Politics

US Attorney Rachael Rollins on threats and challenges: ‘I am not fearful’

Rollins delivered her first one-on-one interview, speaking to GBH News' "Greater Boston."

Barry Chin/Globe Staff
US Attorney Rachael Rollins. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

With just four days under her belt as the first Black woman to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts, Rachael Rollins delivered her first one-on-one interview, speaking to WGBH’s “Greater Boston.”

Sworn in on Monday during a private ceremony at Moakley Courthouse in Boston, Rollins says has faced a barrage of racist, violent threats around her confirmation. On Thursday, Greater Boston’s Jim Braude asked Rollins about that.

“Has that dissipated at all in the days since?” Braude asked.

Rollins said she’s gotten a lot of “amazing messages too” from voters and law enforcement partners, but that she was not concerned about the threats. She cited the high tensions in the nation now, one year from the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

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“If I did not feel safe, and if I felt my children did not feel safe, I would not be speaking to you today as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts,” said Rollins. She said she was speaking to the U.S. Marshall’s office about the death threats, though the office has denied her requests for security.

“I am not fearful for my safety,” she reiterated to Braude.

Republicans characterized Rollins as “radical” due to her decision not to prosecute non-violent, low-level crimes as a district attorney. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm her.

Later in the interview, Rollins added that she would have no qualms about defending ICE in a proceeding, even though she previously sued the department for its presence in a courtroom.

“Let’s assume the same lawsuit in the future was filed by your successor, DA [Kevin] Hayden, you’d have to defend ICE in a proceeding. You comfortable with that?” Braude asked.

Rollins said she is comfortable, and that her office will look at all of the facts. 

She wouldn’t specify whether she gave Kevin Hayden, who since 2015 has served as chair of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board, a top recommendation for her interim replacement to Gov. Charlie Baker. “I am hopeful that he is going to do a tremendous job,” said Rollins. She said she had a “very positive conversation” with Hayden, and was impressed when she spoke to him. 

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Braude said he plans to interview Hayden on Wed. Jan. 18. The newscaster also asked Rollins about her integrity review bureau and wrongful convictions: “Will there be an integrity review bureau to examine wrongful convictions out of your new office?” he asked.

Rollins said her office is looking at all the different ways that they can improve an “already exceptional office at the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

“We’ll never be afraid to look back and see if the office got it right,” she said.

As for her historical swearing-in, Rollins said she wanted it to take place on her father’s birthday. He turned 74 on Jan. 10.

Rollins said it was the “best gift I’ve ever given him, for sure.”

“It was really powerful to turn the corner on the fifth floor of the Moakley Courthouse and see him and give him a big hug. It was emotional for both of us. But a lot of what I do, I’m just happy that he’s happy for me.”

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