Published: Feb 13, 2018, 10:13 am • Updated: Feb 13, 2018, 10:45 am
WASHINGTON — The sudden departure of the Justice Department’s No. 3 official is adding to the turmoil at an agency that already lacks permanent, politically appointed leaders for many of its most important divisions.
Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand’s resignation builds on an unusual problem that has contributed to instability in the department, current and former officials say, and has prevented the Trump administration from fully implementing its agenda more than a year after Attorney General Jeff Sessions took office.
Sessions lamented situation Monday, blaming a single Republican senator for holding up the confirmations of key figures, including the heads of the department’s national security, criminal and civil rights divisions. While not mentioning him by name, Sessions left no doubt he was referring to Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who promised to prevent the confirmation of all Justice Department nominees after Sessions lifted Obama-era protections for states that have legalized marijuana.
Gardner continues to block the confirmations in protest, his spokesman confirmed Monday night.
Some of President Donald Trump’s Justice Department nominees have been in limbo for months as they go through a drawn-out confirmation process that has been aggravated by Gardner’s resistance.
That might be less surprising if Congress were controlled by Democrats. But it’s unusual to see a Republican blocking his own president’s nominee.
“It’s getting frustrating,” Sessions told a friendly crowd at a gathering of the National Sheriff’s Association. “These are critically important components … But because right now one senator’s concerns over unrelated issues — like reversing federal law against marijuana — we can’t even get a vote.”
Brand announced Friday she was leaving for a top legal job at Walmart after less than nine