November 18, 2021

Foxes and Henhouses: Restoring Oversight and Accountability A Year After the 2020 Election

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the 2020 election, advocates and lawmakers are still debating how best to protect our democratic institutions and promote accountability for executive branch transgressions. Some are particularly concerned about the role that the Department of Justice and its Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) played in undermining congressional oversight during the Trump years, when it issued opinions that arguably distorted the separation of powers by brooking no recognition for Congress's prerogatives as a co-equal branch.

Others are focused on the need to protect and strengthen the roles of Inspectors General after former President Trump fired four IGs in the span of six weeks in what some called a "dangerous pattern of retaliation" against federal watchdogs. Recognizing that transparency and oversight is key to democratic survival, what are the best ways to achieve accountability for executive branch transgressions? What role should the Office of Legal Counsel play in reigning in executive branch illegality? And what reforms to the Inspector General system are needed so that these watchdogs can provide the independent nonpartisan oversight they are legislatively required to deliver?

Welcome Remarks:
Russ Feingold, President, ACS

Josh Gerstein, Senior Legal Affairs Reporter, Politico, Moderator
Liza Goitein, Director of the Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice
Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director, Knight First Amendment Institute, Columbia University
Annie Owens, Senior Counsel, Institution for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection
Andrew Wright, Partner, K&L Gates