DOJ Says Top Official Recused Himself From Cases With Former Clients Despite Appearing On Filings

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Thomas McGiffin Contributor
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Boasting a wide range of influential and wealthy corporations as his former clients, Brian Boynton now heads the Civil Division of President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ), the department’s largest litigation division. 

Boynton joined the DOJ in January of 2021 after working as a partner at the large and influential law firm WilmerHale. According to his ethics filing, Boynton accumulated a wide array of big-name clients including defense contractor Northrop Grumman, COVID-19 vaccine-maker Moderna, the for-profit University of Phoenix, Disney and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Boynton Brian NE 2021 3 by Dylan Housman on Scribd

Upon taking the helm of the Civil Division, Boynton’s name almost immediately appeared on a filing for a case that involved the interests of for-profit schools, according to Republic Report.  At WilmerHale, Boynton worked on behalf of numerous for-profit school corporations, including drafting this memo arguing against a “gainful employment” rule proposed by the federal government. (RELATED: Key Witness From Trump Impeachment Registers As Foreign Agent Of Ukraine)

The Daily Caller asked the DOJ why Boynton was not recused in this case, to which they responded: “no former client of Mr. Boynton’s was a party, and Mr. Boynton did not work on the filing you flagged. He subsequently elected to prudentially recuse from the case.”

However, further documents reviewed by the Caller contained Boynton’s name on the defense alongside another former client, Northrop Grumman, who was represented by his former firm, WilmerHale.

The Caller reached out to the DOJ concerning one of these cases. “Consistent with the applicable ethics rules, Brian Boynton was recused for a two-year period, from January 20, 2021, through January 20, 2023, in cases in which his former clients were a party,” the DOJ said. “In the case you flagged involving Northrop Grumman, Mr. Boynton was recused during that period and did not participate in the matter. His name appears on a filing in February 2023, which is likely why the court’s February 2023 order mentions him. But Mr. Boynton’s name was not on earlier filings, nor did he participate in their preparation.”

An earlier document relating to the same case dated Jan. 13, 2022, reviewed by the Caller does not have Boynton’s name listed on the defense, seeming to corroborate the DOJ explanation.

The Caller flagged a similar case from 2022 in which Boynton’s name again appeared alongside former client Northrop Grumman on the defense, but dated well within the 2-year-ban on working for former clients established in Biden’s Executive Order on Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel.

To this query, the DOJ insisted his name must have been included in error on the court document.

“The Daily Caller has no evidence that Mr. Boynton had involvement in any cases his former clients were parties to when he should have been recused. The erroneous inclusion of his name on a handful of filings does not indicate such involvement,” the DOJ said. 

The DOJ also noted “It is common practice for the name of the head of the Civil Division to appear on hundreds of filings each month. It would be inaccurate to report that Mr. Boynton had involvement in these matters just by nature of his title.” (RELATED: Whistleblower Alleges CIA Intervened To Block Interview With Key Hunter Biden Associate, Comer And Jordan Say)

As seen from one of the previous documents the Caller obtained, it does not appear that Boynton’s name is automatically placed on every document. It is unclear at this time how his name was affixed to the filing involving his former client.

The same lack of clarity is present in another previously mentioned filing regarding for-profit schools, where Boynton’s name appeared on the document, but the DOJ denied his involvement.

The DOJ subsequently filed notice with the court to have Boynton’s name expunged from the court documents where they claimed he was mistakenly listed. 

Boynton’s name has disappeared before from documents that could have raised questions about conflict of interest. When employed at WilmerHale, his name appeared under a document arguing immunity for pharmaceutical companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. When he was appointed to his new position in the DOJ, his name disappeared from the document.

While at WilmerHale, Boynton had pharmaceutical companies as clients, including Moderna. In the time Boynton has steered the Civil Division, the DOJ has worked to bail out the billion-dollar biotech firm, who already massively benefited from federal funding in the development and production of their COVID-19 vaccine. The DOJ filed a statement of interest for the federal government to assume the damages that Moderna might otherwise be liable for as the defendants in a patent infringement case, as previously reported.

The petition by the federal government to assume liability came after Moderna cited an obscure 100-year-old statute as reason to pass the liability for the alleged patent infringement to the federal government, which the courts had rejected, Reuters reported.

This move would potentially put taxpayer money at the service of a billion dollar corporation, a corporation that already received substantial federal funding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Compact Magazine.

The Revolving Door Project and The American Prospect (TAP) wrote a piece about Boynton’s — and therefore the DOJ’s — alleged conflict of interest in this matter, but the DOJ reached out to TAP to call the story inaccurate; the story was subsequently taken down. The story had not noted that Boynton was officially recused from these matters, but otherwise had laid out the facts of the case accurately.

The archived version of the article argues that recusal should be a last resort, and that attorneys with so many potential conflicts of interests should not be placed in positions of important and influential public trust. 

TAP alleged that the DOJ requested specifically that TAP retract the article. The Caller asked the DOJ why they asked for a retraction rather than just a correction, but the DOJ would not comment further on the matter.