An investigation into the soon-to-be-former US Attorney for Massachusetts grew from a look at her possibly inappropriate attendance at a Democratic fundraiser to include allegations she tried to influence the election of her successor as Suffolk DA in part by planting stories that the acting DA was under federal investigation, even though he wasn't.
In fact, much of the 155-page report by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General, focuses on Rachael Rollins's involvement in the race to elect a new Suffolk County DA, both by providing frequent advice and commiseration for Ricardo Arroyo and her efforts to get the ultimate winner, acting DA Kevin Hayden, painted as possibly corrupt, through off-the-record conversations and texts with Globe and Herald reporters. This included feeding a Herald reporter an internal Justice Department document recusing her from any investigation into Hayden's actions on a possible case against a Transit Police officer that was started when she was still DA.
That recusal might have cast a shadow over Hayden by implying there was an investigation into him underway when, in fact, there was not. The report says Rollins went so far as to try to convince her underlings at the US Attorney's office that she was as puzzled as they when, after the election, the Herald reported on the Justice Department recusing her from a possible investigation into Hayden - an investigation that, in fact, had not even started:
September 11: Rollins Texts MA USAO Leadership a Link to the Article and Adds “Wtf!?!” and “How are they quoting things?”; Rollins Does Not Inform Them She Was the Source of the Information. ...
At 8:31 p.m. that evening, the First Assistant and Rollins spoke on the phone for over 12 minutes. According to the First Assistant, Rollins was upset with the Executive Officer and asked the First Assistant why she (Rollins) had not been told that the MA USAO had been asked for comment about the Herald article. The First Assistant stated that he told Rollins that it was because she was recused from the matter. According to the First Assistant, Rollins responded that she was not recused from things that were in the public record and that public commentary about the office was different than knowing the details of an ongoing case. The First Assistant told us that in his discussion with Rollins about the Herald article, Rollins never mentioned that she had communicated with the Herald Reporter about the article before it was published.
The report continues that even just seeking recusal on the matter, as it says Rollins did, was unusual because normal Justice practice is only to seek recusal once a case has actually started:
Despite the office-wide recusal on what the Recusal Memorandum referred to as "the investigation and possible prosecution" of Hayden and his First Assistant D.A., the MA USAO did not have an investigation open at the time, and, according to the Criminal Chief, the Office’s Public Corruption Unit had not taken any steps towards opening such an investigation. When we asked the Criminal Chief why a formal recusal was sought under these circumstances, he told us that he did not know why or who made the decision to seek recusal. He explained that, in his experience, normal MA USAO practice was to initiate the recusal process only in instances where the office planned to open an investigation. He said he could not explain why normal practice was not followed in this instance, but that he thought that the Law Professor’s letter may have played a role.
The "letter" refers to a letter that Northeastern Law Professor Daniel Medwed sent Rollins calling for an investigation into Hayden's handling of the Transit Police matter that Rollins tried to get Arroyo to convince Medwed to release publicly as he fended off his own leaks about allegations he sexually attacked a girl in high school.
Based on the evidence described in this report, our investigation determined that Rollins, while serving as U.S. Attorney, assisted Ricardo Arroyo with his Democratic primary campaign for Suffolk D.A., providing him campaign advice and direction and coordinating with Arroyo on activities to help his campaign. Rollins's efforts to advance Arroyo's candidacy included providing negative information about Hayden to The Boston Globe and suggesting where the Globe could look to find more information. The evidence demonstrated that at a critical stage of the primary race, Rollins brought her efforts to advance Arroyo's candidacy to the MA USAO, when she used her position as U.S. Attorney, and information available to her as U.S. Attorney, in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to create the impression publicly, before the primary election, that DOJ was or would be investigating Hayden for public corruption. These efforts included, but were not limited to, Rollins trying unsuccessfully to convince her First Assistant U.S. Attorney to issue a letter that would have created the impression that DOJ was investigating Hayden and, when that effort failed, disclosing non-public, sensitive DOJ information directly to a Herald reporter before the primary election. Then, after the Herald did not publish the story before the primary election and Arroyo lost to Hayden, Rollins disclosed additional information to the Herald to damage Hayden's reputation while he was an uncontested candidate in the general election.
The report adds:
We also concluded that Rollins falsely testified under oath during her OIG interview when she denied that she was the federal law enforcement source that provided nonpublic, sensitive DOJ information to the Herald reporter about a possible Hayden criminal investigation. Rollins only admitted to being the source during subsequent testimony after Rollins produced relevant text messages, which definitively showed that Rollins had indeed been a source for the reporter and had disclosed to him the internal DOJ recusal memorandum quoted in the story. Additionally, we found that Rollins lacked candor during her OIG interview when she answered questions about her communications with the Herald reporter before the primary election and when she described how she first learned of the Globe’s interest in a transit police misconduct case.
The report details the phone calls and hundreds of texts Rollins and Arroyo had during the campaign, in particular, just before and after the stories about Arroyo in high school broke.
On August 22, Rollins asked Arroyo: "Do you have anyone doing opposition research on [Hayden]? At [Hayden's secondary school]? At [Hayden's university]? Any domestic calls to his house? [A research service] search?" ...
In late August, Rollins provided advice to Arroyo concerning a story published in the Globe on August 23, 2022, about allegations against Arroyo of sexual assault dating back to 2005 and 2007. On August 22, the day before the story broke, Rollins gave Arroyo feedback on his draft answers to the Globe reporter's questions and told Arroyo in a text message: "Ask [the reporter] to call me about the sexual assault suspect question. I will answer off the record." Arroyo replied to Rollins that he would tell the reporter to contact Rollins, and Rollins then suggested that Arroyo tell the reporter to contact "some previous DAs" as well. The next day, August 23, Arroyo sent Rollins a draft public statement about the sexual assault allegations and asked for Rollins's feedback. Rollins responded the same day with significant edits and additions to Arroyo's statement and told him to "[p]roofread and spellcheck." Rollins then advised Arroyo: "Just make sure what you say is accurate. And take a page out of his book. KEEP WORKING AND KNOCKING ON DOORS. Have a few quick talking points…." (Emphasis in original.) Two days later, Arroyo updated Rollins on where things stood, and Rollins responded: "Excellent. And if we can expose that [Hayden] did this—with ZERO regard for actual victims—it shows how selfish and heartless he is…." (Emphasis in original.)
After making its conclusions on the election-related improprieties, the report's authors then returned to the matter that had led them to investigate Rollins in the first place: Her attendance at an Andover fundraiser for the Democratic party that featured Jill Biden - which the Herald reported on. Rollins blocked the reporter on Twitter, then tweeted she had been cleared to attend at least the opening part and greet the First Lady:
The morning after the Herald reported that Rollins attended a DNC fundraiser, Rollins posted a tweet asserting that she had approval to do what she did at the Andover event. Our investigation determined that she did not have approval to do what she did at the event - to go inside the host's house during the fundraiser to meet Dr. Biden. Rather, Rollins had been given ethics advice from GCO to have a separate and brief meet and greet with Dr. Biden outside and away from the fundraiser and to then leave the area of the event after the meet and greet. Rollins's actions were not consistent with this ethics advice. The evidence shows that Rollins attended the partisan political fundraiser and, by doing so without obtaining the approval of the Deputy Attorney General or her designee, Rollins violated Department policy. Her attendance was also contrary to the advice Rollins said "had been made very clear" to her by the MA USAO Executive Officer before the event that she not attend the fundraiser.