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Biden’s Radical Prosecutor Nominee Faces Mounting Opposition

Rachael Rollins is under fire for being soft on crime and abusing her power

Suffolk County district attorney Rachael Rollins / Source: Suffolk County District Attorney's office
• August 3, 2021 5:00 am

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President Joe Biden's nominee for U.S. attorney for Massachusetts is facing opposition from the halls of Congress to the streets of Boston as her nomination moves to a vote.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said he plans to block Rachael Rollins’s nomination in light of her refusal to prosecute crimes as district attorney for Suffolk County. Rollins has said she will not prosecute a number of crimes, including theft and drug dealing. The Washington Free Beacon has reported that Rollins worked closely with a criminal justice reform group that wants to defund police departments.

"Rachael Rollins won’t stand up for the victims of these crimes, and I will seek to stop her nomination," said Cotton, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rollins is also facing opposition from Katie Lawson, a Boston woman who filed a police complaint against the district attorney following a road rage incident late last year. Lawson said she is willing to testify under oath that Rollins used her police lights and threatened to issue Lawson a ticket during a minor traffic dispute on Christmas Eve. Rollins, who is biracial, has since suggested in media interviews that Lawson, who is white, is racist. Lawson vehemently denies the allegation, noting that her fiancé, who is black, was in the passenger seat of her vehicle during the incident with Rollins.

"She doesn’t deserve that position," Lawson told the Free Beacon.

Biden nominated Rollins even as he has tried to downplay allegations that the Democratic Party is soft on crime and wants to defund police. Biden this month said that Republicans who claim Democrats want to defund police are "lying." Numerous Democratic lawmakers support the defund movement, including Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), a Rollins ally.

Rollins formed a coalition last year with the Grassroots Law Project, a pro-defunding social justice group cofounded by controversial activist Shaun King. Rollins issued a manifesto of 15 crimes she plans to no longer prosecute in Suffolk County, including drug dealing, shoplifting, resisting arrest, and making threats.

Cotton said Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies have caused a dramatic spike in crime across the United States over the past year.

"Democrats have defunded police departments, stopped prosecutions for numerous crimes, ended cash bail, and demanded early release even for violent criminals. These actions resulted in a historic increase in murders and contributed to the crime wave," Cotton said.

Lawson offered this week to speak to senators about her Christmas Eve encounter with Rollins. According to Lawson, Rollins activated the police lights on her vehicle and threatened to issue Lawson a ticket following an incident in the parking lot of a grocery store in Boston. Lawson, who was a registered Democrat at the time of the incident, said she contacted Boston police out of concern that the woman she encountered, who she did not recognize at the time, was impersonating a police officer.

Rollins denied in media interviews after the complaint came to light that she threatened to issue a traffic citation or that she used her police lights. The state attorney general, Boston police, Massachusetts state police, and a state ethics commission investigated the incident and did not find that Rollins violated Lawson’s civil rights, according to Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Rollins.

"The DA is humbled by this historic nomination and looks forward to the confirmation process," Brelis told the Free Beacon.

But Lawson said it was Rollins’s comments about the incident on social media and in the press that have upset her the most. Rollins compared Lawson to Carolyn Bryant, the white woman whose false allegation against Emmett Till led to the black teenager’s lynching in Mississippi in 1955. Rollins invoked race again during an interview with Boston 25 News.

"So the rantings of a white woman get you here and scare my children?" Rollins told a Boston 25 reporter.

Lawson also said Rollins’s attacks on the media who investigated the road rage claim make her unfit for office.

"I'll call the police on you and make an allegation and we'll see how that works with you," Rollins told the Boston 25 news crew that tried to interview her.

"What pisses me off the most is how [Rollins] treated the news media. They were trying to tell my story," said Lawson.