Guam governor wants US attorney removed

Anderson: I was not coming from high-risk countries

Describing the behavior of U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the NMI Shawn N. Anderson as arrogant and disrespectful, Guam Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero has demanded his removal from office for allegedly not complying with quarantine requirements.

In response, Anderson said he was out of the country on personal leave and is not coming from any high-risk countries.

In a letter dated Saturday to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, Leon Guerrero said that Anderson apparently does not comprehend the severity of the COVID-19 issue in Guam.

Leon Guerrero said she was forced to take precious time and resources away from their response efforts last Saturday to deal with Anderson’s “unacceptable behavior.”

The governor said Anderson’s decision to challenge her executive orders created an atmosphere of noncompliance and threatens the local government’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let me be clear, I did not bend to his title when I asked my public health nurses and Customs officers to let Mr. Anderson through,” she said, adding that she did so to protect the U.S. attorney from the dangers he would face being imprisoned alongside those that his office has caused to be detained.

Leon Guerrero did not specify where the incident happened.

In his response to Leon Guerrero’s letter to Barr, Anderson, through U.S. Attorney’s Office law enforcement coordinator Carmela Rapadas, said he did not come from any high-risk countries as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

“Attempts were made to reschedule an early return, but the cascade of flight cancellations prevented him from doing so. In the interim, he communicated remotely with the offices on Guam and Saipan, in addition to the Department of Justice and various working groups,” Rapadas stated in her letter to Leon Guerrero.

Upon arriving in Guam, Anderson said he voluntarily disclosed his travel history and lack of COVID-19 symptoms. He was then presented with a contract to voluntarily self-quarantine at home. He refused to sign the document, saying he needed to work at his office. Rapadas claims that the governor, through her counsel, agreed that this was acceptable.

“The governor’s letter has been forwarded to the Attorney General. The U.S. Attorney supports the governor’s efforts to meet the ongoing challenges faced by Guam. The continuity of operations in the USAO also remains a high priority. The U.S Attorney is part of daily activities within the office. He will continue his work until further order by DOJ,” the letter added.

In her letter to Barr, Leon Guerrero said that Guam, just like everywhere else in the world, is working tirelessly to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 on the island.

She noted that under the Organic Act of Guam—passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the president in 1950—she, as the governor, has the obligation and the responsibility to quarantine individuals for the protection of the island against the importation and spread of disease.

Earlier this month, Leon Guerrero issued executive orders pertaining to quarantine.

She said her decision has affected the island’s guests and the people greatly, but they have complied.

“Our people complied because they understood the dangers this virus poses to them and their loved ones,” she said.

The governor said the people complied because they understand that the hospital and clinics are swamped and are caring for other illnesses and conditions, not just the coronavirus.

Leon Guerrero said while Guam is often forgotten in Washington, D.C., she expects that members of the U.S. Department of Justice would understand that the island is a U.S. territory where the people are subject to not only federal law, but also local law.

Leon Guerrero said she is hoping that the man President Donald J. Trump has appointed as a U.S. attorney would understand and respect that simple rule of law.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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