Watchdog: DOJ Officials Were Driving Force Behind Family Separation

After a scathing new report from the Justice Department's watchdog blamed top department officials for being the "driving force" behind the Trump administration's 2018 migrant family separation policy, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued a statement of regret and current DOJ official Gene Hamilton blamed the president for the policy.

In interviews with the DOJ Office of Inspector General in the lead up to the report, Gene Hamilton, known as a close ally of White House adviser Stephen Miller, said the decision to separate families, a controversial policy known as "zero tolerance" that lasted two months in 2018 before it was terminated by executive order, ultimately rested with President Donald Trump and then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

"If Secretary Nielsen and DHS did not want to refer people with minors, with children, then we wouldn't have prosecuted them because they wouldn't have referred them. And ultimately that decision would be between Secretary Nielsen and the president," Hamilton told the Office of Inspector General, according to the report.

In response to the report, Rosenstein, who left the department in May 2019, said in a statement to NBC News, "Since leaving the department, I have often asked myself what we should have done differently, and no issue has dominated my thinking more than the zero tolerance immigration policy. It was a failed policy that never should have been proposed or implemented. I wish we all had done better."

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