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Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe has a nice rundown this morning on Bradley Schlozman's role in the overall U.S. attorney firings' scandal.

We knew that when Schlozman was second in command of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division ('03-'06), he made a practice of hiring strong conservatives. As I reported a couple of weeks ago, a former attorney in the division says that Schlozman asked him whether a potential applicant was a Republican before considering interviewing him. And Savage comes up with numbers to demonstrate Schlozman's politicization of the Division's voting rights section:

Under Schlozman, the profile of the career attorneys hired by the section underwent a dramatic transformation.

Half of the 14 career lawyers hired under Schlozman were members of the conservative Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association, up from none among the eight career hires in the previous two years, according to a review of resumes. The average US News & World Report ranking of the law school attended by new career lawyers plunged from 15 to 65.


(Bob Kengle, the former deputy chief of the voting section, gave TPM readers an in-depth account of what life was like in the section this past week.)

And of course no piece on Schlozman would be complete without a mention of his precious ACORN indictments when he was the U.S. Attorney for Kansas City. Schlozman, you'll remember, rushed the indictments of four ACORN voter registration workers to land five days before the 2006 election.

The Justice Department is still desperately trying to portray the indictments as uncontroversial. As I reported Friday, the Justice Department's election crimes manual is crystal clear: "most, if not all, investigation of an alleged election crime must await the end of the election to which the allegation relates." And that's investigations -- an indictment, obviously, would be an even greater departure from policy.

But here's what the Justice Department told Savage:

The department said Schlozman's office got permission from headquarters for the election-eve indictments. It added that the department interprets the policy as having an unwritten exception for voter registration fraud, because investigators need not interview voters for such cases.


An "unwritten exception." How nice.

Because Schlozman didn't have FBI agents interrogating voters, his indictments had no possible chilling effect, apparently.

Just consider: On November 2, 2006, the indictments were widely reported, many of them featuring a quote from Schlozman that "this national investigation is very much ongoing." That same day, Schlozman released a statement that his office would have a prosecutor on duty on Election Day, ready to pounce at allegations of voter fraud. This was in a climate of trumped-up hysteria about ACORN's efforts to register poor voters both in Kansas City and in St. Louis, where Republicans were charging that tens of thousands of voter registration forms were "questionable."

Schlozman, in other words, knew just what he was doing. And now the Justice Department is inventing "unwritten exceptions" to its policies to cover for him.

Note: You can see TPMmuckraker's past reporting on Schlozman (from his reign of terror at the Civil Rights Division to his triumphant return to Washington) here.

I'd be remiss if I didn't link to McClatchy's great big picture story on GOP efforts to hype voter fraud efforts in Missouri last election cycle.

Bradley Schlozman, of course, was a major part of that effort. He was dispatched to be the U.S. attorney in Kansas City, and as I reported earlier this week and as McClatchy reports, he brought indictments against four ACORN workers just five days before the election on voter fraud charges.

Those indictments flew in the face of longstanding Justice Department policy not to conduct election crime investigations shortly before an election. I won't repeat my earlier reporting on this here, but suffice it to say that the investigation appears to have been conducted with some haste in order to land the indictments before the election.

No reasonable person could argue that Schlozman's indictments were not a gross breach of department policy. But that doesn't mean that the Justice Department isn't trying.

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I tell you, corruption doesn't get any uglier than Alaskan corruption.

The investigation surrounding VECO, an Alaskan oil company, has finally borne fruit. Two Republican members of the state legislature were indicted today, one of them the former speaker of the house. There's still no word on the fate of former state Sen. Ben Stevens, son of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who is also under investigation.

Oh, and it's ugly. Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch are on the hook for trading votes for cash and sweet jobs, plain and simple. From The Anchorage Daily News:

The indictment says Kott asked executives of the unnamed company for money and a job after he left the Legislature. Weyhrauch, an attorney, asked for a job and legal work, the indictment says.

On about Sept. 26, 2005, the indictment says, Kott called an unnamed company vice president and said, “I need a job.”

The vice president replied, “You’ve got a job; get us a pipeline,” the indictment says....

In a meeting on April 18, 2006, Kott told the company executives, “You’ll get your pipeline, the governor gets his bill, and I’ll get my job in Barbados.”...

Kott met with the company executives in their hotel suite on May 7, the indictment says, and told them he had tried to defeat an amendment to the oil tax the company didn’t like.

“I had to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie,” Kott said, according to the indictment.

The company’s chief executive responded, “I own your ass,” the indictment says.


These two are among the same group of legislators who took a shine to calling themselves the "Corrupt Bastards Caucus." No wonder.

Bit by bit, word has leaked out from congressional investigators' interviews with the Justice Department officials involved in the firings. And one by one, they've denied responsibility for putting certain U.S. attorneys' names on the list.

Let's go down the list. Michael Battle, the former Director of the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, Kyle Sampson, and William E. Moschella, the principal associate deputy attorney general, all have told Congress that they did not put any names on the list. And today The Washington Post reports that David Margolis, the senior career official at the department, claims responsibility for adding a single name: Kevin Ryan. Ryan, you might remember, is the only U.S. attorney who everyone agrees had actual performance issues. Margolis also says he fingered U.S. Attorney from western Michigan Margaret Chiara as having managerial issues in her office, but it's unclear if he's responsible for her name being on the list.

For all six of the U.S. attorneys at the center of the controversy -- Carol Lam, Daniel Bogden, Bud Cummins, John McKay, Paul Charlton, and David Iglesias -- no one has taken responsibility.

Only three Justice Department officials who were supposedly consulted to construct the firing list remain unaccounted for. Two of them -- Michael Elston, Paul McNulty's chief of staff, and acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, the absentee U.S. Attorney for Montana -- have already been interviewed by congressional investigators. The strong impression given by public comments by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) since those interviews is that neither have taken responsibility for adding any names.

*Update: House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) was even more explicit in his opening statement yesterday: "We have interviewed numerous senior officials in the Department, and all deny making the actual decision to place these names on the list."

The third and sole remaining Justice Department offiical is Monica Goodling, the liaison to the White House. She, of course, is yet to be interviewed.

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Here's the latest volley in the ongoing battle between Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Waxman, the chairman of the House committee on oversight, wrote to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice today to complain that State Department officials had attempted to prevent a nuclear weapons anaylst at the department from speaking with his staff. This comes after Waxman's committee issued a subpoena last week for Rice's testimony on how she dealt with claims before the war that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. Rice has said that she won't comply with the subpoena.

Waxman said that when his staff sought to meet with Simon Dodge, a nuclear weapons analyst at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, a State Department official called and objected. According to Waxman, the official "informed Committee staff that you [Rice] were prohibiting Mr. Dodge from meeting with Committee investigators. This official claimed that allowing Mr. Dodge to speak with Committee staff would be 'inappropriate' because the Committee voted to issue a subpoena to compel your attendance at a hearing on your knowledge of the fabricated evidence."

Waxman wants to speak to Dodge because he raised alarms about the Niger evidence two weeks before President Bush cited it in his State of the Union address in 2003.

Waxman said he was giving Rice the benefit of the doubt:

I assume that your legislative staff was acting without your authorization in this matter. It would be a matter of great concern - as well as an obvious conflict of interest - if vou had directed your staff to impede a congressional investigation into matter that may implicate your conduct as National Security Advisor.


Waxman informed Rice that the committee would be interviewing Dodge next week.

And he also requested several documents from Rice "relating to the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Africa."

Congressman in Abramoff Probe Says He Won't Resign "Rep. John Doolittle, bucking pundits in The Wall Street Journal, The Sacramento Bee and other newspapers, said Thursday that he wouldn't resign his seat in the House of Representatives because investigators were looking at his wife and him in the ramped-up federal corruption investigation arising out of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. 'There is no way I am stepping down,' Doolittle declared in a telephone news conference with California reporters. 'I am not resigning. Absolutely not.'" (McClatchy Newspapers)

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Adam Cohen, writing in a The New York Times op-ed,breaks news:

There is yet another United States attorney whose abrupt departure from office is raising questions: Debra Wong Yang of Los Angeles. Ms. Yang was not fired, as eight other prosecutors were, but she resigned under circumstances that raise serious questions, starting with whether she was pushed out to disrupt her investigation of one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress....

Ms. Yang was investigating Jerry Lewis, who was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Ms. Lam and most of the other purged prosecutors were fired on Dec. 7. Ms. Yang, in a fortuitously timed exit, resigned in mid-October.

Ms. Yang says she left for personal reasons, but there is growing evidence that the White House was intent on removing her. Kyle Sampson, the Justice Department staff member in charge of the firings, told investigators last month in still-secret testimony that Harriet Miers, the White House counsel at the time, had asked him more than once about Ms. Yang. He testified, according to Congressional sources, that as late as mid-September, Ms. Miers wanted to know whether Ms. Yang could be made to resign. Mr. Sampson reportedly recalled that Ms. Miers was focused on just two United States attorneys: Ms. Yang and Bud Cummins, the Arkansas prosecutor who was later fired to make room for Tim Griffin, a Republican political operative and Karl Rove protégé.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has been very interested in Yang's case, had previously revealed publicly that Miers had discussed firing Yang. But the details provided here make it all the more suspicious. Not only did Miers discuss firing Yang, but she was apparently fixated on Yang -- and only one month before Yang stepped down.

Now, Yang left to become a partner at the white shoe firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher -- the firm that, it just so happens, is the one defending Lewis. It should be said that Yang has recused herself from the case. But the timing of her departure, or the offer (a $1.5 million signing bonus), can only bring suspicion. Gibson, Dunn, Cohen notes, has "strong Republican ties."

It's already been a rough week for Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. Now this:

The chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has told congressional investigators that phone calls he placed to four fired U.S. attorneys -- calls that three of the prosecutors say involved threats about testifying before Congress -- were made at McNulty's direction.

Michael Elston, the chief of staff, told congressional investigators in a closed-door session on March 30 that McNulty specifically instructed him to make the phone calls after the Justice Department's No. 2 official learned that the fired prosecutors might testify before Congress about their dismissals.


Elston also, according to Murray Waas, told congressional investigators what he's been saying all along -- that none of those calls were meant to threaten the U.S. attorneys.

But somehow, three of the U.S. attorneys all got the same message: stay quiet or get smeared.

Many were suspicious of the timing yesterday of the Justice Department's announcement that Monica Goodling was under investigation for possible criminal wrongdoing. So, apparently, is Goodling's lawyer, John Dowd.

In a letter today to the heads of the two internal Justice Department offices that are reportedly investigating Goodling, Dowd let it be known that he didn't appreciate learning that his client was under investigation from a press release. There was "no justification for publicizing this information in a press release before notifying us," Dowd wrote, calling it a "lack of professional courtesy."

The timing of the release, Dowd also wrote, was suspicious:

What disturbs us most is that the Department chose to make its announcement about Ms. Goodling in the midst of Congress's ongoing investigation into the Department's affairs, and less than two weeks after the House Judiciary Committee passed a resolution authorizing the House General Counsel to apply for an order of immunity for Ms. Goodling. The timing of your release smacks of retribution and intimidation.


But that intimidation isn't likely to work, Dowd wanted them to know: Congress's approval of Goodling's immunity is "in no way subject to approval by the Department," he wrote, adding that "the Department may not delay the issuance of an order of immunity by instituting a parallel investigation."

You can read the entirety of Dowd's letter to Glenn Fine, the Justice Department's inspector general, and H. Marshall Jarrett, Counsel at the Office of Professional Responsibilty, here.

Note: It seems worth noting that Dowd has a history of inflammatory rhetoric. When he was battling with the House and Senate judiciary committees, he compared Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) to Sen. Joe McCarthy.

The Justice Department's inspector general is reportedly investigating whether Monica Goodling inappropriately considered political affiliation when hiring entry-level assistant U.S. attorneys.

So now seems like a good time to recall a story I ran two weeks ago about Bradley Schlozman, who was then the second in command at the department's Civil Rights Division. A former Justice Department lawyer, Ty Clevenger, says that Schlozman asked him whether a potential applicant was a Republican before deciding whether to interview him.

And where does Schlozman work now? After a controversial stint as U.S. Attorney for Kansas City, he now works in the Executive Office of United States Attorneys. Salon has quoted a former senior Justice Department official as saying that Schlozman was "one of Gonzales' guys."

What Schlozman allegedly did is against the law. So is anyone investigating that?

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