The former White House chief of staff took a step he likely never would have taken while still at his old job Sunday and directly criticized Attorney General Merrick Garland for his approach to a Republican crackdown on voting access and abortion rights. .
Ron Klain made the comments in a conversation with his former colleague, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, on her MSNBC show. Inside with Jen Psaki.
“Well, I think Judge Garland believes very much in the Department of Justice and the institutional rules there, and I think that at a time when many Americans, myself included, would like to see the Department of Justice become more aggressive in defending the right to vote in the courts, defending reproductive rights, that more cautious and measured approach does not seem aggressive enough, given the threats that our rights face,” he commented.
The comments were apparently unsubstantiated, as Psaki had asked him what Americans don’t understand about the head of the Justice Department and his apolitical attitude toward his job.
“I think they should look at opportunities to go to court and make it clear that voter intimidation is wrong and that some of the efforts in these states to limit women’s rights to travel, get information, get the health care they they need, is contrary to the broader principles of our Constitution,” he said.
The comments were measured in themselves, but could still cause friction between the White House and the Justice Department, the latter of which has only grown accustomed to direct criticism of its efforts from 1600 Pennsylvania during the Trump era and hoped for a return to normal under Joe. Biden.
Klain left the White House earlier this year after overseeing White House operations for the first half of Biden’s first term. He has since returned to legal work, succeeded by former White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients.
Points he raised on Psaki’s show have been echoed by many progressive groups, who say the administration is not using its full power in response to the continued erosion of voting access in Republican jurisdictions, particularly in the South, as well as the unprecedented end of federal laws. protections for the right to abortion with the reversal of the Supreme Court of roe vs wade last year.
Biden himself is not immune to criticism, and in February he did not impress activists with passing mentions of abortion rights in his State of the Union address to Congress.