Press Release

Yeomans: Trump, Sessions Building “Shadow” DOJ

August 9, 2017

Washington, D.C., August 9, 2017 – In the latest edition of Yeomans Work, “The Affirmative Action Distraction,” AFJ’s Ronald Goldfarb Fellow for Justice, Bill Yeomans, looks at the rapid transformation of the Department of Justice in the era of Trump.  He writes about a recent initiative at DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to recruit attorneys for a project challenging affirmative action, noting that it seems likely that “the assignment would evolve into a broader attack on affirmative action programs.” While that is chilling enough, Yeomans adds that it is the first step toward an even more grim future for DOJ: one in which the department is wholly transformed into a political tool.

Alarmingly, Yeomans writes that when it comes to DOJ, “Trump and Attorney General Sessions have three choices. They can live with existing structures and personnel, which is not likely. Or they can create a shadow government to circumvent the career attorneys. Or they can force currently serving attorneys to leave and replace them with new hires who share the Trump/Sessions partisan and ideological views. The second option is already in play and the third likely is not far behind.”

We’ve seen this movie before, Yeomans suggests. Such was the case at DOJ’s Civil Rights Division under George W. Bush: “As exposed both by Congress and the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Bush officials transferred disfavored attorneys and deprived them of meaningful work, often in the hope of driving them out of the Division. Simultaneously, they revamped the hiring system by placing it entirely in the hands of political appointees, who proceeded to hire new attorneys on the basis of right wing ideology and partisan affiliation.”

Yeomans Work focuses on the challenges to the justice system in the era of Trump. Bill Yeomans is available for media interviews.  Contact Laurie Kinney, Communications Director, at or 202-464-7367.