We recently learned that the Inspector General for the Department of Transportation recommended that the Department of Justice investigate the then-Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, for using her office to personally enrich herself and her family.
According to the New York Times:
“In a report made public on Wednesday, the inspector general said the Justice Department’s criminal and public integrity divisions both declined to take up the matter in the closing weeks of the Trump administration, even after the inspector general found repeated examples of Ms. Chao using her staff and her office to help benefit her family and their business operations and revealed that staff members at the agency had raised ethics concerns.
“’A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,’ Mitch Behm, the department’s deputy inspector general, said on Tuesday in a letter to House lawmakers, accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation and the findings of wrongdoing.”
Not surprisingly, the Trump DOJ refused to open a criminal investigation of Chao, who just so happens to be married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who may have also enriched himself as a result of his wife’s actions.
However, there’s about to be a new, ethical AG leading the Justice Department: Merrick Garland, who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate within the next few days. Will Garland’s DOJ take a closer look at Chao and McConnell?
Keep in mind that McConnell refused to even hold confirmation hearings for Garland when he was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court by Barack Obama. Might that still be sticking in the craw of the new attorney general?
More importantly, however, is a much more fundamental issue: Should public officials be subject to the same laws and rules as the rest of us? If not, then there’s clearly two tiers of justice: One for the connected and one for everyone else.
Merrick Garland needs to take a hard look at the Chao file and make his own determination. And if the evidence suggests filing charges against the former head of the Department of Transportation and her husband, then they should be held accountable.