The White House Releases a Set of Executive Orders Involving the Department of Justice
Published: February 15, 2017
Upon confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week, President Trump signed a slew of executive orders focused on the Department of Justice, curbing crime and restoring public safety.
During his campaign trail, President Trump promised a reduction of crime and the restoration of public safety to the United States. On February 9, 2017, after swearing in the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, the President issued a set of executive orders to put the new A.G. to work on those promises.
One of those directives simply supplies an order of succession within the Justice, while the remaining three executive orders target the reduction of crime:
The executive order names successors for those within the office of the Attorney General, including the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and the Associate Deputy Attorney General, and any others appointed by the A.G. should they be unable to fulfill their positions:
- United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
- United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
- United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri
Detailing the harms and effects of organized crime and trafficking in the country, the presidential order calls for a report to be submitted to the President within 120 days on the holistic view of transnational criminal organizations and sub organizations. Thereafter, a similar report is to be released on an annual basis. Moreover, the order instructs that a quarterly report be published on the crimes committed by these types of organizations.
Alluding to increased resources towards this initiative, the executive order also calls for an assessment of federal agency funds and personnel dedicated to dismantling transnational criminal organizations as well as identifying the lack of funding and programs that may currently hinder federal efforts to combat these organizations.
To do this, the executive branch is charged with:
- Increasing the focus of law enforcement on transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including criminal gangs, cartels, racketeering organizations, and other groups engaged in illicit activities
- Ensuring high priority and sufficient resources are given to law enforcement to identify, investigate, comprehend and prosecute those involved with the aforementioned organizations
- Maximizing the ability for all law enforcement to share information and coordinate with other federal law enforcement agencies
- Increasing cooperation with international counterparts and the sharing of intel and heighted security sector assistance
- Developing policies among the Department of State, Attorney General and Department of Homeland Security through groups such as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Special Operations Division, the OCDETF Fusion Center, and the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center
- Supporting additional efforts to curb and prevent these types of crimes with the prosecution of ancillary criminal offenses such as immigration and visa frauds
With the Department of Justice in the lead, this order calls for new strategies to maximize the protection of law enforcement. Furthermore, Justice is to use current federal laws to the extent possible to “prosecute individuals who commit or attempt to commit crimes of violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.”
In order to implement the executive order, the department must collectively work with other federal agencies, state, local and tribal governments in the prosecution of the efforts. Furthermore, Justice must review all current federal law to recommend new initiatives to advance the protection of law enforcement. These recommendations may even include changes to grant funding given to fellow entities for law enforcement protection.
The final executive order instructs the Attorney General to establish a Task Force. Members of the group, appointed by Sessions, will focus on exchanging information and ideas to ultimately identify crime reduction strategies that the President can implement. Those strategies should particularly target “illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.”
To do this, the executive order instructs the Task Force to both identify deficiencies in existing laws that have been least effective in preventing crime as well as suggest new legislation to strengthen those laws. The established group is to also evaluate the availability and success of current data and come up with new measures for data collection to aid in understanding the trend of crimes and that will assist in the overall reduction of crime. The president has asked for a report from the Task Force within the next year, with a subsequent report submitted annually thereafter.
While language in these executive orders do not explicitly depict new funding, we may see a reallocation of funds towards targeting large organized crime groups and international trafficking within the applicable federal agencies. The orders also suggest increased funding towards programs on federal, state, local or tribal levels to increase protection for law enforcement. Moreover, the push for collecting and sharing of criminal data may suggest that new tools and systems will be sought after to successfully implement the administration’s overarching efforts to boost public safety.