Schlozman: What I Really Meant Was…

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In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last night, Bradley Schlozman wrote to “clarify” his testimony before the committee last night.

Grilled by a number of senators over his decision as U.S. attorney for Kansas City to bring four voter fraud indictments just days before last year’s election, Schlozman repeatedly testifed that he’d brought the indictments “at the direction” (he used the phrase ten times) of the director of the Election Crimes Branch in the Public Integrity Section. That raised more than a few eyebrows on the panel since that director, Craig Donsanto, is the man who wrote the DoJ manual discouraging such investigations close to an election.

Schlozman’s story had the effect of distancing himself from the controversial decision and pinning it on a Department veteran.

Now Schlozman is changing his story:

As required by Section 9-85.210 of the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, at my direction, the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case consulted with the Election Crimes Branch prior to the filing of the indictments. I want to be clear that, while I relied on the consultation with, and suggestions of, the Election Crimes Branch in bringing the indictments when I did, I take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to ACORN while I was the interim U.S. Attorney.

In other words, somehow, some way, Schlozman was able to get a green light for the indictments.

Sen. Leahy, reacting to Schlozman’s letter, thinks it’s more than a “clarification” — and points out that it’s far from the first time a Justice Department official has misled Congress over the past few months:

“It is deeply troubling that after weeks of preparation Mr. Schlozman appears to have misled the Committee and the public about his decision to file an election eve lawsuit in direct conflict with longstanding Justice Department policy.

I asked him repeatedly about this case at the hearing because of concerns that it was done to use law enforcement power improperly to affect the outcome of the election, which is the reason the Department instituted the policy as a safeguard against such manipulation.

“This Justice Department and this Administration already suffer from a severe credibility crisis, and learning that yet another senior official was less than forthcoming during his testimony before Congress does little to restore any of the lost trust or eroding confidence in their leadership. It is difficult to get to the facts when Administration officials fail to come clean, but the Committee will continue to pursue the truth behind this matter.”