Trump administration rolls back ObamaCare contraceptive mandate

The Trump administration on Friday announced a major rollback of the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, granting what officials called “full protection” to a wide range of companies and organizations that claim a “religious or moral objection” to providing the coverage.

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The decision swiftly ignited a new battle over the Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers and faith-based groups hailed the decision as a win for religious liberty, while Democratic officials and groups like Planned Parenthood accused the administration of attacking women’s rights.

By early afternoon, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it was filing a lawsuit challenging the change.

The original mandate, which already has been the subject of multiple legal challenges, required employers that provide health insurance to cover contraceptives. Under the existing policy, churches and houses of worship were exempt, while religious-affiliated groups that object had to allow a third-party administrator or insurer to handle birth control coverage. The 2014 Hobby Lobby decision expanded exemptions to for-profit “closely held” corporations.

But under the new policy unveiled Friday, the Trump administration is expanding the protections to any nonprofit group, non-publicly traded company, or higher education institution with religious or moral objections — and making the third-party provision optional for groups with “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Publicly traded companies also could claim an exemption if they state religious objections, though a senior Health and Human Services official said they would still have to let a third party cover contraception.

“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system,” said HHS press secretary Caitlin Oakley. “Today’s actions affirm the Trump administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.”

Sister Loraine McGuire with Little Sisters of the Poor speaks to the media after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - D1AESUEWJUAA

Little Sisters of the Poor outside the Supreme Court on March 23, 2016 after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the contraceptive mandate, was heard.  (Reuters)

The decision was cheered by representatives for the Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious group that took their mandate challenge to the Supreme Court — which in turn punted the case to the lower courts last year.

“HHS has issued a balanced rule that respects all sides –it keeps the contraceptive mandate in place for most employers and now provides a religious exemption,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket Law and lead attorney for Little Sisters of the Poor, said Friday. “The Little Sisters still need to get final relief in court, which should be easy now that the government admits it broke the law.”

“This is a landmark day for religious liberty,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement.

Officials stressed that the impact may be limited, even though the rule changes are significant, as some large corporations were grandfathered into the policy and spared from the mandate anyway.

“Of the 165 million women in the U.S., HHS estimates these rules affect at most 120,000, leaving more than 99.9 percent of women without any impact,” an HHS official told Fox News.

An official noted the administration anticipates the groups taking advantage of the change would be those involved in legal battles pertaining to the mandate.

“There are about 200 entities that have participated in lawsuits because of the contraceptive rule, and those entities will benefit from this rule,” a senior HHS official said.

A senior HHS official said there have been more than 50 lawsuits filed against the mandate, and the new rule would provide “relief.”

But the ACLU contended the policy would allow “nearly all employers” to deny contraception coverage if they state an objection.

“This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Friday. “With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.”

And Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., accused the administration of “stooping to a new low.”

“There is no ‘exemption from having reproductive organs,” Wyden said Friday. “This administration needs to end its obsession with attacking women’s rights to receive the health care they deserve.”

The types of contraceptives covered by the mandate are FDA-approved methods: diaphragms, hormonal methods like birth control pills and vaginal rings, implanted devices like intrauterine devices or IUDs, emergency contraception like Plan B, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. The mandate is not required to cover drugs that serve to induce abortions.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, since the Obama-era rule, the share of women paying for their own birth control pills out of pocket plunged to under 4 percent, compared with 21 percent before the rule.

HHS also rolled out a guidance bulletin on Friday, underscoring the requirements of a section of ObamaCare that “segregates funds” for abortion services. The bulletin reminds employers that abortion coverage has to be kept separate from other premium payments.

In addition to HHS’ announcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced “20 high-level principles” on religious liberty to “guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law.”

“The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the free-ist and most generous,” Sessions said in a statement Friday. “President Trump promised that this administration would ‘lead by example on religious liberty,’ and he is delivering on that promise.”

Fox News’ Kristin Brown contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Courtesy: Fox News

Maxine Waters to ‘humiliated’ Jeff Sessions: Now you know how African-Americans feel

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., tweeted Friday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions now knows how African-Americans feel after he was reportedly “humiliated” by President Trump over his recusal in the Russia investigation.

“To Jeff Sessions, how does it feel to be dragged & humiliated? Now you know how the African Americans you disrespected feel,” she tweeted.

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It was reported Thursday by the The New York Times that Sessions felt “humiliated” after Trump accused him of “disloyalty” because he recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Trump “unleashed a string of insults” at Sessions, who would later go on to say Trump’s reprimanding was the most humiliating event he experienced as a public servant, according to the Times.

On a podcast in May, Waters referred to Sessions as “very dangerous,” before adding, “I think he’s a racist, and I think that he absolutely believes that it’s his job to keep minorities in their place.”

Sessions reportedly gave his resignation letter to Trump later that day, which the president rejected.

Courtesy, Fox News

Republicans eye legislative fix as Trump ends DACA; Dems blast decision

Joseph Weber

Congressional Republicans indicated Tuesday they will take up the Trump administration’s call to consider legislation to replace the Obama-era DACA program, though condemnation from Democrats over the decision to end it points to a heated battle ahead.

In a show of unity, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., spoke to reporters about their push for a bipartisan “Dream Act”-style bill Tuesday afternoon.

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“The Congress is going to have to up its game,” Graham said, urging congressional colleagues to work with them – and the president to “get involved personally” by working the phones.

Durbin said the “countdown to deportation” sets a clear timetable for lawmakers to act.

Other Democrats, though, hammered the president for ending the program at all, leaving unclear how much bipartisan cooperation will be seen.

“I’m heartbroken – and I’m outraged,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “The Trump administration should preserve DACA until a long-term solution is passed into law. … We need sensible immigration reform, not senseless intolerance.”

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, whose corruption trial starts Wednesday, tweeted: “Mr. President, You went after children. You better brace yourself for the civil rights fight of our generation. #DefendDACA.”

Though Democrats wanted Trump to keep the program in place, the administration announced Tuesday it will “wind down” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program over the next six months.

The program enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2012 protected illegal immigrants brought to the United States when they were young. An estimated 800,000 young people have been protected from deportation under the program.

In announcing the decision, Trump put the onus on Congress to come up with a replacement.

“As president, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” he said in a statement. “Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first.”

The six-month delay gives Congress time to craft a legislative solution. And while Democrats condemned the decision, they also voiced hope that the legislative branch can come up with an alternative.

Whether the two parties can find common ground on an immigration deal that has eluded Congress for years, however, remains to be seen.

Republican leaders made clear Tuesday they would try.

“However well-intentioned, President Obama’s DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “Just as the courts have already struck down similar Obama policy, this was never a viable long-term solution … . It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., already has been working on a conservative version of the so-called Dream Act.

Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, argued Tuesday that Congress, not the president, must find a reasonable, compassionate alternative.

“DACA was an illegal abuse of executive power, and it’s important to reaffirm that the president cannot unilaterally rewrite the law,” he said. “Today’s decision puts the ball in Congress’ court. … A balance between compassion and deterring future illegal immigration can be found.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also made clear Tuesday that “no new initial (DACA) requests or associated applications after today will be acted on.”

The administration framed the decision as the result of legal pressure.

Sessions argued that attorneys general from several states are challenging the constitutionality of DACA, so the administration chose to act instead of risking the courts abruptly shutting down the program.

“Today is a dark day in America,” said California Democratic Rep. Lou Correa, whose Orange County district in majority Latino. “The only crime DACA students are guilty of is aspiring for the American Dream. … I hope the president will not go after children, and will reconsider his decision.”

Courtesy, Fox News

Trump administration ends DACA, with 6-month delay

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced the “orderly wind down” of the Obama-era program that gave a deportation reprieve to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children – putting pressure on Congress to come up with a replacement.

“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws,” President Trump said, in a lengthy written statement explaining the decision.

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The Department of Homeland Security formally rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, with a six-month delay for current recipients. According to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, the interval is meant to give Congress “time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions.”

“However, I want to be clear that no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on,” Duke said in a written statement.

READ TRUMP’S DACA STATEMENT

The decision touched off a firestorm on Capitol Hill, where Democrats blasted the president and Republicans blamed the prior administration for putting Trump in a legal bind.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to reporters, decried what he called the Obama administration’s “disrespect for the legislative process” in enacting the 2012 policy. He said the “unilateral executive amnesty” probably would have been blocked by the courts anyway.

“The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions,” Sessions said, blaming the policy for the recent “surge” at the border. “Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”

The Trump administration was facing a Tuesday deadline to make a decision on DACA or face legal action by Republican state AGs who hoped to force the president’s hand in discontinuing the program. A day earlier, Sessions sent Duke a letter with his legal determination that the 2012 executive action was unconstitutional.

Administration officials cast their approach Tuesday at the least disruptive option.

In his statement, Trump stressed that while new applications for work permits won’t be accepted, “all existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration up to two full years from today.”

Trump also said applications in the pipeline will be processed.

“This is a gradual process, not a sudden phaseout,” he said. “Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

Trump vowed to resolve the issue “with heart and compassion,” only this time working through Congress.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had promised to terminate DACA, though he appeared to soften his stance since taking office. In ending the program with a six-month delay, Trump put the onus on Congress to pass a legislative fix.

According to DHS, no current beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018.

“Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

While some Republicans support the goals of the DACA program, many opposed the use of executive action to institute it, describing the move as a presidential overreach.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among those who now support the call to protect so-called “Dreamers” with legislation.

“I have always believed DACA was a presidential overreach,” he said in a statement. “However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who — for all practical purposes — know no country other than America.”

On a conference call, administration officials said Tuesday they are still prioritizing criminal aliens for deportation. But they described the original DACA criteria as very broad and cited the legal determination of the Justice Department.

During the presidential campaign, Trump referred to DACA as “illegal amnesty.” However, he seemed to edge away from that stance in April when he told the Associated Press that DACA recipients could “rest easy.”

WHAT IS DACA AND WHY WOULD TRUMP DISMANTLE IT?

The DACA program was formed through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allowing recipients to get a deportation reprieve – and work permits – for a two-year period subject to renewal. Under the program, individuals were able to request DACA status if they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16 and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Individuals must also have a high school diploma, GED certification, been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school. Recipients cannot have a criminal record.

Congress had been considering legislation to shield young illegal immigrants from deportation for years, dating back to the George W. Bush administration. Lawmakers tried again to pass a bill during the Obama administration, but couldn’t muster the votes amid flagging Republican support before Obama formed the program in 2012.

Nearly 800,000 undocumented youth are currently under the program’s umbrella.

HILL REPUBLICANS REVIVE ‘DREAM ACT’ TALKS AS TRUMP DECIDES FATE OF OBAMA PROGRAM

On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he supported a legislative solution to protect undocumented minors, but also urged the president to reconsider scrapping DACA.

Following Tuesday’s announcement, however, Ryan called DACA a “clear abuse of executive authority” and urged Congress to act.

“Congress writes laws, not the president, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches. But now there is more to do, and the president has called on Congress to act,” he said in a statement. “At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know.”

But opposition to the DACA termination is already fierce.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement that, with the decision, “Donald Trump has secured his legacy as a champion for cruelty.”

“President Trump’s decision to end DACA is a deeply shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young people in communities across America,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement

Even as they blasted the president, Democrats called for legislative action, leaving open the possibility that the two parties could pass a bill in the coming months.

Fox News’ John Roberts, Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Brooke Singman and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Courtesy, Fox News

Sessions announces hunt for leakers, says cases have ‘exploded’

Barnini Chakraborty

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other top administration officials lashed out Friday against illegal leaks and issued a stern warning that offenders will be “held accountable,” announcing new efforts to hunt them down.

“No government can be effective when its members cannot speak in confidence” with other government leaders, Sessions said, referring specifically to the bombshell leak a day earlier of President Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders.

He said referrals of classified leaks from U.S. intelligence agencies have “exploded” this year.

“We are taking a stand,” the attorney general said. “This culture of leaks must stop.”

Session said criminals who have leaked classified information are “being investigated and will be prosecuted.” He added that four people have already been charged with leaking classified material and related counts, and investigations have tripled.

Sessions said he has directed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and new FBI Director Christopher Wray to oversee all classified leak investigations and actively monitor the progress.

He said a new counterintelligence unit has been created to manage cases, and he has directed the National Security Division and U.S. attorneys to prioritize cases involving unauthorized disclosures.

“The department will not hesitate to bring lawful and appropriate criminal charges against those who abuse the nation’s trust,” he said.

Sessions also had some sharp words for the media, saying he would order a review of the current subpoena policy regarding leaks of classified information and called the publication of such materials as something that places lives “at risk.”

David Boardman, chairman of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, fired back.

“What the attorney general is suggesting is a dangerous threat to the freedom of the American people to know and understand what their leaders are doing, and why,” Boardman said in a statement.

Leak cases have traditionally been difficult to prove and prosecute. In 2015, Attorney General Eric Holder issued new guidelines on obtaining information from members of the media. Sessions said Friday that he’s reviewing the DOJ’s policy on issuing subpoenas to reporters.

Under the Obama administration, federal prosecutors brought charges in nine cases – more than all previous administrations combined.

Still, it was clear by Sessions’ comments that the Trump administration would go after any leakers of sensitive information.

Last month, a report written by Republicans on the Senate’s homeland security panel warned that the Trump administration faced an “alarming” amount of media leaks that posed a potential threat to national security. The 24-page report, titled “State Secrets: How and Avalanche of Media Leaks is Harming National Security,” estimated the Trump administration has had about one leak per day.

The authors of the report urged the Justice Department to step up its investigations into the leaks.

On Thursday, a new leak hit the White House hard.

The Washington Post released complete transcripts from Trump’s telephone conversations with Enrique Peña Nieto, the president of Mexico, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The documents provided an unfiltered glimpse into Trump’s diplomacy during his first few days on the job. It also unveiled some not-so-nice comments he made in which he called New Hampshire a “drug infested den” and pleaded with Nieto to stay quiet about the controversial border wall Trump repeatedly promised he’d build.

“Leaking the phone calls between our president and other heads of state is nothing short of a national disgrace,” Kellyanne Conway, White House counselor, told “Fox & Friends” on Friday. “I want there to be bipartisan outrage.”

She noted the West Wing is a “small place” and finding the leakers might be “easier” than some realize.”

Former federal prosecutors told Fox News that the leak likely constitutes a federal crime. And lawmakers have voiced concern about how that material got out and the security implications.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee lashed out at the person behind the leak, with Graham calling it a “disservice to the president” and Corker saying he hopes Trump’s new chief of staff will “fire every single person” who is behind leaking sensitive information from within the White House.

Though Friday’s announcement has been in the works for some time, it comes during a rocky period between Trump and Sessions. Trump has taken the former Alabama senator to task over the past few weeks and has stated his “disappointment” with the country’s top law enforcement official via tweets, interviews and press conferences.

Trump slammed Sessions for not being tougher on leaks from the intelligence community.

“I want the attorney general to be much tougher,” Trump said last week. “I want the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before, at a very important level. These are intelligence agencies we cannot have that happen.”

Fox News’ Doug McKelway contributed to this report. 

 

Courtesy: Fox News

The many paths from Trump to Russia

TRUMP’S ASSOCIATES

Jared Kushner Michael Flynn Paul Manafort Carter Page Roger Stone Jeff Sessions JD GordonDonald Trump Jr. Michael Cohen Michael Caputo Erik Prince Rex Tillerson Wilbur Ross Betsy DeVosFelix Sater Aras & Emin Agalarov Alfa Bank Vitaly Churkin

Jared Kushner

Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, who married Trump’s daughter Ivanka in 2009. He was a confidant to Trump during the campaign and now serves as a senior adviser to the President. Kushner gave closed-door interviews in July to Senate intelligence committee staff and House intelligence committee members as part of their Russia investigations. He says he “did not collude” with Russia and that all of his actions during the campaign “were proper.”

Close all

Russia 

Courtesy:CNN

Justice Dept., Under Siege From Trump, Plows Ahead With His Agenda

Photo

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department in July. He has been the subject of President Trump’s rage recently because of his recusal in the Russia inquiry. CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is at the Justice Department by 6:15 a.m., when he exercises on a treadmill near his fifth-floor office, showers in an adjoining bathroom, microwaves instant oatmeal and hand-washes the bowl, then prepares for a daily 8:20 a.m. meeting with his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein.

The televisions in both of their offices are nearly always dark, and neither man has a Twitter account.

That does not mean they have missed the public criticism from President Trump, who was infuriated when Mr. Sessions recused himself from the government’s Russia investigation and when Mr. Rosenstein, who now oversees it, appointed Robert S. Mueller III as the inquiry’s special counsel.

Yet even as the Justice Department has been under siege by Mr. Trump, Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein have sought to tune out the noise as they remake the department into the one that is most powerfully carrying out the president’s agenda.

“We value the independence of the Justice Department,” Mr. Rosenstein said in an interview this week. The employees, he said, have been conditioned to “ignore anything that’s said by people outside of the department.”

Continue reading the main story

Mr. Rosenstein added, “Nobody is directing us and nobody is going to direct us about which cases to pursue.”

But even if developing headlines are not rippling through the department in real time — “I’ve made a point of telling my people they should not be monitoring the breaking news,” Mr. Rosenstein said — the attacks by Mr. Trump, including his firing of the acting attorney general and the F.B.I. director, as well as calls to investigate a political opponent, have reverberated loudly. All the same, Mr. Sessions is carrying out the president’s conservative agenda with head-turning speed, roiling critics on the left and leaving some career staff members within the department disoriented by the sea change.

“Sessions as attorney general has been everything conservatives could have dreamed of and liberals could have feared,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley.

In the last six months, the attorney general has rolled back Obama-era policies on gay rights, voting rights, and criminal justice and police reform while advancing his own fight against drugs, gangs and violent crime. The scope of the work goes far beyond the investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

“If you just read the media stories, you get a very narrow view of what the Department of Justice is doing,” Mr. Rosenstein said in an interview on Wednesday. “That’s not the way I see it.”

Mr. Sessions has mandated that prosecutors be as tough as possible in charging and sentencing all crimes, including drug offenses that carry stiff mandatory minimum prison sentences. He has expanded the ability of the police to seize people’s assets, irrespective of whether they may have been convicted of a crime or even charged. And as he presses a hard-line immigration agenda, he has dispatched additional federal prosecutors to border districts to prosecute immigration cases and has ordered cities and states to fall in line with federal immigration authorities or else face cuts in federal funding.

On Thursday, Mr. Sessions attached new conditions to local partnerships focused on reducing crime, requiring so-called sanctuary cities like Baltimore to honor federal requests to detain people suspected of being undocumented immigrants if they wanted to participate. On Friday, Mr. Sessions is expected to announce several investigations into leaking, a priority for the president, who has denounced the stream of information out of his administration.

Mr. Trump’s most loyal constituencies praise Mr. Sessions as the cabinet member most effectively delivering on the president’s promises. “We’re heartened by his no-nonsense approach to criminal justice,” said James O. Pasco Jr., the former executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police and now a senior adviser to that organization’s president. “He’s using the bully pulpit to show his support for law enforcement and make cities safer.”

Photo

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who now oversees the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Although it will take time for the full effects of the new policies to be seen, legal experts said, changes have already taken root.

Brett Tolman, a former United States attorney in Utah during the administration of George W. Bush, said Mr. Sessions’s policies on criminal charging and sentencing had already drastically affected some of his clients in federal cases not just limited to drugs. In conversations with assistant United States attorneys around the country, Mr. Tolman said, the prosecutors cited Mr. Sessions’s directives in refusing to negotiate in situations they previously would have.

“There is a definite difference in the mentality of the Department of Justice, and you see it already,” said Mr. Tolman, who previously worked as counsel to Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah. Mr. Tolman praised past bipartisan progress on criminal justice reform and said Mr. Sessions was out of step: “This is the 1980s and ’90s mentality, and an absolute 180-degree reversal from what we’ve learned.”

Mr. Sessions has not loudly promoted the changes. In travels around the country, he has rarely spoken with the press as public attention has centered on the government’s Russia inquiry. Mr. Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March after his own undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador became public. He left in charge Mr. Rosenstein, who in turn appointed Mr. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel.

Mr. Sessions’s recusal has gnawed at the president, who has said he would have chosen a different attorney general had he known Mr. Sessions would step away from the inquiry — something Mr. Sessions did in keeping with the guidance of the Justice Department’s ethics lawyers. Mr. Trump, who considered Mr. Sessions a loyalist, has called the recusal “unfair to the president” and chastised Mr. Rosenstein for appointing Mr. Mueller.

Even as Mr. Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kellyassured Mr. Sessionsthis week that he was not at risk of being fired, Mr. Trump has issued no such reassurance.

Beyond personal attacks, the president has taken broader swipes at the department for how it has defended his travel ban, which aimed to close the nation’s borders to travelers from certain predominantly Muslim countries. He has also called for criminal inquiries into Hillary Clinton while calling the Russia investigation a “witch hunt.”

The tension between the Justice Department’s leadership and the president, however, has made some career prosecutors and senior officials — including supporters of the administration’s agenda — uneasy, according to more than two dozen current and former Justice Department officials.

Since May, Mr. Rosenstein has addressed an array of Justice Department staff members, from the public integrity section in Washington to field offices of federal prosecutors in Nevada and South Carolina, seeking to deliver a simple message: Business as usual.

As the Justice Department operates with only a handful of officials confirmed by the Senate — including Mr. Sessions, Mr. Rosenstein and Christopher A. Wray, the new F.B.I. director — the administration has sought to put in place other permanent leadership. Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Sessions have spent some Saturdays this summer meeting with United States attorney candidates to recommend to the president to replace the 46 United States attorneys Mr. Trump forced out this spring. As of Friday, the administration had made 32 nominations, which Mr. Rosenstein cited as “an illustration that we’re moving fairly quickly.”

Others say the vacancies have certain divisions on autopilot. Prosecutors are less likely to take risks or act with a broader sense of strategy, said Kerry B. Harvey, a former United States attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky during the Obama administration.

“When you have a long period of time where you don’t have presidential appointees, the day-to-day work gets done but it tends to be somewhat directionless,” Mr. Harvey said, adding that “it’s ironic the president’s comments seem to be calculated to weaken the Department of Justice’s ability to implement his agenda.”

But as the department presses on with the administration’s agenda, its officials have not wholly turned a blind eye to their place in protecting established government norms.

Among the paintings that Mr. Rosenstein selected to decorate his conference room at the Justice Department is a portrait of Edward H. Levi, appointed attorney general by President Gerald R. Ford in 1975 after the department’s credibility had been eroded by President Richard M. Nixon, whose firing of the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, led to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre in October 1973.

“That right there,” Mr. Rosenstein said, motioning to the portrait of Mr. Levi. “That’s the post-Watergate A.G.”

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