One of Minnesota's top prosecutors is among a number of high-profile lawyers who has made headlines by cutting ties with the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) this month.
Ramsey Co. Attorney John Choi was part of President Donald Trump's "Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice," a task force launched in October 2019 with the purpose of "studying ways to make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities."
On Friday, Choi sent a letter of resignation to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, saying he was concerned that the commission was “intent on providing cover for a predetermined agenda that ignores the lessons of the past,” according to Huffington Post.
The news site says Choi went on to write that the commission's final report would "vilify local prosecutors who exercise their well settled prosecutorial discretion consistent with their community’s values and the interests of justice,” and that addressing community concerns "was never the intended goal.”
The Huffington Post also notes that the Justice Department "struck back" at Choi, with two U.S. attorneys saying Choi offered “very little in substance" and that his opinions “didn’t have a lot of depth.”
The president's commission has been criticized before; in March, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the body was "little more than a sham commission formed only for the purposes of advancing a 'Thin Blue Line' law and order agenda."
In a court hearing, the ACLU criticized the commission for its "failure to address police violence," its disregard for the COVID-19 pandemic and its "attacks on reform oriented prosecutors, significant actors in the criminal legal system who understand that justice and public safety can be achieved without harsh, punitive approaches."
Choi was not the only lawyer to walk away from the Justice Department on Friday; two high-profile DOJ attorneys also announced their departures from politically charged projects.
One was David Morrell, a deputy assistant attorney general working on DOJ's lawsuit against former U.S. National Security advisor and Trump critic John Bolton:
The other was Nora Dannehy, a Connecticut federal prosecutor and top aide to John Durham, the U.S. attorney appointed by Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia probe into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
The Hartford Courant reported that Dannehy's resignation was "at least partly out of concern that the investigative team is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done," with associates telling the paper they believe Barr is pressuring the team to "produce something" before the presidential election in November.