- - Sunday, January 3, 2021

With a potentially bruising Department of Justice confirmation battle looming, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris now vigorously deny that they would ever direct their attorney general to do their political bidding or target specific opponents.

This would be unremarkable, had they not promised the opposite with equal vigor — and disturbing specificity — during the 2020 campaign. 

CNN reports Mr. Biden saying in an interview, “‘I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do. I’m not going to be saying, ‘Go prosecute A, B or C.’ I’m not going to be telling them. That’s not the role. It’s not my Justice Department, it’s the people’s Justice Department’. … Harris echoed the sentiment of Mr. Biden’s remarks on the Department of Justice. ‘We will not tell the Justice Department how to do its job,’ Ms. Harris said.”

So pay no attention to their unambiguous promise to weaponize the DOJ: “Biden will instruct the Attorney General to” do all manner of things to impose a political agenda or target opponents, including, “(iii) strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters.” 

The latter point of course refers to an expanding litigation campaign by activists and the tort bar to force the progressives’ “climate” agenda on the country, and to enrich themselves through what are in effect taxes paid by consumers, run through massive settlements with energy companies. 



The plaintiffs’ team regularly admits that this is an attempt to use the courts as substitute policymaker for an agenda that keeps failing through the democratic process.

Their objectives are to “bring down the fossil fuel companies,” coerce defendants “to the table” and ultimately to enlist them as lobbyists for desired climate policies. That is, the idea is to substitute verdicts for the failure to enact policy by convincing the public.

Things will inevitably get confusing, therefore, should the DOJ soon deploy the awesome powers of the federal government to assist political-ally plaintiffs, against perceived enemies of the climate. So consider some facts about this litigation campaign. 

First, the Biden-Harris vow revives the plan to federally prosecute the “climate” opposition, as revealed in a 2016 colloquy between Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, of the Senate Judiciary Committee and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

That was shocking. This is even more deplorable given it’s not just a uniquely obsessive senator egging on an AG with a suspect record of politicization; this involves a president and vice president vowing a political hit for political allies, whose clumsily synchronized backpedal only adds to suspicions.

And of course, there is no reason to expect the threat to deploy government in this way is just against whomever they decide is a “climate polluter.” The targets will be wide-ranging, as Mr. Whitehouse suggested. 

I spent two decades with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a consistently effective opponent of the “climate” agenda which, therefore, found itself the subject of a subpoena campaign in an early, coordinated assault among state, D.C. and even territorial attorneys general.

That campaign resulted from an infamous call in 2011 by the same activists and tort lawyers for “a single sympathetic attorney general” to go after private parties with investigations, in order to extract records for use by the “climate tort” bar.

Thanks to newly released records, we now know that an ambitious young state AG from California helped organize this coordination between tort bar and law enforcement.

Bringing us to today, with that same ambitious lady having confessed that, if elected vice president, she will direct the attorney general of the United States to take over. And also that she would never ever do that.

Washington wouldn’t be “The Swamp” if the AG who subpoenaed CEI and 100 others, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Claude Walker, wasn’t recently, quietly installed at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as deputy director of criminal enforcement. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

Biden-Harris ran for office with a very specific, deplorable promise of weaponizing the Department of Justice on behalf of friends’ private civil litigation, to compel fealty to a failed ideological god and punish the heretics. 

Soon they will turn to putting a “sympathetic attorney general” in place. Confirmation hearings must confront this overt promise, generally, and detail this specific scheme by the climate litigation industry to occupy law enforcement offices. 

Recall that billionaire activist and major Democratic donor Michael Bloomberg has already “embedded” privately hired attorneys in progressive state AG offices as “Special Assistant Attorneys General” to push this agenda. As the government-transparency group Energy Policy Advocates recently detailed, these mercenaries also were immediately tasked with assisting these private plaintiffs’ suits. 

We have learned that this campaign’s lead tort firm has received “grants” of millions of dollars from a charitable foundation, plainly to underwrite its work despite contingency fee agreements promising massive payouts from any settlement. This is seemingly problematic, and not just for the poor optics of double-dipping.

We have also learned of “climate” plaintiff Rhode Island — home of Mr. Whitehouse — confessing that their goal is to obtain a “sustainable funding stream” because the legislature would not pass the taxes required to finance left-wing spending ambitions.

The Biden-Harris vow to order their attorney general to enlist the Department of Justice in this troubling campaign is scandalous. The attorney general confirmation hearings must elicit from the nominee an unambiguous condemnation and disavowal of such thuggery. 

• Chris Horner is an attorney in Washington, D.,C. and a member of the board of the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C.

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