Maybe Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t like being on President Donald Trump’s bad side or maybe the controversy around his recusal from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia’s attacks on the US electoral system have given the attorney general a new sense of urgency.
Sessions is moving quickly to reshape federal law enforcement, and has already implemented new policies that will “turn more offenses into federal crimes, confiscate suspects’ property, and crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions,” reports Pema Levy.
“The policies fit Sessions’ tough-on-crime attitude toward criminal justice,” says Levy, “but he isn’t taking credit for them.”
Despite his obvious commitment to turning civil rights legislation on it head, Sessions is claiming that he is only carrying out the recommendations of the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.
But the Justice Department has not disclosed who is on the task force nor its meeting agendas, and has made none of its recommendations to the attorney general public — which makes the group behind the Trump administration’s most consequential policy changes very mysterious indeed.
In a memo in April, Sessions did reveal two specific members on the task force: a career Justice Department attorney named Robyn Thiemann and a federal prosecutor from Tennessee named Steven Cook, whom Sessions had hired as assistant deputy attorney general to oversee criminal justice policy.
Cook is a vocal “proponent of harsh sentencing and a foe of criminal justice reform,” notes Levy, and he will now have “a hand in guiding Sessions as he implements his law-and-order agenda.”