Renzi’s Lawyers Argue Bush DOJ Leaked Info For Political Gain On Eve Of Election

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We now have the lawyers of a former Republican Congressman arguing that the Bush Administration encouraged the Justice Department to leak information on an ongoing probe for “partisan political reasons.”

The twist comes in a motion filed Thursday in the case of ex-Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), who was indicted on 36 corruption counts in February 2008. (Read the motion here.)

His lawyers are demanding that the government show why it should not be held in contempt for disclosing information from grand jury proceedings.

The motion lays out the facts we now know, thanks to documents recently released by the House Judiciary Committee, about the White House’s apparently successful attempt to secure favorable DOJ leaks on the Renzi probe in the days before the 2006 election.It points to the email from Harriet Miers, in which she and a subordinate of Karl Rove discussed a call Miers made to the deputy attorney general. The emails suggest Miers asked the DOJ to “deviate” from its standard policy of not commenting on any investigations.

The motion cites a story in the Arizona Republic, published just two days after the Miers email, that quoted an anonymous DOJ official saying, “I want to caution you not to chop this guy’s (Renzi’s) head off.” (It’s also worth noting that leaks to the Republic and to other outlets falsely suggested the Renzi probe was at an early stage.)

Renzi’s lawyers came to same conclusion we did after reading the Miers email: that, as the motion puts it, “officials in the highest levels of the Justice Department leaked grand jury material and that those leaks were done at the behest of White House officials for improper political purposes.”

It asks the court to “investigate whether the Justice Department, in a misguided effort to help Congressman Renzi’s re-election bid (or to otherwise minimize culpability from prior leaks), leaked grand jury matters to the press at the behest of Mr. Rove, Ms. Miers, or other White House employees.”

Renzi’s lawyers are demanding the government show why it should not be held in contempt for violating the federal rule of criminal procedure that bars such leaks.

We’ll watch this closely and let you know what happens next.

(Via Politico)

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