
As has been observed, leaks have driven the media narrative of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.
What about whistleblowers?
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have repeatedly brought forward information they say whistleblowers revealed to them.
For instance, Grassley said last month that multiple FBI whistleblowers disclosed information to him indicating a partisan tilt in the Hunter Biden investigation.
Meanwhile, Jordan said two weeks ago that 14 FBI whistleblowers have come forward to his office, providing him with details about allegedly partisan dealings at the highest levels of the Justice Department.
“Fourteen FBI agents have come to our office as whistleblowers, and they are good people,” Jordan said on Fox News. “There are lots of good people in the FBI. It’s the top that is the problem. Some of these good agents are coming to us, telling us what is baloney, what’s going on — the political nature now of the Justice Department — God bless them for doing it.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) responded to Garland’s memo by reiterating whistleblower protections.
“DOJ employees, take notice: No matter what this memo says, you are protected by federal law if you contact my office to blow the whistle on the improper politicization of the Department of Justice by Merrick Garland and Joe Biden,” Cotton said.