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The inspector general of the Ministry of Justice is opening an investigation into any effort to annul the election.

A Justice Department watchdog has opened an investigation into whether current or former officials improperly attempted to exercise the department’s powers to overturn the presidential election results, his office said Monday.

The announcement by the office of Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz followed a New York Times article that detailed the efforts of Jeffrey Clark, acting head of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, to push the senior leaders to falsely and publicly assert this current election. fraud investigations cast doubt on the results of the electoral college. The stalemate prompted President Donald J. Trump to consider replacing then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen and installing Mr. Clark as the head of the department to carry out the plan.

“The Inspector General is opening an investigation into whether a former or current DOJ official made an improper attempt to have the DOJ seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” Horowitz said in a statement.

The investigation will encompass all allegations regarding the conduct of former and current departmental employees, although it would be limited to the Justice Department because other agencies fall outside Mr. Horowitz’s jurisdiction. He said he was announcing the investigation to reassure the public that the matter is being closely scrutinized.

On Saturday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, urged Mr. Horowitz to open an investigation, saying it was “inadmissible that a chief of Trump’s Justice Department conspires to overthrow the will of the people” .

This is the second known investigation into the actions of senior Justice Department officials in the final weeks of the Trump administration. Earlier this month, Horowitz opened an investigation into whether Trump administration officials pressured Byung J. Pak, the US attorney in Atlanta, who abruptly resigned after he became clear to Mr. Trump that he would not take steps to cast doubt on overturning the election results, according to a person briefed on the investigation.

Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee said over the weekend that it had launched its own surveillance investigation into officials, including Mr. Clark.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the committee’s top Democrat, sent a letter to the Department of Justice saying he would investigate Mr. Trump and Mr. Clark’s efforts to use the agency. to advance Trump’s efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election. ”

Mr Durbin asked Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson to retain documents, emails and messages related to meetings between senior Justice Department officials, the White House and Mr Trump, as well as all communications related to Mr. Pak’s resignation.

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Career civil servant supposed to temporarily head the Ministry of Justice.

However, Mr. Trump circumvented that system in 2018 after ousting Mr. Sessions as attorney general, invoking the Vacancy Reform Act of 1998 to install Matthew G. Whitaker, who had served as Mr. Sessions, as Acting Attorney General instead of allowing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the next Senate confirmed official in order of succession, to fill this role.

The Department of Justice’s legal counsel’s office has approved Mr. Trump’s move as legal, setting a precedent that gives presidents greater flexibility in deciding who can temporarily be the most senior law enforcement official. of the country during a vacation. The Biden team appears to be using the same tactics for Mr. Wilkinson’s installation of Mr. Biden.

John Carlin, the former head of the national security division under the Obama administration, is expected to become the acting deputy attorney general once Mr. Biden is sworn in, according to people briefed on the transition decision.

Once Lisa Monaco, Mr Biden’s choice for the post of Deputy Attorney General, is confirmed, Mr Carlin will become his first deputy. Ms Monaco was the head of the National Security Division before Mr Carlin, and the two are known to be close allies.

Mr. Carlin and Mr. Demers are also long-time friends; they were roommates at law school.

Members of Biden’s transition team expect Judge Garland to face little opposition during his confirmation process, as key Republicans, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed support for his appointment. Other prominent Republicans including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine backed Judge Garland in 2017 when Republicans pitched him as a potential choice by Mr. Trump for lead the FBI.

Once confirmed, Mr Biden said Judge Garland’s top priority would be to restore the department’s independence from the White House, a standard that has been deeply eroded by Mr Trump. Mr Barr was generally seen as willing to serve the president’s political agenda for the better part of his tenure.

To complicate his job, Judge Garland will have to navigate requests from some Democrats to investigate Mr. Trump and Republicans to provide more information on the federal investigation into the ongoing tax evasion of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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The Ministry of Justice carries out the 10th execution this year

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department on Friday executed Alfred Bourgeois, a 56-year-old inmate sentenced to death for the murder of his 2-year-old daughter in 2002.

The execution of Mr. Bourgeois was the 10th carried out by the Trump administration since the federal government resumed its application of the death penalty in July after a 17-year hiatus. The latest planned by the Trump administration for 2020, the execution of Mr. Bourgeois adds to what has become the deadliest year in federal capital punishment history since at least the 1920s.

Mr. Bourgeois was pronounced dead at 8:21 p.m. at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., According to the Bureau of Prisons.

On Thursday, the federal government executed Brandon Bernard, despite a high-profile campaign for leniency that included Kim Kardashian West and two lawyers who helped defend President Trump during his impeachment. Mr. Trump’s administration has executed three people since polling day, the only federal executions during the lame period before a new presidential administration for at least 90 years.

The Justice Department said that Mr. Bourgeois, once a truck driver living in Louisiana, tortured and beat his young daughter to death. After a paternity test established him as the father and a court ordered him to pay child support, Mr Bourgeois temporarily took custody of his daughter, court documents show.

When the child knocked over his potty chair in Mr Bourgeois’ truck, he attacked the girl and she died the next day, the Justice Department said. After the jury heard testimony of his violence against others, Mr. Bourgeois was sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder, which was a federal offense because it occurred at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Force Base.

In his last words, Mr. Bourgeois did not apologize, according to a report from a journalist present. Rather, he claimed that he had not killed his daughter.

“I ask God to forgive all those who conspired and conspired against me, and filed false evidence,” he said, adding, “I did not commit this crime.”

As the lethal injection began, Mr. Bourgeois gave a thumbs up to his spiritual advisor, standing in a corner of the death chamber, according to the report. Within minutes, his body was still.

In a statement, the victim’s family said they can now begin the healing process, but justice should not have taken 18 years.

The department had scheduled the execution of Mr. Bourgeois last January but the month before, the Supreme Court let a lower court ruling hold that blocked it. An Indiana federal judge also suspended his case in March, after his defense claimed Mr. Bourgeois was intellectually disabled and ineligible for the death penalty. Another court canceled that trip in October.

The federal death penalty law prohibits the government from executing a mentally disabled inmate under the law, and the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that mentally disabled felons cannot be put to death. His lawyers claimed that Mr Bourgeois had obtained IQ scores low enough to constitute evidence of intellectual functioning deficits and underwent other assessments which they said helped show he should be exempted from the penalty. capital city.

But like other detainees executed by the federal government this year, Mr. Bourgeois was unsuccessful with his final plea to delay his execution. The Supreme Court rejected Mr Bourgeois’ request for suspension on Friday, with justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting. Joined by Judge Kagan, Judge Sotomayor wrote that the court should resolve the legal issue in his case which is likely to recur before sanctioning the execution of Mr. Bourgeois.

Victor J. Abreu, lawyer for Mr. Bourgeois, argued that the government had killed his client without due consideration and “despite clear directives from the Supreme Court of the United States and federal laws which prohibited” his execution.

Another offer of reprieve in the last days of Mr. Bourgeois also failed. In a 5-4 decision by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the judges also refused to stay the challenge to the federal enforcement protocol.

Federal law on the death penalty requires executions to be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed”. Death row inmates challenged the federal execution protocol with arguments over whether the law requires the federal government to follow the details of protocols required by states.

Both Mr. Bernard and Mr. Bourgeois were sentenced in Texas. State law requires a delay of at least 90 days between announcement and execution, but Mr. Bernard only had 55 days and Mr. Bourgeois only 21 days – a violation of federal law, argued their defense teams.

After the appeals court on Thursday rejected the detainees ‘request in the case, Mr. Bourgeois’ legal team refused to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Shawn Nolan, his lawyer, said the court had recently been unresponsive to disputes over the method of enforcement.

The next federal prisoner on death row is Lisa M. Montgomery, the only woman on death row. His execution is scheduled for January 12. The Trump administration intends to put three inmates to death next month before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office. Mr Biden has said he will work to end the federal death penalty.

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Armed officers allowed in counting rooms, justice ministry tells prosecutors

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice told federal prosecutors in an email on Wednesday that the law allows them to send armed federal agents to counting places across the country to investigate possible electoral fraud, according to three people who described the message.

The email created a specter of the federal government intimidating local election officials or otherwise interfering in the vote count amid calls by President Trump to end the compilation in the states he was in. is lagging behind in the presidential race, former officials have said.

A law prohibits the posting of armed federal agents to the polls on election day. But a senior official told prosecutors the ministry interpreted the statute to mean they could send armed federal agents to polling stations and places where ballots were counted at any time thereafter.

The law “does not prevent armed federal law enforcement agencies from responding to, investigating or preventing federal crimes at closed polling stations or other places where votes are counted,” the official said. , Richard P. Donoghue, to prosecutors in an email: he sent around 1:30 am Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Donoghue, the No. 2 official in the Office of Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, sent his email about half an hour before Mr Trump made reckless statements, including falsely declaring himself the winner election and calling on election officials to stop counting ballots.

“We want all votes to stop,” Mr. Trump said at the White House. He said, without giving details, that his campaign “would go to the Supreme Court of the United States” because of the election count. The Trump campaign said later in the day that it is suing several states, including Michigan, to interrupt or protest the vote count.

A state election official has vowed to resist any interference or intimidation efforts by federal officials.

“Elections are a matter of state, and we as state officials have authority over whoever attempts to enter places where the ballots are counted,” said Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts. “Everything else is a radical reinterpretation of the law. States can manage elections and we will make sure that the people decide the outcome. “

The election was both unusual and busy. A historic number of postal ballots, triggered by the pandemic, has slowed the work of local election officials who count them. And Mr Trump fueled fears over the integrity of the vote for months and amplified unfounded conspiracy theories that slow-counting states could not be trusted, escalating his baseless accusations as the tally stretched. on the last day of voting and his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., gained an advantage in key states.

Attorney General William P. Barr also spent the months leading up to Election Day echoing the president’s grim warnings, claiming without evidence that the wave of ballots in the mail would lead to an unprecedented number of electoral fraud.

He cited an example of 1,700 forged ballots that the Washington Post deemed false. A department spokeswoman blamed an inaccurate memo from an assistant.

The new legal interpretation of armed officials in counting places appears to be another example of the attorney general reflecting Mr. Trump’s public posture, former Justice Department officials said.

“This appears to be a messaging tactic for the attorney general,” said Vanita Gupta, acting head of the department’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama. “Legally, the Department of Justice cannot interfere with the counting of votes, enter polling stations or take ballots, even during an investigation.”

In cases where the ministry can gain access to ballots for any investigation, Ms. Gupta said federal law allowed law enforcement officials to “copy and inspect, but ballots votes remain in the hands of local election officials ”.

Justice Department officials said this week they expected lawyers for the Trump and Biden campaigns to take notice of election-related legal challenges, and that the Trump administration would have little or no role. .

Election experts said any effort by the Justice Ministry to blatantly interfere with the election would immediately lead to legal challenges. Still, armed officials arriving at counting sites, even for investigative purposes, could intimidate or disrupt the process, they warned.

“The very strong and long-standing standard is that the federal government does not seek to do anything to interfere with a state’s ability to count votes and certify elections,” said Kristy Parker, head of the Civil Rights Division of the department under the Obama administration.