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new rules

Garland tightens restrictions on political activity for DOJ appointees

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday issued new guidance for political appointees at the Department of Justice, banning them for taking part in any sort of campaign event going forward, The Hill reports.

The updated rule comes as the DOJ fends off criticism for authorizing the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Florida mansion.

"We must do all we can to maintain public trust and ensure that politics — both in fact and appearance — does not compromise or affect the integrity of our work," Garland wrote in a memo to DOJ employees.

Previously, political appointees were permitted to attend partisan campaign events "in their personal capacities" so long as they "participated passively and obtained approval"; Garland's memo on Tuesday outlaws such exceptions, even if, for instance, an appointee had a close family member running for office, The Hill summarizes. 

"I know you agree it is critical that we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards to avoid even the appearance of political influence as we carry out the Department's mission," the attorney general continued. "It is in that spirit that I have added these new restrictions on political activities by non-career employees."

The announcement arrives just before the DOJ enters what is known as its 60-day pre-midterms "blackout" period, during which time it takes pains to avoid public activity in a outwardly political case, lest it "potentially affect the results of the election," writes The Washington Post.