Biden DOJ to review Trump-era rule banning 'slush fund' payments
Added 01-21-21 12:23:02pm EST - “President Biden's team said he will be instructing his attorney general to review a Trump policy prohibiting the Justice Department from using tens of millions of dollars in bank settlement payments that Republicans criticize as a…” - Washingtonexaminer.com
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President Biden's team said he will be instructing his attorney general to review a Trump policy prohibiting the Justice Department from using tens of millions of dollars in bank settlement payments that Republicans criticize as a “slush fund” to leftist groups.
The Biden transition team released this week a “non-exclusive list of agency actions that heads of the relevant agencies will review” in accordance with an executive order on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis" signed Wednesday. The Biden team list said the Justice Department, which may soon be led by Judge Merrick Garland, Biden's attorney general nominee, would be instructed to scrutinize one specific Trump-era rule.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a directive in June 2017 titled the “Prohibition on Settlement Payments to Non-Governmental Third Parties." The policy was made part of the Justice Department’s manual by early 2018, and a final version of the rule was entered into the Federal Register in December 2020.
Sessions said settlements "are a useful tool for Department attorneys to achieve the ends of justice” but that “it has come to my attention that certain previous settlement agreements involving the Department included payments to various non-governmental, third-party organizations as a condition of settlement with the United States.” The former attorney general said “these third-party organizations were neither victims nor parties to the lawsuits” and the Justice Department “will no longer engage in this practice.”
The Justice Department reached a multibillion-dollar plea agreement in 2014 with Citigroup and Bank of America for their role in the 2008 global financial crisis. As part of the deal, the banks were instructed to donate tens of millions to housing-related charities and other nonprofit groups, some of which had a left-wing bent, though some of the groups were not victims themselves.
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