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Archive for July 22nd, 2021

Justice Department Seeks to Restore Independence from White House

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a directive Wednesday that seeks to limit contacts between the Justice Department and the White House, marking a significant departure from the Trump era. 

In the memo, Garland said the Justice Department “will not advise the White House concerning pending or contemplated criminal or civil law enforcement investigations or cases unless doing so is important for the performance of the President’s duties and appropriate from a law enforcement perspective,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

The memo made exceptions for matters of national security and foreign relations. 

The guidelines are in stark contrast to Trump’s White House, which repeatedly sought to influence the DOJ and stay abreast of the department’s criminal investigations and cases.

The wording of the memo is similar to a 2009 memo issued by then-attorney General Eric Holder. Although that memo remained in effect during Trump’s term, he continually violated the language. 

In a related memo on Wednesday, the White House instructed its staff to avoid contact with departments or agencies about investigations unless given approval. 

Michael J. Driscoll Named Assistant Director of New York Field Office

Special FBI Agent Michael J. Driscoll.

By Steve Neavling

Michael J. Driscoll, who most recently headed the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office, has been named assistant director of the New York Field Office. 

Driscoll is no stranger to the New York Field Office, where he began his career as a special agent in 1996, investigating terrorism cases. He helped investigate al Qaeda conspirators involved in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 9/11 attacks. 

Driscoll earned an Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 for his work on the al Qaeda cases and the 1998 embassy bombings.

In 2003, Driscoll was transferred to FBI headquarters to serve as the bureau’s representative to the al Qaeda Department of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

In 2005, Driscoll returned to the New York Field Office, where he headed the squad tasked with extraterritorial investigations in Africa. He also led the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts in the New York Hudson Valley region and was later promoted to the coordinating supervisory special agent for New York’s Counterterrorism Program.

In 2013, Driscoll was named assistant legal attaché for London, where he oversaw the Cyber Program and working closely with U.K. law enforcement and intelligence services. In 2016, he became assistant special agent in charge of Philadelphia’s counterintelligence and cyber programs.

In 2018, he returned to FBI headquarters, serving as the chief of the Violent Crime Section, which leads the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Program, as well as efforts to combat violent crime and gang-related violence.

In 2019, Driscoll was promoted to special agent in charge of New York’s Criminal Division and later began to lead New York’s Counterintelligence and Cyber Division.

Driscoll was named special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Field Office in 2020. 

Before joining the FBI, Driscoll worked as an attorney in commercial litigation. He’s a graduate of the State University of New York in Albany, and he received his law degree from Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, N.Y.

The FBI announced three other appointments on Wednesday.

Jennifer L. Moore was named assistant director of the Security Division at FBI headquarters. Christine O’Neill was named assistant director of the Human Resources Division at FBI’s headquarters. And Timothy M. Dunham was named assistant director of the Training Division.