Under former President Donald Trump, the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into Seattle’s racial justice training for city workers.
This investigation has been suspended under President Joe Biden, who took office nine days ago.
The investigation, according to Justice Department attorneys and Trump administration officials, was previously based on “public reports” and “press reports” of training on “critical racial theory” and “white privilege”.
However, on Thursday the Justice Department concluded that nothing needed further investigation.
“The Justice Department has completed its investigation and has decided to close the matter without further action,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory B. Friel wrote to Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes on Thursday.
Friel’s letter was only four sentences long.
“This was a politically motivated investigation, both without merit and heart,” Holmes said in a prepared statement Friday. “City employees were and are not excluded from participating in voluntary training courses due to their racist self-identification.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan linked the opening and closing of the investigation directly to the presidential postponement.
“Elections are important and President Biden is taking action to help our nation and our city,” Durkan said in a prepared statement. “Former President Trump and his administration have constantly targeted Seattle with politically motivated attacks and litigation.”
Trump, Durkan said, “targeted Seattle because it defended our immigrant and refugee communities and because our commitment to race and social justice includes racial justice training.”
On Biden’s first day in office, he overturned a Trump executive order aimed at banning diversity and inclusion training for federal entrepreneurs and fellows.
The DOJ investigation came to the fore last fall in the middle of the presidential campaign and since Trump had spent months criticizing and targeting Seattle. When the investigation was announced, Trump also tried to withhold federal funds from Seattle and other cities his administration referred to as “anarchist jurisdictions.”
The training the DOJ asked for is part of several courses regularly offered to city workers by the Race and Social Justice Initiative in Seattle. Under the direction of the Office of Civil Rights, an initiative was launched in 2005 to end institutionalized racism and racial differences in the Seattle government.
Although the internalized superiority and inferiority training courses were designed for race-based employees, the sessions were neither mandatory nor exclusive, according to Seattle officials. These and similar meetings have been held for many years with city officials.
Mariko Lockhart, director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, said in a written statement that the Trump administration investigation “was part of a broader campaign to strengthen the white nationalists’ movement and agenda.”
Her office, she said, “will continue to work to end racism and discrimination.”