‘Extraordinary Abuse’: Biden-Nominated Federal Prosecutor Tried to Influence DA Race, Lied Under Oath, Watchdogs Find
Posted For: Layla Godey
by Jeff Zymeri
Massachusetts U.S. attorney Rachael Rollins, nominated by President Joe Biden and narrowly confirmed through Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, is responsible for extraordinary abuses of power, two federal watchdogs have concluded.
Rollins, who will resign this week after it became clear the two governmental offices investigating her would release their reports imminently, leaked non-public DOJ information to a reporter in an effort to influence a local DA race and then lied under oath about it — behavior the Office of the Special Counsel termed “one of the most egregious Hatch Act violations that OSC has investigated.”
That office opened an investigation into Rollins after she attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser alongside first lady Jill Biden. So did the Office of the Inspector General within the Department of Justice, which conducts internal investigations.
Both reports detailed Rollins’s effort to influence the 2022 Suffolk County District Attorney election in favor of her preferred candidate, Richard Arroyo. Rollins actively supported Arroyo and acted as a de facto campaign adviser. On multiple occasions during the campaign, Arroyo suggested Rollins’s office might announce an investigation of Kevin Hayden, the incumbent and Arroyo’s rival.
According to the OSC report, Arroyo wrote to Rollins saying that opening the probe into his opponent “would be the best thing I can have happen at this moment.” Minutes later Rollins responded: “Understood. Keep fighting and campaigning. I’m working on something.”
Over the next several weeks, Rollins made three different attempts to surreptitiously disclose that DOJ might investigate Hayden for potential misconduct. “The evidence clearly establishes that she did so for the purpose of harming Mr. Hayden’s campaign,” read the OSC report.
Hayden defeated Arroyo in the primary on September 6. Rollins wrote to Arroyo on the same night infuriated about the results and allegations Hayden had released records related to Arroyo. “This was just dirty and unethical. Such a piece of s*** (illegal) move they did by leaking victims records. They are not above the law. He will regret the day he did this to you. Watch,” wrote Rollins.
Three days later, while Hayden was still a candidate in the general election, Rollins sent a Boston Herald reporter pictures of a memorandum recusing her office from an investigation of Hayden. The Herald then published an article disclosing the recusal and potential investigation.
The OSC also found Rollins’s attendance at a DNC finance event featuring Jill Biden was a violation of the Hatch Act. Following her appearance, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the DOJ would no longer allow political appointees to go to fundraisers and other campaign event.
Rollins attended the event while on duty, in her official capacity, and using a government vehicle. She was told repeatedly prior to the event not to attend, but Rollins refused to heed the warnings.
“Ms. Rollins’s abuse of her power within the federal justice system to achieve a political goal epitomizes the type of ‘political justice’ that Congress intended to prohibit,” the OSC report concluded.
The OIG found the same misconduct and much more. “Rollins falsely testified under oath during her OIG interview when she denied that she was the federal law enforcement source that provided nonpublic, sensitive DOJ information to the Herald reporter about a possible Hayden criminal investigation,” the OIG report read.
The Department of Justice declined to prosecute Rollins over this false claim.
In interviews with the inspector general’s office, Rollins blamed her staff for not properly informing her of how she could have met Biden at the house without running afoul of DOJ policies. The OIG’s office found these “efforts to blame her staff for her own ethics failures deeply disturbing.”
The OIG found that Rollins violated other rules by soliciting and accepting tickets from the Boston Celtics, accepting non-federal payment of travel expenses on two separate occasions, and using her personal cellphone for department business. Rollins also continued to accept political contributions to her Suffolk D.A. campaign account after she was sworn in as U.S. Attorney.
That office concluded Rollins showed poor judgement by calling a live local radio show and discussing a criminal case from which she was recused and also participating in a partisan press conference in response to the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The OIG referred its findings for further action.
Special Counsel Henry Kerner wrote to President Joe Biden saying “even if Ms. Rollins resigns, which would foreclose the possibility of any disciplinary action, I hope that this report provides an opportunity for you to emphasize to all federal employees the importance of serving the public in a professional and nonpartisan manner. The American people deserve nothing less.”