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Brand Loyalty

February 12, 2018 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

For the No. 3 lawyer at the Department of Justice to quit after just nine months on the job is, to
say the least, unusual. Under the Trump administration, where the
downright bizarre is so commonplace that the merely unusual barely
registers, this is nevertheless an aberration worth marking,
because it says a lot about the state of a Justice Department
locked in a surreal conflict with its own president and his party,
none of it good.

When United States Associate Attorney General Rachel L. Brand
last week announced she’d be stepping down to take a job as a
vice president at Wal-Mart, it made headlines primarily because it
also meant passing on her role as heir apparent to embattled Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Tasked with supervising Robert
Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016
presidential election following Attorney General Jeff
Sessions’ recusal, Rosenstein has become an improbable target
of invective from the very president who appointed him, from
Republican legislators, and even from Political Action Committees. It seems clear
that Trump is laying groundwork for his eventual removal, in hopes
that Rosenstein’s successor—meaning, until her
departure, Brand—might be more willing to carry out an order
to fire Mueller. But her departure should be seen as a warning sign
with implications not only for the Mueller inquiry, but the future
of the Trump Justice Department as a whole. To see why, it’s
helpful to appreciate two things about Rachel Brand.

Brand’s departure
suggests that the working environment at Justice—not only
under regular assault from Trump as a handmaiden of a corrupt “Deep
State,” but facing unsubtle and unseemly pressure from White House
Chief of Staff John Kelly—had become corrosive and

The first is that Brand had a solid bipartisan reputation as a
conservative lawyer of professionalism and integrity. When
confirmed to her post last May, she won praisefrom Clinton Administration veteran
Jamie Gorelick, as well as Barack Obama’s former acting
solicitor general, Neal Kaytal. When I first encountered Brand, in
her previous role as a Republican member of the Privacy and Civil
Liberties Oversight Board during the Obama administration, she was
as consistent as she was vocal in her disagreement with those of us
who believed government surveillance in the name of the War on
Terror had gone too far. Yet she also impressed me as a serious and
fair-minded advocate for her positions, and many of my colleague in
civil society have expressed public disappointment at her impending

The second thing to understand is that if you squint at
Brand’s resumé, it resolves itself like a Magic Eye
stereogram …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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