One individual who worked for the Department of Justice under Donald Trump says that the experience was something like a combination of The Apprentice television program and Germany under the Nazi regime.
According to a new piece published in The Atlantic, Erica Newland began working for the DOJ under the Obama administration. When Trump was elected to office, she stuck around while many of her colleagues began leaving the department in protest over some of the policies the new administration wanted to enact. She promised herself she would hold the law and facts above all else.
However, the dynamic within the department began to change and many people found themselves being silenced when questioning the president and his administration’s goals.
“There was no sense that there was anything to be gained by standing up within the office,” she said.
Eventually, after a series of shocking moves, including one memo that referred to members of the MS-13 gang as “animals,” Newland began to notice that colleagues often said they were just “following orders” when executive requests hit their desks.
She explained that she began to feel as though people were behaving as she imagined they did under Nazi leadership in Germany, and she could see herself in the same situation as many of those people who worked under Hitler without agreeing with his policies had been.
“I guess I know what kind I would have been,” Newland said.
“I would have stayed in the Nazi administration initially and then fled.”
At the same time, she says that she felt like her job caused her to use her legal skills to shape-up Trump’s legally dubious statements and arguments in order to adhere to the letter of the law. At one point, she read that the producers for Trump’s hit television program, The Apprentice, were often forced to edit the show to make Trump’s decisions seem “coherent” when they were not.
She felt that she and her colleagues were currently doing the same thing for Trump, only his role was not that of a reality competition host. He is the president of the United States.
She says that loyalty to Trump was valued above anything else.
“There was hardly any respect for the other departments of government — not for the lower courts, not for Congress, and certainly not for the bureaucracy, for professionalism, for facts or the truth,” she said.
“Corruption is the right word for this. It doesn’t have to be pay-to-play to be corrupt. It’s a departure from the oath.”
In October of last year, after a shooter killed 11 people in a synagogue, she decided her work was only serving to bolster the kind of rhetoric that may have inspired mass killings of this nature. Shortly after that, she resigned.
It’s not the first time that someone has been critical of Trump’s DOJ. In February, the president’s relationship with William Barr and the department was under scrutiny after Barr intervened to lessen the sentence against Trump associate Roger Stone.