Justice department official who resigned in protest over guns is expected to return

A senior justice department official who resigned in protest over Donald Trump’s threats to strip federal agents of guns they had won as prizes in SWAT-team competitions was expected to return to her job…

Justice department official who resigned in protest over guns is expected to return

A senior justice department official who resigned in protest over Donald Trump’s threats to strip federal agents of guns they had won as prizes in SWAT-team competitions was expected to return to her job next week, a senior official told the Guardian.

Justice department officials, aware of Paige Rhodes’s anxieties about Trump’s court pick Brett Kavanaugh, thought she would stay put, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Kavanaugh is expected to be approved as a Supreme Court justice.

But Rhodes, who had worked for the department for years, told her colleagues in her email that she planned to leave. She explained in her letter that she had decided to resign because she did not want to be responsible for implementing policies that would damage the department, including the president’s “disproportionate and dangerous focus on law enforcement.”

Rhodes, an assistant attorney general for policy under the Obama administration, resigned in protest on Tuesday after Trump had denounced at a meeting with sheriffs he called “so radical” the idea of law enforcement getting guns used in SWAT raids to better fight crime.

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Trump told the sheriffs at a White House meeting: “We have the highest crime rates in the history of our country. You are sick and tired of illegal immigrants coming into your communities, committing crimes, and you want strong, swift, fair law enforcement.”

He added: “You don’t have any sympathy for these people. We take their guns away. We investigate them, we bring them back in. We get them the hell out of here.”

Earlier this month, Rhodes had been in discussions with acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker about plans for the department’s involvement in an administrative investigation into the death of a US special forces soldier in Niger.

A top department official handling the investigation into the death of Sgt La David Johnson, killed in Niger in October, told Rhodes about her concerns that Trump was casting doubt on Johnson’s slaying, and that the president’s remarks were threatening to derail the investigation.

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Rhodes was a career civil servant who handled issues including gang prosecutions, racial and immigration justice and the counternarcotics efforts of the department’s national security division.

In her letter, she wrote that Trump’s remarks on Johnson reflected the “discourse of a crude tabloid radio host”.

The Guardian has reached out to the acting attorney general’s office for comment on whether Rhodes will return to work.

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