US Attorney Rachael Rollins, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, will resign amid investigations into a series of ethical violations.
US Attorney Rachael Rollins, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, will resign amid investigations into a series of ethical violations, including allegations that she leaked sensitive information to the press to influence a district attorney election and then lied to investigators to cover it up.
- Rollins announced her resignation on Tuesday and her attorney said in a statement that she “understands that her presence has become a distraction.” As AP News noted, “The resignation of a U.S. attorney amid ethics concerns is an exceedingly rare phenomenon.”
- Rollins rose to prominence in the “progressive prosecutor” movement, winning election as Suffolk County District Attorney, the chief prosecutor in Boston with the support of Democratic megadonor George Soros. Her nomination was championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
- Progressives urged President Joe Biden to nominate her as US Attorney for Massachusetts, but her nomination twice needed Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties to advance her nomination amid spirited GOP opposition. She took office in January 2022.
- On Wednesday, reports by the Justice Department Inspector General and the independent Office of Special Counsel were released that described a series of ethical violations over the course of Rollins’ short tenure as US attorney. The OSC report referred to Rollins’ conduct as “an extraordinary abuse of her authority and threatens to erode public confidence in the integrity of law enforcement.”
- Rollins allegedly leaked sensitive information to the Boston Globe about Kevin Hayden, her interim successor as DA, to help his progressive opponent Ricardo Arroyo win the election to succeed her. Rollins’ leaks were designed to attack Hayden’s handling of a police misconduct probe and imply that the Justice Department was investigating him for public corruption.
- She remained in frequent contact with Arroyo throughout his campaign against Hayden, at one point texting him encouragement like, “No mercy. Finish him.”
- She then lied under oath about her election interference scheme to federal investigators, and only admitted her role after being confronted with text messages that investigators had proving it.
- Rollins is also accused of soliciting 30 free Boston Celtics tickets for a local youth organization and snagging two tickets for herself in the process. She also repeatedly used her personal cell phone to conduct government business and violated the Hatch Act by appearing at a fundraiser in her official capacity with First Lady Jill Biden.
- According to AP News, the inspector general report into Rollins was “the most scathing public condemnation in recent years of a U.S. attorney, a prestigious federal post that has occasionally served as a springboard to higher office, and detailed efforts to mislead Justice Department investigators during interviews.”
- The watchdog investigation into Rollins has had implications for the most important case on her plate: the leak investigation into Airman Jack Teixeira. According to the New York Times, the probe into Rollins’ conduct, “which was viewed as an embarrassment by department leaders,” played a role in the DOJ’s push to change the venue from Boston to Northern Virginia.
- The Washington Post covered the reaction of Sen. Tom Cotton, who urged the watchdogs to investigate Rollins in the first place. Cotton said in a statement that he’d “warned Democratic senators that Rachael Rollins wasn’t only a pro-criminal ideologue, but also had a history of poor judgment and ethical lapses.”
- CNN detailed the Jill Biden fundraiser incident. Rollins “was “driven in a government vehicle by a subordinate employee” of her office to a private home in Andover, Massachusetts, where the event was taking place. After media reports raised questions about the appearance, Rollins suggested on Twitter that she had “approval” to be there, according to the report, which said she in fact did not receive the necessary approval to attend the event.”
- The Wall Street Journal observed of Rollins’ 2021 nomination, “Republicans criticized her as a radical whose policies would drive up violent crime, citing her history as district attorney in Suffolk County. She campaigned for that office on reducing prosecutions for lower-level offenses, among other ideas championed by self-identified progressive prosecutors. The White House nominated her after strong urging from Massachusetts’ Democratic Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren.”
- National Review covered in more detail Rollins’ interference into the 2022 Suffolk County DA election. At one point, Arroyo texted Rollins that “opening the probe into his opponent “would be the best thing I can have happen at this moment.” Minutes later Rollins responded: “Understood. Keep fighting and campaigning. I’m working on something.” Over the next several weeks, Rollins made three different attempts to surreptitiously disclose that DOJ might investigate Hayden for potential misconduct.”
- Fox News noted that not only did Rollins leak information to a reporter falsely implying Hayden was under investigation for misconduct, she helped Arroyo fight off actual accusations of misconduct. According to the report, “Rollins provided advice to Arroyo concerning a story published in the Globe on August 23, 2022, about allegations against Arroyo of sexual assault dating back to 2005 and 2007. On August 22, the day before the story broke, Rollins gave Arroyo feedback on his draft answers to the Globe reporter’s questions and told Arroyo in a text message: ‘Ask [the reporter] to call me about the sexual assault suspect question. I will answer off the record.’”
© Dominic Moore, 2023