OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FROM IMPRIMUS, AUGUST 2022, VOL.51, #5)
Harmeet K. Dhillon, Dhillon Law Group, Inc.
seal of the U.S. Department of Justice reads, “Qui Pro Domina
Justitia Sequitur”—“Who prosecutes for Lady Justice.”
Depictions of Lady Justice are as familiar as they are instructive:
she stands blindfolded while holding the scales of justice,
representing her unyielding devotion to equal justice under the law.
Contrary to this ideal, the DOJ today appears to be increasingly
motivated by partisanship. Compounding the problem, it has access to
the powers of the modern surveillance state. As someone passionate
about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I believe there is no
higher priority than addressing this danger.
tragic events of 9/11 marked a turning point in our nation’s recent
civil rights history. First the terrorists attacked us—and then, in
the name of national security, we began to attack ourselves. It has
become almost cliché to say that we live in a surveillance state,
but we do. Ever since Congress, on a fully bipartisan basis, enacted
the Patriot Act six weeks after the attacks on 9/11, the ever-present
eye of the government has been searching for new and creative ways to
spy on American citizens. The government has the technology to
monitor all of our electronic devices, listen to our phone calls, and
read our emails and text messages—all under the auspices of
special law designed for an emergency has become a permanent addition
to the government’s investigatory toolbox. The unfortunate reality
is that the bulk of the actions taken by law enforcement under the
Patriot Act have almost nothing to do with combating terrorism.
Once-rare applications for surveillance warrants to the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court have multiplied many times in
relative peacetime. Most of the spying conducted under the Patriot
Act is for run-of-the-mill crimes that we’ve long expected law
enforcement to address without special surveillance authority.
it is bad enough to have a politically-neutral surveillance state
controlled by the national security crowd and their DOJ cousins. But
take that panopticon and put it in the hands of an executive branch
willing to weaponize its reams of information against its perceived
political enemies, and we’ve got a frightening problem on our
such as the Patriot Act were designed to fight the unique problem of
terrorism. But they quickly morphed into a mechanism by which the
government keeps constant tabs on law-abiding Americans and threatens
to disrupt their lives if they dare act contrary to those in power.
And it’s within this world of omnipotent oversight and control that
the U.S. Department of Justice now operates. They have all the tools
of the surveillance state at their disposal, and the only thing
standing in their way is an independent judiciary willing to enforce
our constitutional rights. But we all saw how easy it is to spy on
Americans—with virtually no judicial oversight—from the
disgraceful episodes of broad surveillance applications, on flimsy
and sometimes falsified pretexts, against citizens such as Carter
me discuss three recent examples that illustrate the threats we face
from a politicized DOJ: the DOJ raid on Project Veritas journalists,
the DOJ raid on Mar-a-Lago, and the DOJ’s efforts to undermine
election integrity and chill free speech.
July 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo forbidding
federal prosecutors from seizing journalists’ records. He did this
with much fanfare, hauteur, and virtue signaling. But even as Mr.
Garland was decrying the seizure of journalists’ records as a
“wrong” his department would “not let . . . happen,” the DOJ
was in the midst of a year-long campaign of spying on Project
Veritas—a campaign that involved no fewer than 19 clandestine
subpoenas, orders, and warrants obtained from nine magistrate judges.
The secrecy of this spying campaign was maintained through the use of
wide-ranging gag orders, including at least two that were obtained
without notice to the judge overseeing the Project Veritas case.
Through this spying campaign, we now know that the DOJ obtained
approximately 200,000 Project Veritas emails from Microsoft and
countless text messages (and heaven knows what else) from Apple,
Google, Uber, and other still unknown companies.
six months after Mr. Garland’s memo was issued, the DOJ raided the
homes of three Project Veritas journalists, seizing 47 electronic
devices. And how did the world learn about this? Conveniently,
someone leaked information about the raids to The New York
Times—which Project Veritas happens to be suing. Indeed, The
New York Times called Project Veritas for comment as the
raids were still in progress.
was the pretext for the raids? In the fall of 2020, confidential
sources had approached Project Veritas journalists with a diary and
other materials supposedly belonging to Ashley Biden, the President’s
daughter. The sources said that the materials had been in their
possession prior to contacting Project Veritas. The Project Veritas
journalists proceeded to investigate whether the materials were
authentic and whether the allegations they contained against Joe
Biden were true. Ultimately, Project Veritas decided it could not
sufficiently verify the allegations and that it would not publish the
diary’s contents. It then turned the items over to local law
enforcement in Florida.
DOJ claims that Ashley Biden’s belongings were stolen. Project
Veritas was told they weren’t, but even this is legally irrelevant.
In the 2001 case Bartnicki v. Vopper, the U.S. Supreme
Court held unequivocally that as long as journalists did not commit
an alleged theft themselves, they were entitled to receive,
investigate, and publish (or not publish) supposedly stolen
materials. In the more recent case DNC v. Russian Federation,
a federal court made it clear that the reporter could even ask for
the stolen materials. This is not a crime—it’s called
the DOJ’s treatment of Project Veritas to the DOJ’s inaction
earlier this year when a Politico reporter was given
a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
The Politico reporter behaved precisely with this
purloined document as the Project Veritas reporters had behaved with
the diary, except that the Politico reporter did
decide to publish the draft opinion. The different reactions on the
part of the DOJ seemed to hinge entirely on whose ox was being gored.
to repeat, the Garland Justice Department was rifling through the
emails and phone messages of Project Veritas journalists before
Project Veritas even knew of Ashley Biden’s diary. These documents
contain donor information, source communications—including
communications from whistleblowers within the federal government—and
attorney-client communications. In its actions, the DOJ was not only
ignoring court decisions and its own policies, it was violating the
Privacy Protection Act, the common law Reporter’s Privilege, and
the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.
Project Veritas matter is ongoing. Thanks to the DOJ’s leaks to The
New York Times, which themselves violate federal law, Judge
Analisa Torres overruled the DOJ’s objections and ordered the
appointment of a special master to review the seized materials for
various privileges. It’s a hollow victory, because Project Veritas
has to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, so to
speak, of being able to protect its own privileged documents.
I have represented and continue to represent President Trump in
several matters, I do not represent him on the matter of the DOJ’s
raid on his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. But that raid is significant
and worth some attention.
first the raid’s timing. President Biden’s approval ratings have
been abysmal, and it is a mid-term election year. Bloomberg reports
that the DOJ will likely delay “charging” Trump with anything
arising from the raid on his home until after the mid-terms. The
effect of this is to create a cloud of perceived guilt running up to
November 8, and use that as a political tool to smear pro-Trump
voters and candidates. The DOJ hides behind its longstanding policy
of not taking politically portentous actions close to an election—but
how could the raid itself be construed as anything but such a
Trump and his lawyers were engaged in a cooperative dialogue with
both the DOJ and National Archives representatives on the issue of
storing and archiving confidential documents. He went as far as to
invite the DOJ to survey the documents he had on his property, and
the DOJ seemed to have expressed little urgency in pursuing the
latest episode of G-men gone wild is not all that different from the
FBI strategy before and after Trump’s election in 2016, when the
FBI was weaponized to investigate claims of Russian collusion that
ultimately proved to have been made up by Democrat operatives. But
more importantly, the raid raises serious constitutional objections.
Fourth Amendment provides that the “right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no
Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched,
and the persons or things to be seized.”
American Founders were intensely concerned about government
intrusion. Breaking into the homes of political opponents and
depriving them of their possessions was common practice under the
rule of the British king in colonial America. The use of general
warrants and writs of assistance by the Crown was the ultimate
interference with the colonists’ right to political and personal
autonomy. Such invasions were so pervasive, and so universally
despised, that the Founders saw fit to ensure that the Constitution
expressly forbids such practices.
over 180 years after the Founding, the Supreme Court applied the
Fourth Amendment’s protections largely to places and things.
Unsurprisingly, this meant that dwellings were given a heightened
sense of protection against government intrusion. The Supreme Court
has reiterated, in the 1980 case Payton v. New York, that
“the physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the
wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.”
addition to where and what receives
Fourth Amendment protection is the question of how the
government can conduct searches and seizures without offending the
Constitution. Searches are only permitted if they are “reasonable,”
and a search is generally considered “reasonable” only when the
government first obtains a properly issued warrant. “Properly
issued” means the warrant must describe with specificity the places
to be searched and the things to be seized, must be supported by
probable cause, and must be issued by a “neutral and detached
magistrate.” Taken together, this is colloquially known as the
“warrant requirement”—and it is central to any honest analysis
of the Mar-a-Lago raid.
its core, the problem with the FBI’s search of President Trump’s
home is its inconsistency with the letter and the spirit of the
Fourth Amendment. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the
probable-cause affidavit used by the FBI to obtain the warrant
prevents the public from judging whether the government had a valid
reason for this unprecedented search. Even more, the list of places
to be searched and things to be seized contained in the warrant
application comprised a blanket sweep of the former president’s
entire private residence and offices, targeting “any evidence”
supporting a potential violation of a handful of federal statutes
that are the usual suspects when it comes to politicized
this alone doesn’t make the warrant defective, the Justice
Department’s “just trust us” approach to support the raid makes
it nearly impossible to determine the legitimacy of the government’s
unprecedented actions. This leaves us no choice but to speculate. And
based on the information publicly available, the DOJ’s actions have
all the trappings and appearances of a vindictive and
politically-motivated fishing expedition.
in the Project Veritas case, the judge in the Mar-a-Lago case has
issued an order appointing a special master. In doing so, the judge
pointedly observed that some of the resultant delay the government
complains of is caused by the government’s cutting corners,
suggesting implicitly that the government abused the warrant
Integrity and Free Speech
has been widely reported, the DOJ is currently issuing subpoenas to
individuals who have dared to question the 2020 election results.
This is occurring against the backdrop of President Biden’s
vendetta against what he calls “ultra MAGA Republicans.” This is
the type of behavior you’d expect in a third-world dictatorship.
in the DOJ’s crosshairs are those who participated in the political
process as alternate electors; those in Congress who voted against
certifying the election results; those who organized or peacefully
attended a permitted rally on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., on
January 6, 2021, even if they had nothing to do with the activities
at the Capitol on that day; and those who have raised funds from
donors with a promise to investigate and challenge election fraud.
of these activities have long historical precedents in our country
and are protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, it was Democrats
who challenged the presidential election results in 2000, 2004, and
2016. Let’s review the evidence.
2000, 15 House Democrats objected to counting Florida’s electoral
votes. Several members of Congress called the 2000 election
“fraudulent,” and Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
vowed that there would be “no peace” because of the allegedly
2004, Democrats in Congress forced a vote to recess the joint session
of Congress counting electoral votes in order to debate perceived
election irregularities in Ohio. Thirty-one House Democrats voted to
reject Ohio’s electoral votes and were applauded for doing so by
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, among others.
2016, several Democrats objected to the certification of Trump
electors based on “overwhelming evidence of Russian interference”
in the election. Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin objected to ten
of Florida’s electors based on a Florida statute that prohibits
state legislators from being electors. Texas Representative Sheila
Jackson Lee proclaimed, “If in that voting, you have glaring
matters that speak to the failure of the electoral system, then it
should be challenged.”
DOJ action was taken in any of these previous years. What has
changed, if not the politicization of the Justice Department?
are the engine of our republic. They ensure the peaceful transfer of
power and are the primary method for the people to influence their
government. And our Constitution’s elections clause—Article I,
Section 4, Clause 1—gives states the primary duty of regulating the
time, places, and manner of elections for federal office. The DOJ’s
role is very limited in this regard. It has the power to administer
the Voting Rights Act, a power that was once necessary to push back
on Jim Crow laws. But the era of Jim Crow is long gone, and it
shouldn’t be up to a politicized DOJ to dictate what election
integrity looks like.
2020 election was rampant with reports of irregularities. Some of
these reports were more accurate than others. But states were right
to take appropriate steps to increase the security of their elections
in the wake of such reports. And yet, from its first days, the Biden
administration has been bent on waging an intimidation campaign
against states attempting to bolster election integrity.
Georgia. The midnight ballot dump that pushed Biden ahead of Trump
had all the appearances of manipulative ballot stuffing. That was
followed by days of uncertainty about who won. Reports soon surfaced
of massive ballot harvesting—illegal in Georgia—as well as deeply
concerning evidence that Mark Zuckerberg-funded nonprofits had placed
personnel in election operations in blue counties with the effect of
decreasing signature-matching efforts.
the backdrop in which the 2020 election took place—with new and
expansive vote-by-mail procedures—it’s not surprising that alarms
went off and that many citizens questioned the final vote tally. So
rather than allow this scenario to repeat itself in future elections,
Georgia’s legislature took action, enacting a package of
election-reform legislation designed to bolster ballot security.
Biden denounced these reforms—which, as many commentators noted,
made voting easier than in Biden’s home state of Delaware—as “Jim
Crow 2.0.” The DOJ sued Georgia to block the new law and issued two
new guidance documents intended to put states including Georgia on
notice of potential violations of federal election laws. It has used
similar tactics in Arizona and Texas.
is not just political activists who are subject to DOJ intimidation.
Attorney General Garland recently issued a guidance document
prohibiting DOJ employees from speaking directly to members of
Congress. This was plainly in response to at least 14 FBI
whistleblowers reaching out to members of Congress—including Ohio
Representative Jim Jordan and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley—about
misconduct within the DOJ. Garland’s action was highly improper,
but it pales in comparison to the intimidation of concerned parents
at local school board meetings.
October 4, 2021, Garland issued a memorandum directing the FBI to
address “threats” at local school board meetings. This was in
response to a request from the National School Boards Association
that the DOJ leverage the Patriot Act and other counterterrorism
tools to investigate moms and dads who were voicing their displeasure
with school policies at local school board meetings.
Garland’s sworn testimony denying the use of counterterrorism tools
to investigate concerned parents, whistleblower evidence tells a
October 20, 2021, Carlton Peeples, the Deputy Assistant Director for
the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, sent an email directing
FBI personnel to use the tag “EDUOFFICIALS” for all school
board-related investigations. Whistleblowers say that the FBI opened
investigations into parents in every region of the country. These
included an investigation of a “right-wing mom” based on her
participation in a “Moms for Liberty” group and personal
ownership of a gun. Another investigation was opened when a dad was
deemed to “fit the profile of an insurrectionist” after
complaining about school mask mandates.
is time to wake up to the danger.
November 11, 1762, King George’s men had a warrant when they
stormed and raided the home of pamphleteer John Entick. They broke
open locked doors, boxes, chests, and drawers and seized his private
papers and books—all because the Crown suspected Entick of
fomenting political opposition against the King. If the FBI’s raid
on Project Veritas journalists’ homes or President Trump’s home
at Mar-a-Lago teaches us anything, it’s that the political
oppression of the eighteenth century remains a threat today. But
today, in addition to brute force, our government has the power of
the modern surveillance state.
a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, I would be
remiss in speaking about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
without quoting Thomas Jefferson, who wrote: “the most sacred of
the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to
all its citizens.” We must find a way to return our Department of
Justice to that central principle of American constitutionalism, as
it carries out its duties in the name of Lady Liberty.
DO (my comments)
Those in charge of the current
American Justice Department need to be removed and tried for treason.
The current president also needs to be removed and treated the same
Also, there is a need to abolish
the Department Of Justice. It is not found anywhere in the national
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