On revient sur l’éditorial : Deputy AG Monaco says claims of politicization ‘a disservice’ to Justice Department personnel


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Republican accusations that the Justice Department has been politicized to target former President Donald Trump and others on the right are a « disservice » to the DOJ’s employees and add fuel to a toxic environment that has helped drive a recent rise in threats against public officials, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told ABC News’ « This Week » in an exclusive interview.

« Those claims bear no resemblance to the Justice Department that I know, » Monaco told ABC News’ Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. « The Justice Department that I know is filled with dedicated men and women, investigators, lawyers, prosecutors, analysts, professional staff who get up every day, Pierre, they get up every day without regard to who’s in the White House or who’s in Congress. »

PHOTO: Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks with ABC News' Pierre Thomas at the Department of Justice.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speaks with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas at the Department of Justice.

ABC News

Monaco, the DOJ’s second-highest ranking official, added, « It really bothers me when I hear those claims because it does a disservice to the men and women of the Justice Department. »

In the interview, Monaco addressed what she said is an « unprecedented rise » in threats against public officials around the country that the Justice Department has had to address, including federal cases just in the last week involving individuals who allegedly threatened a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, FBI agents and three U.S. presidential candidates.

While she declined to discuss comments from any specific individual, Thomas asked Monaco whether comments such as calling DOJ officials « thugs » was helpful in the current moment.

Monaco’s comments in defense of the department come at a time when it is arguably under greater scrutiny than ever before in its history — following the unprecedented two indictments against Trump by Special Counsel Jack Smith for his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving the White House and attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

A separate special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, David Weiss, recently returned two separate indictments against President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden for alleged tax and gun crimes. And another Special Counsel, Robert Hur, is investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents after leaving the vice presidency.

PHOTO: In this April 14, 2023, file photo, Lisa Monaco, deputy US attorney general, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C.

In this April 14, 2023, file photo, Lisa Monaco, deputy US attorney general, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C.

Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Thomas asked Monaco whether she could assure the American people all three special counsels are leading their investigations « without regard to anything but the facts and the law. »

« Yes, » Monaco said. « And the reason I say that, Pierre, is look, these are matters of the utmost importance and significance. … Cases of that level of significance are — it’s exceptionally important that they are handled independently, confidentially and free of any outside or inappropriate influence and that’s exactly why the attorney general appointed special counsels in the first place. »

Monaco further said Biden has never raised any of the matters at issue in the three separate special counsel probes with her, nor tried to influence the department.

DOJ ‘hard at work’ addressing national security issues from border crisis

As the Biden administration remains in talks with Republicans on Capitol Hill to reach a deal to address the crisis at the southern border, Monaco was asked about whether thousands of foreign nationals from countries like Russia and China who have sought to come into the country over the past year present a « national security issue » for the Justice Department to address.

« Well, sure, these are national security issues, » Monaco answered. « And the Justice Department and the FBI are working with the Department of Homeland Security that has primary responsibility for securing the border, working with the intelligence community to address national security challenges and threats from wherever they emanate. And you can be assured that the FBI and the Justice Department are hard at work on that. »

Pressed on the current backlog of roughly three million people in U.S. immigration courts — including many individuals requesting asylum — Monaco pointed to DOJ’s latest budget request to Congress, which she said would pave the way for more money and authorities to hire immigration judges.

« Look, this is a real challenge, » Monaco said. « The Justice Department operates the immigration courts with immigration judges, and the — they are essential to a fair and efficient immigration system. And we have been resolving a record number of cases in the last couple of years, but we still have far too few immigration judges. »

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