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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to Attorney General-Designate Merrick Garland

March 8, 2021

Merrick Garland
Attorney General-Designate
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Re:  Criminal violations of the Hatch Act, 18 U.S.C. 610

Dear General Garland:

Enclosed is correspondence (including attachments) we had with predecessor Attorney General William Barr requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate credible evidence of criminal violations of the Hatch Act, 18 U.S.C. 610 involving former President Donald Trump’s commandeering of federal property or employees to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, i.e., gratuitously ordering his name on CARES Treasury checks and using White House stationary to insinuate to Direct Deposit recipients of COVID-19 relief funds that he was their benefactor. The significant purpose of the Act was to prevent the exertion of federal government power to control public property and resources to advance the private political ambitions of high officeholders, including the electoral prospects of incumbents.

Attorney General Barr did not extend us the courtesy of a reply or even acknowledge receipt. We expect a marked change in your leadership, initiating a responsive Department of Justice, after four years utter corruption and contempt for the laws.

Since our last letter to Mr. Barr dated June 6, 2020, multiple additional instances of seeming criminal violations of the Hatch Act emerged in connection with Mr. Trump’s seeking and obtaining the Republican Party’s nomination to be re-elected President of the United States.  Among other things, Mr. Trump formally accepted the nomination in a speech delivered from the White House, and numerous prominent officials spoke to the Republican National Convention there or on other federal property promoting Mr. Trump’s candidacy, for example, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, national security advisor Robert O’Brien, and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Mark Meadows, confronted with unprecedented serial violations of the Hatch Act, evasively retorted on August 26, 2020 to POLITICO, “Nobody outside the Beltway really cares.” But whether Meadow’s evasion is true or not, officials inside the Beltway, including the Attorney General, must care about the multitudinous flagrant violations because they are bound by oath to enforce federal criminal prohibitions.  And that obligation is at its zenith when government officials are the suspects.  As Justice Louis D. Brandeis taught in Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 485 (1928) (dissenting opinion):

“Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

We thus reiterate the request we made of Mr. Barr that you appoint a special counsel to investigate the volumes of credible evidence that Mr. Trump and former high- level White House and Cabinet officials violated the Hatch Act by using federal employees or federal property to engage in “political activity” to influence the 2020 presidential election against his competitors.

The predecessor administration normalized official criminality across the board and contempt for the Constitution culminating in the January 6, 2021 insurrection against the Capitol and the rule of law.  You have a duty to restore regular constitutional order for the benefit of the living and their posterity.  Enforcement of the Hatch Act would be a decisive beginning.

We thank you in advance for your consideration.

Ralph Nader                               Bruce Fein                                 Lou Fisher

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